An extensive network of NGOs, civic groups and institutions have joined together to organize the world’s biggest cleanup action – World Cleanup Day – uniting 150 countries on the 15th of September 2018.
Today, in Tallinn, Estonia a Clean World Conference brought together civic leaders from about 90 countries who are committed to stand up against waste pollution in their countries and cooperate globally to raise awareness about the rapidly growing waste problem.
According to The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), about 4 billion tons of solid waste is created in the world, of which 1.6 billion is household waste. 3.5 billion people in the world have no access to recycling facilities and this waste ends up in nature. The Global Waste Management Outlook estimated that hundreds of millions of tons of waste reach our environment. 80% of the garbage that pollutes our oceans is of mainland origin. The World Bank has announced that the global cost of dealing with rubbish is continuing to rise – to an estimated 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025 – with annual global costs of $375 billion.
World Cleanup Day is the outcome of a massive volunteer initiative called Let’s Do It! pioneered in Estonia in 2008, when 50 000 volunteers (4% of the population) cleaned up 10 000 tons of illegal waste in just five hours. Officials estimated that the initiative saved local governments three years of work and 22.5 million Euros. The idea quickly caught on, and has since spread globally.
“It is so inspiring to see how the action of a few people, considering global measures, has quickly grown into a world-wide movement that touches tens of millions. Today, we have 116 countries in our global network who have confirmed their participation in the World Clean-up Day. We have engaged about 20 million people in Let’s Do It! cleanups,” commented Eva Truuverk, the Member of the Board of Let’s Do It Foundation.
The President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid who spoke at the panel session said: “We need a world-wide movement against overpackaging, just as we already have the worldwide campaigns against child labor or animal testing, for example. All social groups have the duty to make a difference and in order to create one, cooperation is essential.” She also stressed that consumers have a chance to influence things as a community and help companies to move in the right direction by engaging them and being constructive.
She also expressed her strong opinion that incinerators as “waste to energy” solutions are far from environmentally friendly: “The byproducts of burning are very hard to manage and we have to handle them almost the same way as we handle nuclear waste. It is also giving our society the wrong message because instead of reducing and recycling, we are wasting quite a lot of materials that could otherwise be reused,” she explained.
World Cleanup Day in Estonia is supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs (from development cooperation and humanitarian aid budgets), Ministry of the Environment, BBDO Zavod, Republic of Estonia 100 organizing committee, EuroPark, DHL Estonia, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kolm Lõvi, Technopolis Ülemiste, Excellent Business Solutions, Infovara, Qlik, Enterprise Estonia, Coca-Cola, Interlex, IBM, Davines, Neste, Meedius, Sendsmaily, JCI, Microsoft, and many more.