Week 4- Lecture #4: Waste in the City Seminar

Posted: September 1, 2010 in Uncategorized
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UTS has organised five speakers which show very interesting ways of looking at waste problems and interesting stances.

  • Emma Synnott puts forth the link to cities, consumption and waste. Her lecture harshly states the truth of waste problems in cities in cold, hard statistics. Perhaps the most effective comparison was looking at trends such as the consumption of mobile phones to the point where there are more phones than people in Australia.More importantly, it was interesting to hear how about how the design of cities can influence waste trends. Currently they are designed that services such as waste, water, energy and food are quite far from actual cities. From Synott’s talk, it would probably be worth looking at these cities as systems to better understand and perhaps find solutions in the problem: whether it be through structures and technologies or influencing the people in the city to change trends.
  • Dr. Damine Giurco from the Institute for Sustainable Futures UTS focused on the Industrial Ecology in the City and the idea of using waste as resources, whether it be re-using the phosphorus in urine or re-using one business’s waste products for another business’s process, which links back to the idea of systems in the first lecture.Perhaps the most important lesson from his talk was the notion of not doing just less bad, but do more good and admittedly creates more of a guilt trip since many of us know about waste issues but do nothing active about it. Even when we do in ways like reducing waste, we need to be proactive and do something more valuable and be restorative.
  • Admittedly I did not connect to Jo Kellock’s talk about textile and clothing waste the most as I do not come from a fashion background. However it was a surprise to hear about issues such as toxic substances in textile waste and the issue of how it affects the industry financially.
  • Coming from a visual communication background, I found I related to Helen Lewis’s lecture about Packaging and Sustainability the most. Coming from the Institute of Packaging Design, I found many different ways and factors that affect a package’s design such as usability, safety, efficiency and cyclic property in terms of waste production/reduction. The experiment with the biodegradable bag and research on reusable bags were also eye opening and forces you to question how real the ‘green offers’ of companies are in terms of sustainability.
  • Stephen Ormandy’s talk about his business Dinosaur Designs offers an interesting look on the value of products that are designed to be kept. In direct contrast to packaging which makes up a good portion of waste because of its ephemeral nature, Dinosaur Design’s resin jewelry pieces offer a unique niche as they only sell a limited number of a product, thus making the product more variable. Producing less leads to producing less waste and this approach would be less wasteful than the mass production (perhaps overproduction) found in retail chains. It was also nice to know how his business is responsible in terms of sustainability such as reducing the number of off-cuts and valuing efficiency in terms of production.

The seminar offered interesting perspectives in many different issues and not only was an interesting learning experience for the students but also the speakers themselves. There were interesting conclusions brought up that weren’t in the planned talks such as society’s obsession with the new- as soon as something becomes yellow-ish and not as pristine, there is a tendency to throw it away and replace it with something new and how the government’s lack of legislation becomes a hindrance to the lack of positive action to waste problems.


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