What does the word ‘waste’ mean?
If you know anything at all about UNTHA UK you’ll have come to realise that whilst we are renowned as a specialist shredder manufacturer, we are also very passionate about passing on our advice and knowledge, for free, to those that will benefit from it.
We are also big believers in searching out industry facts and public opinion, in an attempt to uncover what the waste and recycling landscape really looks like.
So every month we run an online poll, and September’s question looked at the subject of waste. More specifically it asked whether the word ‘waste’ is holding the industry back, or if that viewpoint is just a load of rubbish.
We chose this question because, back in February, UNTHA UK’s managing director shared some thoughts on this very topic. In fact his views appeared in some trade journals too. So, do you agree with him?
Having analysed the results, based on participation from fellow industry professionals and general members of the public it seems that yes, on the whole, people do echo Chris’s feelings about the word ‘waste’.
64% of respondents agreed with the statement that “We should no longer use the somewhat negative word waste – the materials are in fact valuable resources which people need to realise.” This was Chris’s argument earlier this year.
Reassuringly, nobody whatsoever chose the statement “Waste is the right word for materials that have already been used therefore the name should stick.” At first glance, this would perhaps indicate the need for some change. However, 21% of people also said “Waste is just a word, it doesn’t matter what it’s called.”
Commenting on this finding, Chris said: “I strongly believe that ‘waste’ is another word for ‘rubbish’, and both have negative connotations attached to them. I think that people, even subconsciously, see the word waste as something dirty, not something with further potential. And I have long wondered whether subtle changes in terminology would help to shape perceptions among the public and businesses. Do people outside our industry realise the wealth in waste, for example? Or the number of jobs our industry is creating through innovative product design, equipment manufacturing, plant building, closed loop models, renewable energy generation, and more?
“In truth, it may be some time before we move away from the word waste. Given 14% of people didn’t agree with any of the statements above, this is perhaps time we can afford. But one thing’s for certain, it is those of us who work with ‘waste’ every day, that must be the driving force. We need to show what goes on in our businesses every day, and just how much has changed in only a number of years. And we need to engage the 64% of people who, encouragingly, seem to already be paying attention.”