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Panel discussion - Waste: Old Problems and New ParadigmsTalk programs | 21.02.2021
"(re)mineralizacija" (2016-2017-2020-) mirko nikolić + Aleksandra Mitovski, Duško Jelen, Marika Troili, Tuomas A. Laitinen
The Museum of Contemporary Art invites you to “Waste: Old Problems and New Paradigms”, a panel discussion to be held as part of the project “Overview Effect”
Wednesday, 24 February 2021
The panel will take place over Zoom and will be available via the Museum's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MSUB.MoCAB/
Kristina Cvejanov, independent advisor specialised in waste management
Toplica Marjanović, environmental engineer, Programme Coordinator, Društvo mladih istraživača Bor (Young Explorers' Society of Bor)
Milja Vuković, “Za manje smeća i više sreće – Zero & Low Waste Serbia”
Moderators: Zoran Erić, MoCAB; mirko nikolić, artist and researcher, Linköping University
Concerning the topic:
A single gold wedding ring leaves behind around 20 tonnes' worth of waste. Each year, the global mining industry generates around 80 billion tonnes' of different types of waste to produce 10 billion tonnes of product. On average, a mobile phone contains parts made of 62 different chemical elements, i.e. almost every stable chemical element on Earth, which means that these light items that fit in one's palm come from an entire mountain of ore mined across the world. The total amount of electronic waste is growing at a rate of 50 million tonnes a year, around 17.4% of which is collected and recycled. In the EU alone, around 88 million tonnes of food is discarded every year. Of the total amount of plastics that has ever been produced, some 91% was never recycled.
Plastics are amassing to form islands of scrapin the oceans, as well as in the rivers of Serbia and the region (Drina, Lim, etc.). Micro- and nano-plastics are accumulating in the bodies of living organisms inhabiting the seas and oceans ‒ the blue lungs of Earth ‒ while the natural water cycle makes them airborne in the form of particles, impacting the health of all living beings that inhale them. The problem of waste is thus most intimately connected to the wellbeing of the environment and society.
Waste is an integral part of most of our interactions with the environment, demanding continual management, care, as well as technologies and protocols for handling it on the level of society. A key challenge is the fact that waste is by no means an “externality”, contrary to its definition in modern economics. These “leftovers” do not leave, but linger on forever. This is perhaps most obvious with nuclear energy, whose waste products necessitate tens of thousands of years of safe storage.
Thus far, modern industrial development has failed to find an adequate way to take care of waste, whereas the solution offered by capitalism is to convert these “remainders” into market value. Waste disposal and its health repercussions are often “exported” to more vulnerable communities and “peripheral” ecosystems, that is, from richer to poorer countries. Finally, there is one more question we must face, arising from the relations of production: who profits and who suffers losses?
In our time, we already find ourselves in an “era of limits”. To put it simply, it is no longer possible to produce “bigger and better” refrigerators, cars, or airplanes, without also producing “bigger and better” waste. That is why we must consider all possible perspectives on the future of the “growth society”, as well as scenarios focused on degrowth. In this regard, the question is whether we are able to imagine an economy that would be based on the 7R principle: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Repurpose, Rethink, and Reject?
The discussion will pay special attention to problems relating to waste (mis)management in Serbia, addressing the many potential consequences of the lack of a systemic approach, poor implementation of strategic documents, and disregard for legal regulations in this vital area of environmental protection, a fact borne out every day by examples from across the country.