The Sardinia Symposia are traditionally opened by outstanding scientists giving a lecture on a topic linked to the world of waste management but not dealing directly with this issue.
The seventeenth edition of the conference was opened, on Monday 30th September, by Jim Bridges, University of Surrey (UK), Annalisa Oboe, University of Padova (IT), Rainer Stegmann, Hamburg University of Technology (DE) and Evangelos Gidarakos, Technical University of Crete (GR).
THE NEED TO CHANGE ROLES - FROM RESPONDERS TO LEADERS
Over the last four decades, I have been involved often with the waste industry, its regulators and various government advisory committees on health and the environment. I have seen a few crises and a number of major achievements in the management of waste. The industry had to respond to many human and environmental health issues, such as the effects of combustion products from incineration, increasing concerns about environmental impacts of landfills and BSE. I am fortunate enough to have been involved in all of them. Sustainable use of resources is widely recognised now as one of the world’s primary objectives and every industry and citizen needs to play a part. Achieving sustainability is very challenging but leads to new opportunities As a toxicologist I have a particular interest in the development of less toxic and readily biodegradable substances.In my view the waste industry has to decide whether to just continue dealing with whatever waste is generated or to be proactive and tell the waste producers what is acceptable.This lead role requires a new strategy for waste automated recognition, separation and processing to utilisable products.
WOMEN, SCIENCE, AND THE DIFFERENCE IT MAKES
In 2019 Science and Technology still seem to be no country for (young or old) women.
The 2030 UN Agenda, which includes gender equality among its interconnected 17 SDGs, is a useful reminder that a liveable planet and a sustainable future need the effort of all. As predicated in SDG 5, it is necessary and urgent to acknowledge the role of women and girls in the public sphere and in the production of knowledge for an equal and inclusive society.
This is something we are deeply committed to at the University of Padua, which proudly features Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (1646 - 1684) among its graduates - the first woman in the world to earn a university degree, in 1678. However, that landmark in our 8 century-long history was not enough to guarantee an early access of women to university and academic careers, and in some disciplinary areas it is still a goal to live up to.
In my talk I will sketch the work we are doing for gender equality in Padua as a way to promote a new ‘grammar’ in gender power relations and to produce a more hospitable and equal scientific environment, where ‘difference’ is a value to uphold.
THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION
The Earth System is in alarming condition: Climate Change, Global Pollution, Deforestation, abundant Exploitation of non - renewable Resources, etc. influence our life on earth increasingly. Flora and fauna diversity is decreasing, weather changes, the toxicity level of water, air and soil is increasing, water levels rise, etc.
In order to assure that also future generation can live in dignity on a healthy planet we need the great transformation in almost all sectors of our life as e.g. change of abundant life style, decarbonisation of energy production, ecological economy and agriculture, eco- cities and new mobility concepts. This is a social, technical and financial challenge where research, education and scientific based information are essential and where media play a significant role.
WASTE MANAGEMENT ISSUES IN GREECE
Greece tries to follow closely the development of European waste management and the corresponding Directives. However, even today Greece landfills the majority of its municipal waste (81%, compared to 31% for the EU-28 average), with only 16% being recycled (EU-28: 27%) and 4% composted (EU-28: 15%). Illegal landfilling, very low recycling rates and the management of hazardous waste are criticized most and cost the country a lot of money. For example, in December 2014 a penalty of 22 million Euro and 54,450 Euro for every day for not closing several landfills was imposed, followed by a ten million Euro fine and another 30,000 Euro per every day regarding the treatment of hazardous waste in September 2016.
Statistics show that a lot of work needs to be done in order to accomplish environmentally friendly and economically profitable management of waste in Greece, which has many particularities compared to other EU country members.