Raúl Amérigo, Asia Pacific Regional Manager CONTENUR, has conducted an interview in which he explains the current situation of the Asian continent and what role CONTENUR plays in the territorry.
– Asia’s emerging economy makes it an attractive continent and with great opportunities for the waste sector. What do you think are the trends of the Asian market and how can these favour CONTENUR?
R: Asia is a huge continent, with a multitude of countries in different stages of development. Therefore, we should not consider Asia as one market, but rather as multiple markets, most of which still have a rather undeveloped sector. There are a number of exceptions such as Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea, each one with its particularities but where, to a certain extent, containerisation is already present. There is also China, although the country’s protectionist characteristics make it extremely difficult for foreign industrial companies to enter without forming a joint venture with a local manufacturer. Then there’s Japan, and even though it is among the most developed countries in the world, it has never been a fan of waste containerisation due to urban and idiosyncratic reasons, opting for other solutions. The most attractive aspect for CONTENUR in the region, besides increasing our market share in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, is contributing to the containerisation phenomenon in developing countries that are growing very fast, such as India, the Philippines, Burma and Indonesia. In these countries there is an increasing tendency to use containers for urban solid waste, at this time almost exclusively with rear-loading bins (which in many cases is still collected manually) and in the most developed and attractive areas of the cities.
– With almost 4.5 billion people in Asia and the amount of waste they generate, what recycling measures do you think can be implemented on the continent?
R: As we mentioned, the level of development of each Asian country is very varied. The only markets where segregation is already practised at source origin with different types of waste are South Korea and Japan, although the methodology used differs a lot from what we are used to seeing in Europe. Then there are a number of countries where there is only a double division between “recyclable” and “non-recyclable” waste, as is the case in Singapore, Taiwan and several nations in the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, etc.). Beyond these few exceptions, the rest of the countries still operate under the premise of one type of waste, where everything is thrown into the same bin. In some places, governments are making rather feeble attempts to separate recyclable waste from other waste, but they have not yet managed to normalise this because they generally have other priorities. In my opinion, this step is decisive and absolutely essential, since otherwise it will never be possible to establish an orderly and responsible flow of waste management that will result in the well-being of the general public and ultimately increase the quality of life of all these nations.
– According to different media, Asia is one of the continents that throws the most waste into the sea. Why is that? Are there not enough containerisation systems for better recycling?
R: The answer to such a profound issue is very complex, since there is no single cause. Indeed, certain Asian countries pollute the seas the most, and this is due to several reasons. First and foremost, we are talking about developing nations, many of them recently industrialised, so they have the industrial capacity to produce all kinds of consumer goods, but their citizens and businesses still lack a sense of social and environmental responsibility. This is not strange, since the same happened in Europe after the rise of the industrial revolution and it took us a long time to reverse the situation, so it is reasonable to think that Asian countries will also take a while to react. In the history of mankind, economic development has always preceded the concern for the environment, and in that sense I do not know of anywhere that can point any fingers. However, for change to happen, the different governments must take the environmental issue seriously, and that is still a rather grey area. However, little by little, we are seeing small improvements, so I am convinced that the change will come sooner or later. And, of course, the increase in containerisation systems will be decisive for improving the current situation, which is the main reason why CONTENUR is focusing on its presence in the region.
– Different pilot tests are currently being carried out with the side-loading models. What future do they have in Asia?
R: The pilot test we did in Singapore was a success, so it is not unreasonable to think that it will become a key factor for the rationalisation and sustainability of the country’s solid waste management in the very near future. Likewise, being one of the most developed and leading nations in Asia, we believe that it is the ideal framework for other countries in the region such as China, South Korea, etc. to see the benefits of this revolutionary waste removal system first-hand. My opinion is that, in the medium term, side-loading will be established as one of the benchmark systems for municipalities and service companies in many Asian countries, especially those that want to be faster and safer more efficient.
Download the interview in pdf ENTREVISTA RAÚL AMÉRIGO EN