To lower emissions and save money, to need less fuel or raw materials. To pollute less and save a world for your children. As long as the economy still runs, it won't happen.
Right now, the accumulation of wealth and capitalism is running the production of goods. People want luxury and everyone, even the poorest, can at least afford some luxury. We want more and can never be satisfied. Now imagine 6 billion likeminded souls doing the same thing, reaching for their limits.
To this state of mind, or so called problem, there are but few solutions. One is to keep expanding mankind and colonize other planets. We are simply not advanced enough yet. Another one is to drastically reduce the population, which due ethical reasons won't happen either. The last possibility is to change the mindset of at least the top 5% of the world, to instead demand luxury through clean air, soil and nature.
This is the general idea to use waste again in the beginning of a product line. Like using dough remains to make new bread, to use plastic cutaways from molds to make new plastic.
But looking beyond this, a can, a piece of paper and a banana peel, in the same bakery, or plastic factory isn't as usefull. So what to do with these?
The next logical step is to recycle, sending paper to a paper plant, the can to a forge and the banana peel to a fertilizer plant. However this requires human effort and transport.
How to solve this? Make it usable again or unessecary. The banana peel can be composted. The paper could be made edible and or burned. The tin can could be replaced by reusable plastic containers.
But this doesn't solve anything as we still need packaging, transport and storage space for both producs and waste.
So unless we change human needs and interests, willingness to help spend their time and effort in recycling. We should find ways to improve on other ways.
Like 3d printing for example.
The innovation of the year 2014 and 2015, which is printing plastic, rubber and even metal and food, into any shape we can imagine.
Factories that create simple household items will be unessecary. That is, if this plastic can be ground down into pellets and reused again in the 3D printer for other products. Personal recycling would become a new hype.
Image source: CNN.com