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[GreenYes] World Summit Generates Tons of Trash

World Summit Generates Tons of Trash 
Fri Aug 30
By MIKE COHEN, Associated Press Writer 

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - While delegates
attending the World Summit wrangled over how best to
save the planet's rapidly dwindling resources, they
gave scant indication of leading by example. 

The 10-day summit, billed as the largest U.N.
conference ever held, is expected to generate between
300 and 400 tons of trash, and so far, just 20 percent
of it is being recycled. 

"We never had any illusions this would be a green
summit," Mary Metcalfe, the environment minister of
the Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg,
told reporters Friday. "At one stage we were hoping to
achieve 90 percent diversion (of waste) from landfill

Together with the U.N. Development Program, Metcalfe's
office is leading a project o known as the
Johannesburg Climate Legacy o to monitor and minimize
the summit's environmental impact. It's the first time
that it's been attempted at any U.N. conference. 

Toilets have been fitted with flushing systems to
minimize water usage, while two venues hosting summit
fringe events are being run with renewable energy
sources. Recycling bins have been put in conference
halls, but they've ended up as replacements for
garbage cans, filled with all sorts of non-recyclable

Consumption barometers were erected in the summit
venues, too, graphically illustrating the extent to
which resources are being consumed and recycled. 

Nonetheless, trash compactors erected at the back of
the main conference center have been working overtime,
and municipal workers have made several trips daily to
empty overflowing trash containers. 

The move to make the summit as environmentally
friendly as possible was gaining momentum daily, said
Nikhil Sekhran of the UNDP's Global Environmental

"The system is completely new," he said. "Clearly a
lot more education needs to be done." 

Hundreds of organizations have collectively produced
mountains of pamphlets, press statements and
brochures, hoping to draw attention to their multitude
of causes during the summit. 

Organizers estimate 5 million sheets of paper will be
consumed during the gathering. 

The conference's 45,000 delegates are also plowing
through other resources. On average each of them is
using 53 gallons of water a day, and the city's
electricity consumption has soared. 

The legacy project also estimated that flying
delegates to Johannesburg and transporting them around
the city will generate nearly 300,000 tons of carbon

The Johannesburg Climate Legacy project hopes to
offset this by raising nearly $3 million from
participating countries, corporations and individuals,
and using it to implement 16 projects to reduce carbon

Only $300,000 has been raised, and only seven of the
192 countries at the summit have pledged donations. 

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