Well it’s a start. Recycling is great, and the “other” – we’ll just not think about it, nature will sort it out.
Nature doesn’t chuck things out. Over millennia, lakes will deposit biomass (detritus) at the bottom, at a rate of maybe 1-2cm per year, and ultimately become a marsh and then dry land, and new lakes will form, it’s all in flux, nothing is wasted, naturally occurring heavy metals are sequestered, water run-off is minimised. Because water is solvent for nutrients, and they are held back in the organic matrix (living biomass and humus or detritus). So there are some organic compounds that take ages to break down, like lignin, and that’s deposited, but it’s not waste! It serves a vital function of holding together humus and forming organic substrate. It starts with a perception: “waste” being something we “refuse” (pun intended). We refuse to think creatively about how to re-use or what else to do with that stuff usefully. It’s easier to shut off our minds, chuck it and go for coffee (in a cardboard cup with plastic lining).
We humans have become so deluded and alienated from nature, that we’ve allowed our consumerist lifestyles in the “western world” to measure economic activity by “throughput” of goods through society, the quicker we dump what we’ve just bought the better, so we can buy more.
Our landfill sites will be re-used as sources of carbon, nutrients and raw materials – either by nature, or if we last long enough, by us. Rare earth elements, precious metals, all will be mined from the stuff we currently through on a dump. I hope it will be unmanned machines, not people, sieving through the waste and recovering everything valuable and fuelling themselves chemically from the hydrogen in the waste and feeding the surplus into a grid (be it hydrogen, methane or electricity). Just imagine the paradox – we will shake our heads in disbelief that we could throw away so much, and will have to find pretty sophisticated methods of separating raw materials from fuel substrates, because these days we weren’t bothered to recycle but threw our electronics together with our banana peels, our old furniture and our kids’ nappies and everything else. What a mess.
Just because we have the raw material for our plastics (crude oil) still bubbling out of the ground, though increasingly harder to get to, we now even crack open our land surface to free up a bit more of that stuff (and/or natural gas).