inverted pyramid approach for the research, beginning with broad concepts and general themes and increasingly focusing on how rubbish is being used to generate value and reduce the need for new raw materials in commercial societies. The general outline used to collect the relevant data for the essay is as follows:
This section was used to provide an overview of the topic under consideration and provide the reader with an idea concerning what would follow.
This section was used to deliver a review of the relevant literature following the inverted pyramid approach described above.
Finally, this section was used to summarize the research and provide a recapitulation of important findings that emerged from the relevant literature.
The Value of Rubbish in a Consumer Society
The adage that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" has never been more relevant than today. Around the world, developed and emerging nations alike are identifying valuable applications for the enormous amounts of rubbish that are produced in consumer societies, ranging from energy production by burning it to various types of recycling initiatives that squeeze additional uses from discarded materials. While the search for sustainable approaches to economic development continue, it is clear that there is a great deal of value in rubbish, and a growing number of entrepreneurs and enterprises are exploiting this resource to their advantage. To determine how companies are deriving value from rubbish, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.
Review and Discussion
In the middle of Mumbai, India, the world's largest slum exists but the people living in this region manage to churn out over a billion dollars' worth of revenue each year by recycling cardboard boxes, plastic materials, discarded 55-gallon barrels and the other flotsam and jetsam of modern consumer societies. There is even a paint recycling industry whereby dried paint chips are manually crushed and mixed with oil to create new paints. Indeed, everything in Mumbai has another life after it has been used once, and another life -- and another life after that (Uitto & Biswas, 2000). The recycling of rubbish in India is not restricted to Mumbai either. For instance, according to Shurmer-Smith, "Virtually everything thrown away in India is recycled. Sweepers and second-hand dealers sort every scrap of rubbish and allocate it to its most profitable end" (2000, p. 160). Although the recyclers in Mumbai have refined their practices to high science, there are other indications that recycling rubbish is gaining ground in other parts of India as well. For instance, Shurmer-Smith adds that, "Bangalore introduced an experimental recycling scheme in 1994, enrolling the assistance of informal sector rag-pickers and in Calcutta a private company converts garbage into fertilizer which is sold to the organic tea producers of North Bengal" (2000, p. 160).
While recycling commercial and residential waste in this ways has become an increasingly important industry around the world, some societies -- like the slum-dwellers in Mumbai -- have extracted value from rubbish in unexpected ways. For instance, George (1998) reports that, "Putting together a home from the scraps and rags of past domestic settings is no new concept; in some parts of the globe, it provides a livelihood for entire families over several generations" (p. 17). Not only entire families but entire communities have created a livelihood from rubbish. In this regard, George adds that, "The internationally best known example is perhaps Smokey Mountain in Manila -- a garbage dump that supported a large community that settled on the dump, building homes out of discarded materials and earning a living scavenging for usable and recyclable items: plastic, paper, wood, and old food cans" (1998, p. 17).
These types of initiatives make it apparent that there is real value in rubbish, and extracting that value has become big business around the world. Recycling rubbish is certainly not restricted to emerging nations, though, and a growing number of energy producers are burning commercial and residential rubbish in high-tech incinerators to generate energy (Walsh, Warland & Smith, 1999). While the search for renewable energy resources continues, many authorities suggest that an expanded use of trash to energy initiatives just makes good sense (Stosser, 2008). Not all authorities agree, though, that this application makes the best use of the rubbish being generated in a given region. For instance, Ottinger and Williams emphasize that, "Waste to energy power from trash incineration is highly polluting, and [there…