I said before that I think we're on the cusp of a change as fundamental as the industrial revolution. But this time the change will be on the consumption side, not the production side. As a society we have dabbled with recycling and such, but it has always been fairly optional. There was no real penalty for waste.the best way for society to realize the true impact of waste is to assign costs to its generation. consumers of wasteful products and services should bear the expense. price information can drive adoption of cleaner processes.
The coming consumption revolution won't be strictly for the benefit of the environment. It will be an economic necessity, driven largely by the huge numbers of retired poor. There simply won't be enough stuff for everyone if waste is allowed.
i'm also wondering if some begenius will one day begin to mine old waste dumps in search of some resource we considered waste in the past. further still, will we consider something wasteful in the future that we now consider benign? perhaps water vapor emitted from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?