Zero Waste is a philosophy and a design principle for the 21st Century. It includes ‘recycling’ but goes beyond recycling by taking a ‘whole system’ approach to the vast flow of resources and waste through human society.
Instead of viewing used materials as garbage in need of disposal, materials are recognized as valuable resources. A pile of ‘trash’ represents community and economic opportunity including jobs and new products from raw materials.
The zero waste approach seeks to maximize recycling, minimize waste, reduce consumption and ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace.
Zero Waste is a circular systems approach to minimizing the amount of resources we waste. The goals are to send ZERO waste to the landfill or incinerator by:
- Reducing the amount of products we buy so that we produce less waste.
- Reusing and protecting products we buy to limit replacing them.
- Recycling products we can no longer use to recapture those resources.
Why Zero Waste? – Eighty-seven bins of natural resources (wood, soil, water, oil, gas, etc.) go into creating one bin’s worth of products. It takes huge amounts of energy to produce those products, and when we throw them into a landfill, or burn them, we lose those natural resources. Then, we have to extract more natural resources to make more of that product.
Redesigns the current, one-way industrial system into a circular system modeled on Nature’s successful strategies– creating products and packaging that are durable, can be reused or easily recycled .
Provides waste-based business opportunities to create jobs from discards
And Recognizes the importance of producer responsibility
Aims to eliminate rather than manage waste and Works to end taxpayer subsidies for use of virgin materials enabling reused and recycled products to compete.
Adopting zero waste strategies for your society – Becoming a ‘zero waste’ community is not about never generating any waste at all, but rather a policy goal to work towards. To realize the promise of Zero Waste the society must:
- expand recycling programs
- increase participation in those programs
- improve decentralized recycling and composting opportunities
- encourage others to develop innovative and effective methods of waste reduction
- develop incentives to move public and private interests toward Zero Waste methodologies
- educate to encourage attitudes and behaviours toward green purchasing, resource conservation and recycling.