Zero Waste is a philosophy, a target, and it is a call to action that aims to bring an end to the current take, make, and waste mentality of human society.
Zero Waste addresses the entire social system of how we make, consume, and dispose of our “stuff”.
Zero Waste encompasses the principles of conserving resources, minimizing pollution, maximizing employment opportunities, and providing the greatest degree of economic self-reliance.
Adopting a Zero Waste approach to resource management is critical to the future of the planet. Here is why we need to change the entire system of how we make, use, and dispose of stuff.
Currently, our production system goes one way – from earth to dump.
1 We extract natural resources like trees, metals and fossil fuels
2 We manufacture them, often through polluting, toxic, and wasteful practices, into products that have a limited life
3 We distribute these products to communities, often shipping these products long distances for sale and then disposal
4 After we all buy and use these products, we toss them into a landfill or burn them in an incinerator, both of which destroy those resources. When we want or need new products, we just head back to the natural resources like they are in infinite supply.
For every can of garbage at the curb, there are 87 cans worth of materials that come from this linear production system, and the way we extract, manufacture, and destroy resources.
Zero Waste System uses nature as a model. There is no waste in nature.
A Zero Waste System is cyclical, as in nature, and does two fundamental things: It redesigns our systems and resource use – from product design to disposal – to prevent wasteful and polluting practices that lead to environmental issues. It then captures discards and uses them, instead of natural resources, to make new products, creating a much cleaner manufacturing process with less pollution. This new system creates employment and local economic opportunities.
A Zero Waste System has:
- New community-wide policies that take a responsible approach to conserving natural resources, encouraging participation from all sectors, putting public dollars towards conservation education programs, and investing in resource recovery infrastructure.
- New programs in every sector of our society to shift culture away from wasting and toward a sense of responsibility for our planet and its future.
- New manufacturing process and smarter design where manufacturers are held responsible for the full lifecycle of their products, giving them an incentive to design for the environment, NOT the dump or incinerator.
- Resource recovery infrastructure to replace landfills and incinerators, and recover 90% or more of our discards through reuse, composting and recycling.
- An empowered community where everyone has a role in participating in a system that supports your values and priorities, while you continue to call for Zero Waste progress in your community