Zero waste means reducing what we trash in landfills and incinerators to zero.
Most things can and should be safely and economically recycled, reused or composted. We also need to simply use less and redesign our products so that they are toxic-free and built to last.
Cities around the world, including Buenos Aires, Canberra, Kovalam and San Francisco, have already passed zero waste resolutions and have innovative plans to reduce their waste disposal levels to zero. The leadership in these cities realizes that waste is a sign of an inefficient system. They are modeling efficiency and sustainability by creating well-paying green-collar jobs in the reuse and recycling industries, reducing consumption, and requiring that products be made in ways that are safe for people and the planet. These cities are proving that our air, soil and water do not have to be polluted, and that our natural resources don’t have to be trashed.
Zero waste programs include all of the following strategies:
- Reducing consumption and discards
- Reusing discards
- Extended producer responsibility
- Comprehensive recycling
- Comprehensive composting or bio-digestion of organic materials
- Citizen participation
- A ban on waste incineration
- Effective policies, regulations, incentives, and financing structures to support these systems.
Adopting a zero waste approach to resource management is critical to the future of our planet.