What does zero waste mean?

What does zero waste mean? | ecogreenlove
Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

“When industry talks about “zero waste”, the goal is to send nothing besides hazardous waste to landfill. To achieve this, materials that previously would have been thrown away are recycled, repurposed or even designed out from the beginning. Simple enough. But is that what actually happens and do consumers even care?” – Sarah LaBrecque

Read the full original article on Guardian Sustainable Business. Find below a rough summary:

1. Zero waste might not necessarily mean zero waste
if a student sets a goal of simply passing a test, they may end up with 50 marks. If that student sets a goal of 95 marks, they may get 80. She concluded that enthusiastic targets are therefore necessary. In the case of many businesses, they’re surprisingly achievable as well.

2. Do zero waste and circular economy mean the same thing?
The discussion began with an attempt to define exactly what zero waste means. Some panelists felt it should not be grouped together with the circular economy. “I would not use the term zero waste when referring to circular economy or sustainability,” said Nick Voulvoulis, reader in environmental technology at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. “It is not just the ‘zero’ we have a problem with – the moment you call something waste you are reducing its value.”

3. Where do consumers come in?
If you, the end consumer, knew what efforts had gone into producing a zero or low waste product, would that change your behaviour as far as recyling or reusing it? Do you support Extended Producer Responsibility or would you like to see more focus on consumer behaviour change?

4. Is it waste, resources, or surplus? Should we care?
But who cares if we call it waste, as long as it doesn’t end up in landfill? “If the material can be reused, recycled, repurposed etc, then it does not matter that it was waste at the beginning of this series of loops,” said McDougall.

5. It’s not all up to business
Scotland has mandated that by 2016 businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste per week will have to put it out for separate collection. What kinds of policies do you think government should put in place to reduce waste? How can your government be a part of the zero waste and circular economy agenda?

SourceGuardian Sustainable Business

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