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Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of product life cycles so that all products are reused over and over. Ideally, dumps and incinerators become no more than a bad memory. The process is superficially similar to the way that resources are reused in nature but is actually quite different. In nature, there is an abundance of high energy inputs, particularly sunlight, oxygen and microbes, which allows a high degree of entropic wastefulness. Low entropy living things such as corpses, flesh, bone, cellulose and proteins are normally reduced all the way down to basic, high entropy molecules such as carbon dioxide and water. Then they must be reconstituted again into higher organisms. Human industry, where every input is counted, cannot afford such a wasteful approach but must use its highly assembled products for their highest functions. It is essential that this NOT be confused with making a NEW application of a once used product. This has nothing whatever to do with and no overlap with what has come to be called recycling. Because so many people, when faced with the need to illustrate product reuse pine nostalgically for the example of a glass milk bottle, I will deal with that here. The primary input (or resource) is silica-sand, which is formed into glass and then into a bottle. The bottle is filled with milk and distributed to the consumer. At this point, normal waste methods would see the bottle destroyed by being smashed back to silica sand, in a recycling approach, or buried, in a dumping approach. . But with a zero-waste method, the one person who KNOWS the history of the bottle i.e. that it contained only pure milk and not urine or dirt should be the one to clean it out and ultimately refill it. This is the principle of USER RESPONSIBILITY. At no time should any third party, without knowledge of the continued history of the bottle, be given the bottle. That results in processing waste since that third party now has to assume the worst history. Every bottle would then have to be rigorously (and wastefully and expensively) cleaned as though it could have had the worst poison placed in it. The user knows exactly what the bottle contained and is under no need to use harsh chemical cleaning.just in case.Note how this differs strongly from the DEPOSIT AND TAKEBACK system for the bottles. This was the first system that the nascent bottling industry came up with and where their thinking is unfortunately still mired. Deposit bottles are not a Zero Waste method as they are not optimally conservative.We will be saddled with deposit systems for a while yet due to the absence of the missing link in the Zero Waste approach. To make user refilling a reality, the user needs to have available a REFILLING STATION for milk, and hopefully hundreds more products, so that she has the power to refill that bottle. But we need to keep the theoretical distinction between Zero Waste and other, more wasteful methods, alive in our minds, our designs and our consciousness so that we can someday complete the cycle of Zero Waste reuse.Electronic devices are easily seen to be highly assembled and it is easy to visualize the enormous, energy consuming and expensive factories that are needed to produce them. Obviously, reusing their parts in their highest function is a worthwhile goal. But there are more subtle instances of low entropy assemblies. Polymers, often in the form of plastics, are made from monomer molecules that are carefully and exquisitely, caused to combine into long chains. This takes heat, attention, expense, control, equipment etc. A PLASTIC IS NOT A MERE MATERIAL TO BE DISCARDED. A plastic is a highly assembled, coordinated product that must not be cavalierly destroyed if any way at all can be found to reuse it. In a Zero Waste approach, plastics, when they are formed into shapes, must make use of standardized shapes which are maximally interchangeable. If a car or a copying machine or an MRI machine is retired, its plastic parts should all go on to lives of their own in new products using the same shapes based on compatible properties and compositions. This can fairly easily be done. In today's world, products are designed for MAXIMUM WASTE. Parts that could easily be made interchangeable are purposely made incompatible for marketing and market share reasons. The planet cannot tolerate this level of purposeful wastefulness. The process of stepping back from this kind of adventurous wastefulness is called Zero Waste design.Zero waste can represent an economical alternative to waste systems, where new resources are continually required to replenish wasted raw materials. While it may not serve a marketing purpose, it serves the higher goal of preserving our one special planet. Some local expense by a single company is as naught compared to the preservation of our planet. Economics can never be allowed to drive industrial design when those economics are bought at the expense of the planet. When wasteful methods are said to be cheaper, it almost always follows that that cheapness is bought at the expense of externalizing even larger costs to the public. That kind of economic calculation is bogus. ZW can also represent an environmental alternative to waste since waste represents a significant amount of pollution in the world (garbage patch))Global Principles for Zero Waste Communities (as amended by participants of the Fifth International Zero Waste Dialogue, Naples, Italy, Feb 18-22, 2009)DRAFTPreamble.The future of the human species, or at least a world population surviving with the standard of living as experienced in industrialized countries for most of the last century, is under serious threat on at least three fronts: human and environmental health, sustainability and inequitable distribution of the world’s resources.Human and environmental health is threatened on a number of fronts: soils desertification (depleted of organics); electromagnetic radiation; nuclear radiation; air pollution in the form of aerosols and nanoparticles (ultrafine particles of less than 0,1 micron in diameter) which contain toxic metals, stabilized free radicals and many highly toxic and persistent substances like dioxins and furans; a rapidly decreasing supply of clean water, and substances emitted into the air which deplete the protective ozone layer and contribute to global warming. A child born today has literally hundreds of chemicals in it body due to industrial activities and waste disposal practices.Moreover, an ever-increasing world population coupled with an increase in per capita material and energy consumption threatens sustainability of our industrialized societies as never before. One estimate indicates that we would need 1.3 planets to sustain today’s world average per capita consumption; 2.5 planets if everyone consumed at the European level and 5 planets if everyone consumed at the U.S. level.The problem of over-consumption, is compounded by prolific advertising, as well as non-sustainable waste disposal practices.Since World War II bureaucrats and waste experts have argued therelative advantages and disadvantages of landfilling and incineration. Citizens who have lived with these end-of-pipe solutions want neither. Moreover, it is scientifically established that current waste disposal methods are polluting and damaging our health.Zero waste is not sufficient in of itself to reduce every health threat or to guarantee a transition to a sustainable or more equitable society but it is a critical stepping-stone to other necessary steps in the efforts to protect health, improve equity and reach sustainability. Zero waste can be linked to sustainable agriculture, architecture, energy, industrial, economic and community development. Every single person in the world makes waste and as such is part of a non-sustainable society. However, with good political leadership, everyone should be engaged in the necessary shift towards a sustainable society .Good political leadership in this matter involves treating citizens as key allies rather than the enemy in the battle to protect human health and the environment and in making the transition to a sustainable future..However, it is important not to combine ZW with every other desirable environmental goal in a paroxysm of inclusiveness. ZW does not apply to any little environmental improvement, no matter how tiny or how far removed from industrial and commercial design. It never revolves around a change in destruction or disposal. It must be kept in mind that ZW is a method of redesigning products for long term reuse, even though other benefits may, and do, accrue. It is never an EOP method but a Front-of-pipe method. No other principle has ever been identified that can reduce waste like reuse and that can never be optimal if applied as EOP.Principles and Practical steps towards Zero Waste.We encourage ALL communities to:1. Adopt those changes which are available on the community level, as opposed to product redesign itself. There are hundreds of changes natural to communities. Information gathering e.g. of chemical usage is important. A legislative attitude toward planned obsolescence is another. A state can impose serious restrictions on methods of manufacturing. a requirement for standardized products of every kind can be imposed.2. Establish benchmarks and a timeline to meet interim and final goals. Communities should aim to make significant strides within five years, It is essential to eliminate the political power of garbage companies since the goal is to make them irrelevant.3. Engage the whole community. It is important not to leave zero waste to “waste experts.” In fact, that is a contradiction in terms. Zero Waste has nothing to do with waste or how to manage it. An expert in such a field is of no value at all. Many different skills need to be deployed in the movement towards zero waste and sustainability. Everyone has a role to play. Citizens need to take the leadership role in organizing meetings to engage all sectors of the community. All agencies (NGO’s, grassroots movements and governmental) that provide reuse. Composting services should be created since compost is one way of insuring agricultural reuse of ag products. All of these groups and individuals should be challenged to study and understand the subtleties of Zero Waste planning. Along the way,. it is essential to shed the misapprehensions and easy generalizations that generations of throwing away garbage have fostered. For example, it must be repeated over and over that there will not always be garbage, any more than there will always be smallpox.4. Demand decision makers manage resources not waste. Existing incinerators must be closed down, no new ones built and landfills phased out.. Neither landfills nor incinerators are an appropriate response to the challenge of peak oil, . More energy can be saved, and global warming impacts decreased, by reducing waste, reusing products and composting than can be produced from burning discards or recovering landfill gases. Communities should fight any effort to introduce new incinerators,6. Educate residents, businesses and visitors. Zero waste is a strategy not a technology. As such, it aims for better organization, better education and better industrial design. To achieve the cultural change needed to get to Zero Waste, communities must establish programs to educate and train residents, school children, college students, businesses, and visitors about new rules and programs.7. Perform Zero Waste Assessments but be sure these are not studies of waste. Far too much money has been spent already studying waste. What is needed is to study reuse by design. Many products (not even the majority) will be used by residents of a community and it is essential that there be created an infrastructure of reuse of those products. Do not be misdirected into the study of waste or EOP methods of any kind. Do not waste time with recycling but direct all efforts into methods of redesign. If there is a college or university, establish a department of Zero Waste..8. Build Research Facilities. In the interim phase, residuals should be sent to Research Facilities built in colleges.. These facilities should act as a way of linking community responsibility to industrial responsibility. If the community can’t reuse it, industry shouldn’t be making it.9. Develop New Rules and Incentives to move towards Zero Waste - Communities can significantly change what is “economic” in the local marketplace with new policies, new rules and new incentives. Communities should restructure contracts and policies to make the avoided costs of collection and disposal a key engine for moving towards Zero Waste. “If it can't be reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned, or removed from production.”10. Avoid becoming ensnared in superficially appealing but poorly thought out programs like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). These programs make claims which cannot be substantiated. They can't even be well reasoned. They claim that sending used goods back to manufacturers or distributors (no one knows exactly what this means) will some how result in better design. If you truly want better design, then create and impose better design. There is no need for vague, distant influences to hopefully (but perhaps not) cause a desired outcome. The outcome is already known. Go for it directly.11. Remove government subsidies for wasting – Governments, particularly in the US, have adopted many tax incentives to encourage mining and timber harvesting that are no longer needed and subsidize the wasting of resources. Governments have also subsidized incinerators under the guise of “Energy from Waste” when in fact such facilities waste energy. Government regulations of landfills have also inadequately addressed leachate and methane generation, which is an indirect subsidy for wasting. Communities should call for the removal of all these subsidies.12. Support Zero Waste Procurement Local governments should adopt the Precautionary Principle for municipal purchasing to eliminate single use products. buy in larger units; use reusable shipping containers; purchase reused, compost products; buy remanufactured equipment; lease, rent and share equipment; buy durables (using life-cycle cost analyses); and encourage businesses and institutions to follow these practices as well.13. Expand Zero Waste Infrastructurea. Zero Waste Infrastructure – . Focus on the value of reusables, not just the tonnage of products in that stream. Establish efficient repair and reuse programs to retain the form and functions of newly designed products. Help reuse products for their original intended use as a priority.. Where possible small local composting operations should be preferred to large centralized facilities. Compost should be used locally to grow food and restore the soils to enhance food security, local self-reliance and sustainability. By sequestering carbon in soils composting further helps to reduce the emission of global warming gases.. Support Zero Waste plans in businesses and institutions - Communities should require all businesses and institutions to subscribe to Zero Waste services,14. Challenge Businesses to lead the way to Zero Waste. . Identify, recognize and promote Zero Waste Businesses locally and challenge others to follow.☃☃History1960s: Zero Waste Systems IncThe term zero waste was first used publicly in the name of a company, Zero Waste Systems Inc (ZWS), which was founded by PhD chemist Paul Palmer in the mid 1970s in Oakland, California. The mission of ZWS was to find new homes for most of the chemicals being excessed by the nascent electronics industry. They soon expanded their services in many other directions. For example, they accepted free of charge, large quantities of new and usable laboratory chemicals which they resold to experimenters, scientists, companies and tinkerers of every description during the 1970s. ZWS arguably had the largest inventory of laboratory chemicals in all of California, which were sold for half price. They also collected all of the solvent produced by the electronics industry called developer/rinse (a mixture of xylene and butyl acetate). This was put into small cans and sold as a lacquer thinner. ZWS collected all the "reflow oil" created by the printed circuit industry, which was filtered and resold into the "downhole" (oil well) industry. ZWS pioneered many other projects.Because they were the only ones in the world in this business, they achieved an international reputation. Many magazine articles were written about them and several television shows featured them. The California Integrated Waste Management Board produced a slide show featuring ZWS's business and the EPA published a number of studies of their business, calling them an "active waste exchange".1998-2003: peakThe movement gained publicity and reached a peak in 1998+2002, and since then has been moving from "theory into action" by focusing on how a "zero waste community" is structured and behaves.Present dayThe tension between zero waste, viewed as post-discard total recycling of materials, and zero waste as the reuse of all high level function remains a serious one today. It is probably the defining difference between established recyclers and emerging zero-wasters. The tension between the literal application of natural processes and the creation of industry-specific more efficient reuse modalities is another tension.Take biodegradable plastic as an example. One side argues that biodegradation of plastic is wasteful because plastic is expensive and environmentally damaging to make and plastic could be more efficiently reused. The other side argues that we are failing at creating a recycling system where most plastic gets recycled, and for plastic that ends up as trash it's much better for it to biodegrade.2006: "Getting to Zero Waste"In 2005, Paul Palmer published a book which summarized and drew from his experiences with ZWS called Getting To Zero Waste.☃☃ This is not primarily a study of chemical reuse but applies the lessons learned there to the theory of universal reuse of all goods.Recycling☃☃One claimed component to zero waste is recycling. The common understanding of recycling is simply that of placing bottles and cans in a recycle bin. The modern version of recycling is much more complicated and involves many more elements. For example, a 2007 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ states that the US recycles at a national rate of 33.4% and includes in this figure is composted materials ☃☃. In addition many worldwide commodity industries have been created to handle the materials that are recycled.California has innovated in many ways. One was to pass AB 939 in 1989 requiring every county to increase its recycling rate every year. When this was seen to be impossible, Bustamonte introduced and passed a bill alllowing much garbage to be counted as recycled even when it goes into a dump. California municipalities thus typically report distended and meaningless recycling rates as a matter of course. San Francisco became one of the latter of hundreds of cities worldwide to embark on a program nominally aimed at 100% recycling by 2020. They claim rates in excess of 70% even though no one knows what a rate means or how to compute it. They do this by taking advantage of the Bustamonte exemption and by ignoring most contributions to discard, such as industrial discard (vastly greater than the residential discards which is all that San Francisco looks at and allied disposals such as large equipment or city renovations.Robert Krausz in his PhD thesis in 2013 showed that there has never been a successful program to phase out dumps by enhanced recycling in the whole world, out of hundreds of announced attempts. It seems clear that San Francisco will similarly fail, and that there will be others to unknowingly and blithely take up the torch after San Francisco, only to fail in turn. The delusion that recycling leads to Zero Waste somehow seems to seize people's imaginations without the need for any research or analysis. Conceptually, the slightest ratiocination would reveal the conflict of concepts. Recycling is EOP. Zero Waste is Front-o☃☃Reduce and reuseZero waste is supported by the enactment of government laws to enforce waste hierarchy of reduce, reuse, and recycle. As these laws take effect more and companies and consumer are introduced to the zero waste concept and the rate of recycling can increase.fThe cooperation, cross-training and merging of bottom-up and top-down strategies, have been the main transition to broaden the movement from its solid waste management base to include issues that are similar to the community sustainability movement (Roper, 2006, p.☃☃315). Zero eveal the conflict of concepts. Recycling is EOP. Zero Waste is Front-oaste requires that we maximize our existing recycling and reuse efforts, while ensuring that products are designed for the environment and having the potential to be repaired, reused, or recycled (“What is Zero Waste?”, para 2).rrying capacity.☃☃Corporate initiativesAn example of a company that has demonstrated a change in landfill waste policy is General Motors (GM). GM has confirmed their plans to make approximately half of its 181 plants worldwide "landfill-free" by the end of 2010. Companies like Subaru, Toyota, and Xerox are also producing landfill-free plants. GM is supposed to have about eighty producing plants twenty months. Furthermore, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked with GM and other companies for decades to minimize the waste through its WasteWise program. The goal for General Motors is finding ways to recycle or reuse more than 90% of materials by: selling scrap materials, adopting reusable parts boxes to replace cardboard, and even recycling used work gloves. The remainder of the scraps might be incinerated to create energy for the plants. Besides being nature friendly, it also saves money by cutting out waste and producing a more efficient production. All these organizations all push forth to make our world clean and producing zero waste.Re-use of wasteThe waste sent to landfills may be harvested as useful materials, such as in the production of solar energy or fertiliser for crops.It may also be reused and recycled for something that we can actually use (Roper, 2006, p.☃☃315). "The success of General Motors in creating zero-landfill facilities shows that zero-waste goals can be a powerful impetus for manufacturers to reduce their waste and carbon footprint," says Latisha Petteway, a spokesperson for the EPA (Carty, 2008, 1b).Construction and deconstructionZero Waste is a goal, a process, a way of thinking that profoundly changes our approach to resources and production. It restructures production and distribution systems to prevent waste from being manufactured in the first place. Recycling on the other hand, has come to mean the mere reuse of materials which is an approach much favored by the garbage industry because it is so ineffective that it poses no threat to the creation of ever more garbage. Recycling of materials is intrinsically an End-of-pipe method (EOP). EOP methods seek to add on a last minute fix rather than dealing with a problem at its source. One of the difficulties in dealing with buildings is that they are invariably constructed on the fly. While they may make use of some standardized components e.g. 8 foot drywall, the degree of standardization is so low as to insure that after one design life of the building, the only way to reuse any component is by destruction and radical disassembly. The components that are sometimes saved (mostly doors, windows, cabinets) then are not in themselves standardized enough to truly be reusable across the board except by inadvertence. Their reuse requires extensive customization in refitting them to a new purpose. This means that deconstruction is at present still a deplorably inefficient system which in no way achieves at this time the high promise of a zero waste approach as a design theory. Today, buildings are taken apart down to the level of materials, thereby guaranteeing waste of far more important higher assembled functions of the building. The parts that we would be able to save- architectural elements, windows, doors, and metals, leave behind a messy mixture of broken materials - wood flooring, brick walls,broken plaster, broken tiles and structural timbers contaminated with nails. In the demolition of traditional buildings, workers generally destroy buildings by wrecking ball or a piece of dynamite..Approximately seventy pounds of mixed waste is generated for about every square foot of the residential building demolition. Today, the disposal costs are far cheaper because subtle laws, regulations, procedures e.g. demolition permits and public assumptions all operate systemically to make destruction the cheaper approach. .It must be borne in mind that this apparent cheapness is not an intrinsic feature of the irresponsibility of destruction but is enforced by many corporate players who know how to profit from wastefulness and insure that all rules favor this approach .The cheapness depends critically on externalizing costs which are paid by all of us, not by the players in the destruction.On the contrary, a Zero Waste approach requires going back to the assembled building and asking how all of it, or a maximized portion of it, can be saved in its most highly assembled form so as to profit from the low entropy of an assembled product compared to the high entropy of disorganized raw materials. In economic terms, this means that all of the expensive labor and inputs (including energy) required to assemble the building should be conserved, not merely the materials. This can be done in different ways, but all require that an analysis of ultimate reuse be completed before the building is built. After construction, it is too late to achieve much.Buildings should be assembled from highly modularized and standardized components. For example, the common steel warehouse hardly consists of more than three parts: a floor slab, rigid supports and a steel shell. The shell can be completely disassembled and reassembled if it is held together with removable fastenings, such as screws. Ditto for the rigid supports that hold up the walls and ceiling. The floor can be assembled as a checkerboard of concrete squares that can be individually taken apart and reassembled elsewhere. (see www.zerowasteinstitute.org>Projects,>Buildings for more ideas). Other kinds of buildings can be assembled from components that resemble whole kitchens, bathrooms, closets, utility harnesses, removable flooring and standard rigid supports. Other components might be entire floors, walls or ceilings. Once again, for emphasis, this level of reusability can never be achieved if it is not designed into the entire architectural approach from the start. The details of doing this kind of design have yet to be worked out but this should not dissuade workers from tackling the job. Then specifications will need to be published and engineering companies will need to manufacture the reusable and standardized components. All of this is eminently doable once the will is there.Market-based campaignsMarket-based campaigns like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the Precautionary Principle have been developed to push for a policy of zero waste. Some examples of these market-based campaigns are Staples, Home Depot and computer take-back campaigns. These campaigns have been inspired by the successful campaigns to pressure McDonald’s to change their meat purchasing practices and also Nike to change its labor practices in Southeast Asia. They are both based on the idea that organized consumers can be active participants in the economy and not just passive subjects. In addition, the same strategy and environmentally/economic considerations are emerging in the construction industry to reduce or eliminate wasted materials in the construction process (Roper, 2006, p.☃☃315).CorporationsInstead of market-based campaigns, there are corporations such as Wal-Mart, Nike, Toyota, and Ford that have set zero waste targets. Jessica Winter argues that zero waste is more spiritually ideal and not realistic (Winter, 2006, p.☃☃2)☃☃.NikeNike is the leader in the multinational for zero waste product design. Nike uses recyclable polymers, water-based solvents, and fabric woven from used soda bottles (Winter, 2007, p.☃☃2).Wal-MartWal-Mart has been working on making their whole company completely sustainable in about two years. Wal-Mart is striving to use less plastic, and removing all chemicals that contain in all of the products. Wal-Mart wants to demonstrate having no dumpsters or compactors behind their buildings at all.In the computer and jewelry department, Wal-Mart is trying to find cost-efficient ways to recycle them. In the food department, Wal-Mart is trying to change the way they purchase seafood. Wal-Mart will set a standard on only buying from sustainable seafood vendors. Wal-Mart’s standard will only buy from fishing companies who do not steal or over-fish from the oceans (Willet, 2004).See also☃☃References☃☃Carty, S. S. (2008, September 5). GM plans to dump use of landfills. USA Today, p. 1b. Retrieved September 23, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database (J0E058745622408)Four new Wal-Marts to use 25% less energy. (2008, January 16). The Toronto Star, p. 1. Retrieved September 23, 2008, from LexisNexis databaseRoper, W. (2006). Strategies for building material reuses and recycle. International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, 6(3/4), 313-345.What is Zero Waste California? (2004, December 6). Zero Waste California [Fact Sheet☃☃. Retrieved September 29, 2008]Winter, J. (2007, March 11). A world without waste-The ‘zero waste’ movement imagines a future where everything is a renewable resource. The Boston Globe, pp. 1-3. Retrieved September 22, 2008, from LexisNexis databaseExternal linksZero Waste NetworkZero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)Eco-CycleEco TextbooksGreen TextbooksGrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN)Zero Waste AllianceDonate TextbooksZero Waste Institute (Paul Palmer's organization)Zero Waste CaliforniaEarth 911Sustainable concepts towards a Zero Outflow Municipality (Zer0-M)Texas Campaign for the EnvironmentRecologyRecovered Resource Blog☃☃wn to basic, high entropy molecules such as carbon dioxide and water. Then they must be reconstituted again into higher organisms. Human industry, where every input is counted, cannot afford such a wasteful approach but must use its highly assembled products for their highest functions. It is essential that this NOT be confused with making a NEW application of a once used product. This has nothing whatever to do with and no overlap with what has come to be called recycling. Because so many people, when faced with the need to illustrate product reuse pine nostalgically for the example of a glass milk bottle, I will deal with that here. The primary input (or resource) is silica-sand, which is formed into glass and then into a bottle. The bottle is filled with milk and distributed to the consumer. At this point, normal waste methods would see the bottle destroyed by being smashed back to silica sand, in a recycling approach, or buried, in a dumping approach. . But with a zero-waste method, the one person who KNOWS the history of the bottle i.e. that it contained only pure milk and not urine or dirt should be the one to clean it out and ultimately refill it. This is the principle of USER RESPONSIBILITY. At no time should any third party, without knowledge of the continued history of the bottle, be given the bottle. That results in processing waste since that third party now has to assume the worst history. Every bottle would then have to be rigorously (and wastefully and expensively) cleaned as though it could have had the worst poison placed in it. The user knows exactly what the bottle contained and is under no need to use harsh chemical cleaning.just in case.

Note how this differs strongly from the DEPOSIT AND TAKEBACK system for the bottles. This was the first system that the nascent bottling industry came up with and where their thinking is unfortunately still mired. Deposit bottles are not a Zero Waste method as they are not optimally conservative.

We will be saddled with deposit systems for a while yet due to the absence of the missing link in the Zero Waste approach. To make user refilling a reality, the user needs to have available a REFILLING STATION for milk, and hopefully hundreds more products, so that she has the power to refill that bottle. But we need to keep the theoretical distinction between Zero Waste and other, more wasteful methods, alive in our minds, our designs and our consciousness so that we can someday complete the cycle of Zero Waste reuse.

Electronic devices are easily seen to be highly assembled and it is easy to visualize the enormous, energy consuming and expensive factories that are needed to produce them. Obviously, reusing their parts in their highest function is a worthwhile goal. But there are more subtle instances of low entropy assemblies. Polymers, often in the form of plastics, are made from monomer molecules that are carefully and exquisitely, caused to combine into long chains. This takes heat, attention, expense, control, equipment etc. A PLASTIC IS NOT A MERE MATERIAL TO BE DISCARDED. A plastic is a highly assembled, coordinated product that must not be cavalierly destroyed if any way at all can be found to reuse it. In a Zero Waste approach, plastics, when they are formed into shapes, must make use of standardized shapes which are maximally interchangeable. If a car or a copying machine or an MRI machine is retired, its plastic parts should all go on to lives of their own in new products using the same shapes based on compatible properties and compositions. This can fairly easily be done. In today's world, products are designed for MAXIMUM WASTE. Parts that could easily be made interchangeable are purposely made incompatible for marketing and market share reasons. The planet cannot tolerate this level of purposeful wastefulness. The process of stepping back from this kind of adventurous wastefulness is called Zero Waste design.

Zero waste can represent an economical alternative to waste systems, where new resources are continually required to replenish wasted raw materials. While it may not serve a marketing purpose, it serves the higher goal of preserving our one special planet. Some local expense by a single company is as naught compared to the preservation of our planet. Economics can never be allowed to drive industrial design when those economics are bought at the expense of the planet. When wasteful methods are said to be cheaper, it almost always follows that that cheapness is bought at the expense of externalizing even larger costs to the public. That kind of economic calculation is bogus. ZW can also represent an environmental alternative to waste since waste represents a significant amount of pollution in the world (garbage patch))Global Principles for Zero Waste Communities (as amended by participants of the Fifth International Zero Waste Dialogue, Naples, Italy, Feb 18-22, 2009)DRAFTPreamble.The future of the human species, or at least a world population surviving with the standard of living as experienced in industrialized countries for most of the last century, is under serious threat on at least three fronts: human and environmental health, sustainability and inequitable distribution of the world’s resources.Human and environmental health is threatened on a number of fronts: soils desertification (depleted of organics); electromagnetic radiation; nuclear radiation; air pollution in the form of aerosols and nanoparticles (ultrafine particles of less than 0,1 micron in diameter) which contain toxic metals, stabilized free radicals and many highly toxic and persistent substances like dioxins and furans; a rapidly decreasing supply of clean water, and substances emitted into the air which deplete the protective ozone layer and contribute to global warming. A child born today has literally hundreds of chemicals in it body due to industrial activities and waste disposal practices.Moreover, an ever-increasing world population coupled with an increase in per capita material and energy consumption threatens sustainability of our industrialized societies as never before. One estimate indicates that we would need 1.3 planets to sustain today’s world average per capita consumption; 2.5 planets if everyone consumed at the European level and 5 planets if everyone consumed at the U.S. level.The problem of over-consumption, is compounded by prolific advertising, as well as non-sustainable waste disposal practices.Since World War II bureaucrats and waste experts have argued therelative advantages and disadvantages of landfilling and incineration. Citizens who have lived with these end-of-pipe solutions want neither. Moreover, it is scientifically established that current waste disposal methods are polluting and damaging our health.

Zero waste is not sufficient in of itself to reduce every health threat or to guarantee a transition to a sustainable or more equitable society but it is a critical stepping-stone to other necessary steps in the efforts to protect health, improve equity and reach sustainability. Zero waste can be linked to sustainable agriculture, architecture, energy, industrial, economic and community development. Every single person in the world makes waste and as such is part of a non-sustainable society. However, with good political leadership, everyone should be engaged in the necessary shift towards a sustainable society .Good political leadership in this matter involves treating citizens as key allies rather than the enemy in the battle to protect human health and the environment and in making the transition to a sustainable future..

However, it is important not to combine ZW with every other desirable environmental goal in a paroxysm of inclusiveness. ZW does not apply to any little environmental improvement, no matter how tiny or how far removed from industrial and commercial design. It never revolves around a change in destruction or disposal. It must be kept in mind that ZW is a method of redesigning products for long term reuse, even though other benefits may, and do, accrue. It is never an EOP method but a Front-of-pipe method. No other principle has ever been identified that can reduce waste like reuse and that can never be optimal if applied as EOP.

Principles and Practical steps towards Zero Waste.

We encourage ALL communities to:

1. Adopt those changes which are available on the community level, as opposed to product redesign itself. There are hundreds of changes natural to communities. Information gathering e.g. of chemical usage is important. A legislative attitude toward planned obsolescence is another. A state can impose serious restrictions on methods of manufacturing. a requirement for standardized products of every kind can be imposed.

2. Establish benchmarks and a timeline to meet interim and final goals. Communities should aim to make significant strides within five years, It is essential to eliminate the political power of garbage companies since the goal is to make them irrelevant.

3. Engage the whole community. It is important not to leave zero waste to “waste experts.” In fact, that is a contradiction in terms. Zero Waste has nothing to do with waste or how to manage it. An expert in such a field is of no value at all. Many different skills need to be deployed in the movement towards zero waste and sustainability. Everyone has a role to play. Citizens need to take the leadership role in organizing meetings to engage all sectors of the community. All agencies (NGO’s, grassroots movements and governmental) that provide reuse. Composting services should be created since compost is one way of insuring agricultural reuse of ag products. All of these groups and individuals should be challenged to study and understand the subtleties of Zero Waste planning. Along the way,. it is essential to shed the misapprehensions and easy generalizations that generations of throwing away garbage have fostered. For example, it must be repeated over and over that there will not always be garbage, any more than there will always be smallpox.

4. Demand decision makers manage resources not waste. Existing incinerators must be closed down, no new ones built and landfills phased out.. Neither landfills nor incinerators are an appropriate response to the challenge of peak oil, . More energy can be saved, and global warming impacts decreased, by reducing waste, reusing products and composting than can be produced from burning discards or recovering landfill gases. Communities should fight any effort to introduce new incinerators,

6. Educate residents, businesses and visitors. Zero waste is a strategy not a technology. As such, it aims for better organization, better education and better industrial design. To achieve the cultural change needed to get to Zero Waste, communities must establish programs to educate and train residents, school children, college students, businesses, and visitors about new rules and programs.

7. Perform Zero Waste Assessments but be sure these are not studies of waste. Far too much money has been spent already studying waste. What is needed is to study reuse by design. Many products (not even the majority) will be used by residents of a community and it is essential that there be created an infrastructure of reuse of those products. Do not be misdirected into the study of waste or EOP methods of any kind. Do not waste time with recycling but direct all efforts into methods of redesign. If there is a college or university, establish a department of Zero Waste.

.8. Build Research Facilities. In the interim phase, residuals should be sent to Research Facilities built in colleges.. These facilities should act as a way of linking community responsibility to industrial responsibility. If the community can’t reuse it, industry shouldn’t be making it.

9. Develop New Rules and Incentives to move towards Zero Waste - Communities can significantly change what is “economic” in the local marketplace with new policies, new rules and new incentives. Communities should restructure contracts and policies to make the avoided costs of collection and disposal a key engine for moving towards Zero Waste. “If it can't be reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned, or removed from production.”

10. Avoid becoming ensnared in superficially appealing but poorly thought out programs like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). These programs make claims which cannot be substantiated. They can't even be well reasoned. They claim that sending used goods back to manufacturers or distributors (no one knows exactly what this means) will some how result in better design. If you truly want better design, then create and impose better design. There is no need for vague, distant influences to hopefully (but perhaps not) cause a desired outcome. The outcome is already known. Go for it directly.

11. Remove government subsidies for wasting – Governments, particularly in the US, have adopted many tax incentives to encourage mining and timber harvesting that are no longer needed and subsidize the wasting of resources. Governments have also subsidized incinerators under the guise of “Energy from Waste” when in fact such facilities waste energy. Government regulations of landfills have also inadequately addressed leachate and methane generation, which is an indirect subsidy for wasting. Communities should call for the removal of all these subsidies.

12. Support Zero Waste Procurement Local governments should adopt the Precautionary Principle for municipal purchasing to eliminate single use products. buy in larger units; use reusable shipping containers; purchase reused, compost products; buy remanufactured equipment; lease, rent and share equipment; buy durables (using life-cycle cost analyses); and encourage businesses and institutions to follow these practices as well.

13. Expand Zero Waste Infrastructure

a. Zero Waste Infrastructure – . Focus on the value of reusables, not just the tonnage of products in that stream. Establish efficient repair and reuse programs to retain the form and functions of newly designed products. Help reuse products for their original intended use as a priority.. Where possible small local composting operations should be preferred to large centralized facilities. Compost should be used locally to grow food and restore the soils to enhance food security, local self-reliance and sustainability. By sequestering carbon in soils composting further helps to reduce the emission of global warming gases.. Support Zero Waste plans in businesses and institutions - Communities should require all businesses and institutions to subscribe to Zero Waste services,

14. Challenge Businesses to lead the way to Zero Waste. . Identify, recognize and promote Zero Waste Businesses locally and challenge others to follow.


History Edit

1960s: Zero Waste Systems Inc Edit

The term zero waste was first used publicly in the name of a company, Zero Waste Systems Inc (ZWS), which was founded by PhD chemist Paul Palmer in the mid 1970s in Oakland, California. The mission of ZWS was to find new homes for most of the chemicals being excessed by the nascent electronics industry. They soon expanded their services in many other directions. For example, they accepted free of charge, large quantities of new and usable laboratory chemicals which they resold to experimenters, scientists, companies and tinkerers of every description during the 1970s. ZWS arguably had the largest inventory of laboratory chemicals in all of California, which were sold for half price. They also collected all of the solvent produced by the electronics industry called developer/rinse (a mixture of xylene and butyl acetate). This was put into small cans and sold as a lacquer thinner. ZWS collected all the "reflow oil" created by the printed circuit industry, which was filtered and resold into the "downhole" (oil well) industry. ZWS pioneered many other projects.

Because they were the only ones in the world in this business, they achieved an international reputation. Many magazine articles were written about them and several television shows featured them. The California Integrated Waste Management Board produced a slide show featuring ZWS's business and the EPA published a number of studies of their business, calling them an "active waste exchange".

1998-2003: peak Edit

The movement gained publicity and reached a peak in 1998+2002, and since then has been moving from "theory into action" by focusing on how a "zero waste community" is structured and behaves.

Present day Edit

The tension between zero waste, viewed as post-discard total recycling of materials, and zero waste as the reuse of all high level function remains a serious one today. It is probably the defining difference between established recyclers and emerging zero-wasters. The tension between the literal application of natural processes and the creation of industry-specific more efficient reuse modalities is another tension.

Take biodegradable plastic as an example. One side argues that biodegradation of plastic is wasteful because plastic is expensive and environmentally damaging to make and plastic could be more efficiently reused. The other side argues that we are failing at creating a recycling system where most plastic gets recycled, and for plastic that ends up as trash it's much better for it to biodegrade.

2006: "Getting to Zero Waste" Edit

In 2005, Paul Palmer published a book which summarized and drew from his experiences with ZWS called Getting To Zero Waste.[1] This is not primarily a study of chemical reuse but applies the lessons learned there to the theory of universal reuse of all goods.

Recycling Edit

Main article: Recycling

One claimed component to zero waste is recycling. The common understanding of recycling is simply that of placing bottles and cans in a recycle bin. The modern version of recycling is much more complicated and involves many more elements. For example, a 2007 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ states that the US recycles at a national rate of 33.4% and includes composted materials in this figure. [2]. In addition many worldwide commodity industries have been created to handle the materials that are recycled.

California has innovated in many ways. One was to pass AB 939 in 1989 requiring every county to increase its recycling rate every year. When this was seen to be impossible, Bustamonte introduced and passed a bill alllowing much garbage to be counted as recycled even when it goes into a dump. California municipalities thus typically report distended and meaningless recycling rates as a matter of course. San Francisco became one of the latter of hundreds of cities worldwide to embark on a program nominally aimed at ZW throu 100% recycling by 2020. They claim rates in excess of 70% even though no one knows what a rate means or how to compute it. They do this by taking advantage of the Bustamonte exemption and by ignoring most contributions to discard, such as industrial discard (vastly greater than the residential discards which is all that San Francisco looks at and allied disposals such as large equipment or city renovations.

Robert Krausz in his PhD thesis in 2013 showed that there has never been a successful program to phase out dumps by enhanced recycling in the whole world, out of hundreds of announced attempts. It seems clear that San Francisco will similarly fail, and that there will be others to unknowingly and blithely take up the torch after San Francisco, only to fail in turn. The delusion that recycling leads to Zero Waste somehow seems to seize people's imaginations without the need for any research or analysis. Conceptually, the slightest ratiocination would


Reduce and reuse Edit

Zero waste is not supported by the enactment of government laws to enforce reuse. In fact, the laws support discard and garbage in all cases. No one can demand to reuse something that another calls unwanted..It would change the entire climate of discard in this country if reuse were legally enforceable even against a desire to discard.

The cooperation, cross-training and merging of bottom-up and top-down strategies, have been the main transition to broaden the movement from its solid waste management base to include issues that are similar to the community sustainability movement (Roper, 2006, p.☃☃315). ZW requires that we maximize our existing reuse efforts, while ensuring that products are designed to be repaired and reused.

Corporate initiatives Edit

An example of a company that has demonstrated a change in landfill waste policy is General Motors (GM). GM has confirmed their plans to make approximately half of its 181 plants worldwide "landfill-free" by the end of 2010. Companies like Subaru, Toyota, and Xerox are also producing landfill-free plants. GM is supposed to have about eighty producing plants twenty months. Furthermore, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked with GM and other companies for decades to minimize the waste through its WasteWise program. The goal for General Motors is finding ways to recycle or reuse more than 90% of materials by: selling scrap materials, adopting reusable parts boxes to replace cardboard, and even recycling used work gloves. The remainder of the scraps might be incinerated to create energy for the plants. Besides being nature friendly, it also saves money by cutting out waste and producing a more efficient production. All these organizations all push forth to make our world clean and producing zero waste.

These corporate initiatives unfortunately all depend on the confusion between EOP recycling and Front-of-pipe Zero Waste. In no case has a significant redesign of product taken place but only an attempt to force EOP methods on existing disposal. Thus there are essentially no major corporate ZW programs to report anywhere.

Re-use of waste Edit

The reuse of waste, after being generated is not an endeavor which advances or affects Zero Waste thinking. There is no overlap.

Construction and deconstructionEdit

Zero Waste is a goal, a process, a way of thinking that profoundly changes our approach to resources and production. It restructures production and distribution systems to prevent waste from being manufactured in the first place. Recycling on the other hand, has come to mean the mere reuse of materials which is an approach much favored by the garbage industry because it is so ineffective that it poses no threat to the creation of ever more garbage. Recycling of materials is intrinsically an End-of-pipe method (EOP). EOP methods seek to add on a last minute fix rather than dealing with a problem at its source. One of the difficulties in dealing with buildings is that they are invariably constructed on the fly. While they may make use of some standardized components e.g. 8 foot drywall, the degree of standardization is so low as to insure that after one design life of the building, the only way to reuse any component is by destruction and radical disassembly. The components that are sometimes saved (mostly doors, windows, cabinets) then are not in themselves standardized enough to truly be reusable across the board except by inadvertence. Their reuse requires extensive customization in refitting them to a new purpose. This means that deconstruction is at present still a deplorably inefficient system which in no way achieves at this time the high promise of a zero waste approach as a design theory. Today, buildings are taken apart down to the level of materials, thereby guaranteeing waste of far more important higher assembled functions of the building. The parts that we would be able to save- architectural elements, windows, doors, and metals, leave behind a messy mixture of broken materials - wood flooring, brick walls,broken plaster, broken tiles and structural timbers contaminated with nails. In the demolition of traditional buildings, workers generally destroy buildings by wrecking ball or a piece of dynamite..Approximately seventy pounds of mixed waste is generated for about every square foot of the residential building demolition. Today, the disposal costs are far cheaper because subtle laws, regulations, procedures e.g. demolition permits and public assumptions all operate systemically to make destruction the cheaper approach. .It must be borne in mind that this apparent cheapness is not an intrinsic feature of the irresponsibility of destruction but is enforced by many corporate players who know how to profit from wastefulness and insure that all rules favor this approach .The cheapness depends critically on externalizing costs which are paid by all of us, not by the players in the destruction.

On the contrary, a Zero Waste approach requires going back to the assembled building and asking how all of it, or a maximized portion of it, can be saved in its most highly assembled form so as to profit from the low entropy of an assembled product compared to the high entropy of disorganized raw materials. In economic terms, this means that all of the expensive labor and inputs (including energy) required to assemble the building should be conserved, not merely the materials. This can be done in different ways, but all require that an analysis of ultimate reuse be completed before the building is built. After construction, it is too late to achieve much.

Buildings should be assembled from highly modularized and standardized components. For example, the common steel warehouse hardly consists of more than three parts: a floor slab, rigid supports and a steel shell. The shell can be completely disassembled and reassembled if it is held together with removable fastenings, such as screws. Ditto for the rigid supports that hold up the walls and ceiling. The floor can be assembled as a checkerboard of concrete squares that can be individually taken apart and reassembled elsewhere. (see www.zerowasteinstitute.org>Projects,>Buildings for more ideas). Other kinds of buildings can be assembled from components that resemble whole kitchens, bathrooms, closets, utility harnesses, removable flooring and standard rigid supports. Other components might be entire floors, walls or ceilings. Once again, for emphasis, this level of reusability can never be achieved if it is not designed into the entire architectural approach from the start. The details of doing this kind of design have yet to be worked out but this should not dissuade workers from tackling the job. Then specifications will need to be published and engineering companies will need to manufacture the reusable and standardized components. All of this is eminently doable once the will is there.

Market-based campaignsEdit

Market-based campaigns like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the Precautionary Principle have been developed to push for a policy of zero waste. Some examples of these market-based campaigns are Staples, Home Depot and computer take-back campaigns. These campaigns have been inspired by the successful campaigns to pressure McDonald’s to change their meat purchasing practices and also Nike to change its labor practices in Southeast Asia. They are both based on the idea that organized consumers can be active participants in the economy and not just passive subjects. In addition, the same strategy and environmentally/economic considerations are emerging in the construction industry to reduce or eliminate wasted materials in the construction process (Roper, 2006, p. 315).

CorporationsEdit

Instead of market-based campaigns, there are corporations such as Wal-Mart, Nike, Toyota, and Ford that have set zero waste targets. Jessica Winter argues that zero waste is more spiritually ideal and not realistic (Winter, 2006, p. 2)[citation needed].

Nike Edit

Nike is the leader in the multinational for zero waste product design. Nike uses recyclable polymers, water-based solvents, and fabric woven from used soda bottles (Winter, 2007, p. 2).

Wal-Mart Edit

Wal-Mart has been working on making their whole company completely sustainable in about two years. Wal-Mart is striving to use less plastic, and removing all chemicals that contain in all of the products. Wal-Mart wants to demonstrate having no dumpsters or compactors behind their buildings at all.

In the computer and jewelry department, Wal-Mart is trying to find cost-efficient ways to recycle them. In the food department, Wal-Mart is trying to change the way they purchase seafood. Wal-Mart will set a standard on only buying from sustainable seafood vendors. Wal-Mart’s standard will only buy from fishing companies who do not steal or over-fish from the oceans (Willet, 2004).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. See Getting to Zero Waste
  2. US EPA, Municipal Solid Waste Fact Sheet 2007 (PDF)

External linksEdit


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