Zero Waste

Zero Waste is a community-focused approach to managing materials and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

What if we could reduceFamily recycling the waste we create to zero, conserving natural resources, preventing pollution and growing jobs in the process? This concept is called “zero waste” and its goal is to prevent waste rather than manage it.

Zero Waste programs are some of the fastest and most cost effective ways that local governments can contribute to reducing climate change, protecting health, creating green jobs, and promoting local sustainability. Zero Waste involves moving from waste disposal to resource management. “If a product can’t be reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned, or removed from production.”

How Zero Waste Works

Zero Waste TruckZero 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.

UPSTREAM works with organizations around the country to promote the integration of Zero Waste, recycling and product stewardship policies to build a sustainable economy.

Read more

More Jobs, Less Pollution: Growing the Recycling Economy in the U.S., Tellus Institute with Sound Resource Management, 2011