An Examination Of The Zero Waste Concept Environmental Sciences Essay

1677 words (7 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Environmental Sciences Reference this

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The concept of zero waste was first conceived in the mid 1970’s in a company named Zero Waste Systems Incorporation (ZWS), by a chemist Paul Palmer (PhD) in the city of Oakland, California. On discovering the enormous amount of reusable chemicals been discarded by the then developing electronics industry he was convinced that reworking and or reselling the chemicals was portrayed a potential money making venture hence the collection and recycling of these chemicals brought about the reality of zero waste [1]. Theoretically, zero waste promotes the redesign of resource life cycles in order to enhance the reuse of products. This concept minimizes any waste going to landfill or burning by incineration.

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In the past decade, intense focus has been on residential recycling has a solution to solid waste reduction. However, success derived from waste diverted from landfill is not enough for total waste elimination. Zero waste is a practical and imaginative goal designed to guide people to imitate sustainable natural cycles in which disposed materials are potential resource for other uses. Zero waste implies creating and managing installations, processes and products in order to minimize the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserving and recovery of resources avoiding any disposal to incineration or land filling. Executing zero waste will eradicate release into air, land or water which may pose harmful threats to the environment, plant or animal health [2].

Advocates for zero waste concepts across the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia, Canada, UK and other European countries have called for the decarbonisation of economies and replacement with green jobs as the way out of the current economic downturn. Rick Anthony a lobbyist from Zero Waste International Alliance reiterated that carbon based economy is a wasteful economy which has reached its limit and if human’s are going to sustain their existence, a systematic approach of natural cycles is needed to design an economy that produces no waste. He concluded waste is the product of a dysfunctional economy and as such should be modified in order to create greener jobs, reduced climate change and enhanced health and local sustainability. Likewise, UK coordinator for Zero Waste Europe, Maxine Narburgh, recommended to G20 governments concepts of waste hierarchy rather than investing in incinerators or landfills as this encourages ” a linear throw-away society” [3].

The concept of zero waste eliminates the stereotyped ideology concerning waste and rebrands it as a valuable resource rather than material waiting to be disposed.

This paper aims to evaluate the concept of ‘Zero Waste’ in relation to municipal solid waste management.

2 METHODOLOGY

Resources employed for this paper were taken majorly from internet sites that shed light on this topic. Also, information was gathered from class work. Text used was obtained from university library.

3 ZERO WASTE IN RELATION TO MUNICIPAL WASTES MANAGEMENT

Implementing zero waste will have a diminishing effect on waste going to landfill or incineration as production and consumption loops are closed. Municipal waste catered for by waste collection authority (local authority) includes household waste, market waste and some commercial waste. They include biodegradable, recyclable, inert, composite and household hazardous wastes. Achieving zero waste within this sector requires responsible product design from manufacturers (source reduction and minimal negative environmental impacts), active municipal recycling and composting program. Materials going to waste should be considered for reuse, recycling, repair and composting as such maintaining 100% diversion of waste going to landfill or incineration.

Canadian Ontario province produces about 9 million tonnes per year equivalent to one ton per person. Currently, there are no set provincial strategies for waste diversion though the ministry of environment produced a waste reduction in 1991 which is now moribund. However, various activities concerning waste reduction are carried out through voluntary initiatives and waste management options are now local responsibility requiring each municipality creating their own waste management policy. Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment created Waste Diversion Organization (WDO) with authority to blue box recycling, organic waste composting, and household hazardous waste. Ontario legislated a Waste Diversion Act (WDA) which created Industry Funding Organization (IFO) paved way for Stewardship Ontario. The WDA requires all stewards (companies injecting packaging and printed paper into the Ontario consumer stream) to partake in funding 50% Ontario blue box and blue bag WDA program. Waste management responsibilities including recycling and disposal rest on Ontario’s municipalities. Municipalities with more than 5000 residents are obliged by Ontario’s 3R regulations to provide recycling and backyard composting facilities [7].

Target Zero Canada (TZC) – a program of Earth Day Canada with a goal of total waste elimination. It integrates businesses, public sector and non-governmental organizations in its agenda to promote policies for government sectors and corporation emphasizing resource efficiency, reuse and recycling target. TZC focuses on key areas including producer responsibility, product take back and reuse,

3.1 ZERO WASTE IN SCOTLAND

Scottish government created a programme known as “zero waste Scotland” in order to achieve its zero waste plan by helping individuals, business and local authorities to reduce waste, enhance recycling and efficiently utilize natural resources. Achieving zero waste in Scotland started with the launch of National Waste Plan in 2003 by SEPA and the Scottish executive, it was hinged on 4 key principles including the waste hierarchy (waste prevention, reuse and refurbishment, recycling and composting, energy recovery and disposal), proximity and self sufficiency, polluter pays and best practicable environmental option (BPEO) [4].

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead in 2008 proposed new targets for the percentage of municipal waste (MW) to be recycled or composted in the year’s 2010,2013,2020 and 2025 to 40%,50%,60% and 70% respectively. Also, percentage of MW used for energy in the year’s 2010,2013,2020 and 2025 to 4%,14%,25% and 25% respectively while percentage of MW going to landfill in the year’s 2010,2013,2020 and 2025 to 56%,36%,15% and 5% respectively [5].

Organizations like WRAP Scotland, Envirowise in Scotland, NISP in Scotland, Remade Scotland and a host of others will be integrated to achieve the zero waste feat by 2010/11. To this end individuals of households are enjoined to support home composting, junk mail rejection, carrier bag reuse and avoiding food waste. Retailers of business are to reduce packaging, cooperate with government to reduce plastic bag use and persuade manufacturers to produce recyclable products. Moreover, the community recycling project which created public recycling sites and kerbside segregated collection. Municipal solid wastes collected are moved to transfer station (material reclamation facility) and then treatment station as seen in Scotland today is good step in the right direction. A good example of treatment facility is the William Tracey Recycling facility. Moreover, waste exchange schemes in Scotland has helped in promoting the zero waste plan as “one man’s poison proves to be another’s meat”.

The Scottish government pragmatic principles have produced encouraging results of 29.8% recycling/composting rate for municipal waste. Increase in zero waste funds from £41.1 million in 2008/09, £54.4 million in 2009/10 and £58.7 million in 2010/11 is a dedicated attempt to deliver the zero waste reality. However, more needs to be done to properly utilize funds and and residential areas.

4 ANALYSIS

Zero Waste is a philosophy and a goal. Only by “closing the loop” can we hope to develop a sustainable economy.

The idea is to reduce consumption as much as possible by using design-for-environment in all products and their packaging, and to make all products and packaging recyclable.

Achieving Zero Waste depends on designing products and industrial processes so that their components can be dismantled, repaired and/or recycled.

Zero Waste means linking communities, businesses and industries so that one’s waste becomes another’s feedstock. It means preventing pollution at its source. It means new local jobs in communities throughout British Columbia.

The aim of zero waste is to maximise recycling, minimise waste and ensure that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace.

5 CONCLUSION

In the writer’s opinion, any product that can not undergo low energy recycling be banned from production. Enacting legislations in support of this however difficult it might pose will go a long way in diminishing waste generated from product use. Achieving zero waste requires

Reduce our waste

2.  Make it less toxic

3.  Dispose of the residue safely

Strengthen waste reduction targets and support programs

Develop sector-specific targets

Specific attention needs to be given to those areas where there is a strong potential for improvement, such as:

a composter in every backyard

recycling in all apartment buildings

household hazardous waste collection (and reduction)

Support environment-friendly disposal options

Garbage is too valuable a resource to throw away.  Innovative technologies, such as the Canada Composting facility in Newmarket, should be the first resort for handling the residual waste

The concept of zero waste was first conceived in the mid 1970’s in a company named Zero Waste Systems Incorporation (ZWS), by a chemist Paul Palmer (PhD) in the city of Oakland, California. On discovering the enormous amount of reusable chemicals been discarded by the then developing electronics industry he was convinced that reworking and or reselling the chemicals was portrayed a potential money making venture hence the collection and recycling of these chemicals brought about the reality of zero waste [1]. Theoretically, zero waste promotes the redesign of resource life cycles in order to enhance the reuse of products. This concept minimizes any waste going to landfill or burning by incineration.

In the past decade, intense focus has been on residential recycling has a solution to solid waste reduction. However, success derived from waste diverted from landfill is not enough for total waste elimination. Zero waste is a practical and imaginative goal designed to guide people to imitate sustainable natural cycles in which disposed materials are potential resource for other uses. Zero waste implies creating and managing installations, processes and products in order to minimize the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserving and recovery of resources avoiding any disposal to incineration or land filling. Executing zero waste will eradicate release into air, land or water which may pose harmful threats to the environment, plant or animal health [2].

Advocates for zero waste concepts across the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia, Canada, UK and other European countries have called for the decarbonisation of economies and replacement with green jobs as the way out of the current economic downturn. Rick Anthony a lobbyist from Zero Waste International Alliance reiterated that carbon based economy is a wasteful economy which has reached its limit and if human’s are going to sustain their existence, a systematic approach of natural cycles is needed to design an economy that produces no waste. He concluded waste is the product of a dysfunctional economy and as such should be modified in order to create greener jobs, reduced climate change and enhanced health and local sustainability. Likewise, UK coordinator for Zero Waste Europe, Maxine Narburgh, recommended to G20 governments concepts of waste hierarchy rather than investing in incinerators or landfills as this encourages ” a linear throw-away society” [3].

The concept of zero waste eliminates the stereotyped ideology concerning waste and rebrands it as a valuable resource rather than material waiting to be disposed.

This paper aims to evaluate the concept of ‘Zero Waste’ in relation to municipal solid waste management.

2 METHODOLOGY

Resources employed for this paper were taken majorly from internet sites that shed light on this topic. Also, information was gathered from class work. Text used was obtained from university library.

3 ZERO WASTE IN RELATION TO MUNICIPAL WASTES MANAGEMENT

Implementing zero waste will have a diminishing effect on waste going to landfill or incineration as production and consumption loops are closed. Municipal waste catered for by waste collection authority (local authority) includes household waste, market waste and some commercial waste. They include biodegradable, recyclable, inert, composite and household hazardous wastes. Achieving zero waste within this sector requires responsible product design from manufacturers (source reduction and minimal negative environmental impacts), active municipal recycling and composting program. Materials going to waste should be considered for reuse, recycling, repair and composting as such maintaining 100% diversion of waste going to landfill or incineration.

Canadian Ontario province produces about 9 million tonnes per year equivalent to one ton per person. Currently, there are no set provincial strategies for waste diversion though the ministry of environment produced a waste reduction in 1991 which is now moribund. However, various activities concerning waste reduction are carried out through voluntary initiatives and waste management options are now local responsibility requiring each municipality creating their own waste management policy. Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment created Waste Diversion Organization (WDO) with authority to blue box recycling, organic waste composting, and household hazardous waste. Ontario legislated a Waste Diversion Act (WDA) which created Industry Funding Organization (IFO) paved way for Stewardship Ontario. The WDA requires all stewards (companies injecting packaging and printed paper into the Ontario consumer stream) to partake in funding 50% Ontario blue box and blue bag WDA program. Waste management responsibilities including recycling and disposal rest on Ontario’s municipalities. Municipalities with more than 5000 residents are obliged by Ontario’s 3R regulations to provide recycling and backyard composting facilities [7].

Target Zero Canada (TZC) – a program of Earth Day Canada with a goal of total waste elimination. It integrates businesses, public sector and non-governmental organizations in its agenda to promote policies for government sectors and corporation emphasizing resource efficiency, reuse and recycling target. TZC focuses on key areas including producer responsibility, product take back and reuse,

3.1 ZERO WASTE IN SCOTLAND

Scottish government created a programme known as “zero waste Scotland” in order to achieve its zero waste plan by helping individuals, business and local authorities to reduce waste, enhance recycling and efficiently utilize natural resources. Achieving zero waste in Scotland started with the launch of National Waste Plan in 2003 by SEPA and the Scottish executive, it was hinged on 4 key principles including the waste hierarchy (waste prevention, reuse and refurbishment, recycling and composting, energy recovery and disposal), proximity and self sufficiency, polluter pays and best practicable environmental option (BPEO) [4].

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead in 2008 proposed new targets for the percentage of municipal waste (MW) to be recycled or composted in the year’s 2010,2013,2020 and 2025 to 40%,50%,60% and 70% respectively. Also, percentage of MW used for energy in the year’s 2010,2013,2020 and 2025 to 4%,14%,25% and 25% respectively while percentage of MW going to landfill in the year’s 2010,2013,2020 and 2025 to 56%,36%,15% and 5% respectively [5].

Organizations like WRAP Scotland, Envirowise in Scotland, NISP in Scotland, Remade Scotland and a host of others will be integrated to achieve the zero waste feat by 2010/11. To this end individuals of households are enjoined to support home composting, junk mail rejection, carrier bag reuse and avoiding food waste. Retailers of business are to reduce packaging, cooperate with government to reduce plastic bag use and persuade manufacturers to produce recyclable products. Moreover, the community recycling project which created public recycling sites and kerbside segregated collection. Municipal solid wastes collected are moved to transfer station (material reclamation facility) and then treatment station as seen in Scotland today is good step in the right direction. A good example of treatment facility is the William Tracey Recycling facility. Moreover, waste exchange schemes in Scotland has helped in promoting the zero waste plan as “one man’s poison proves to be another’s meat”.

The Scottish government pragmatic principles have produced encouraging results of 29.8% recycling/composting rate for municipal waste. Increase in zero waste funds from £41.1 million in 2008/09, £54.4 million in 2009/10 and £58.7 million in 2010/11 is a dedicated attempt to deliver the zero waste reality. However, more needs to be done to properly utilize funds and and residential areas.

4 ANALYSIS

Zero Waste is a philosophy and a goal. Only by “closing the loop” can we hope to develop a sustainable economy.

The idea is to reduce consumption as much as possible by using design-for-environment in all products and their packaging, and to make all products and packaging recyclable.

Achieving Zero Waste depends on designing products and industrial processes so that their components can be dismantled, repaired and/or recycled.

Zero Waste means linking communities, businesses and industries so that one’s waste becomes another’s feedstock. It means preventing pollution at its source. It means new local jobs in communities throughout British Columbia.

The aim of zero waste is to maximise recycling, minimise waste and ensure that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace.

5 CONCLUSION

In the writer’s opinion, any product that can not undergo low energy recycling be banned from production. Enacting legislations in support of this however difficult it might pose will go a long way in diminishing waste generated from product use. Achieving zero waste requires

Reduce our waste

2.  Make it less toxic

3.  Dispose of the residue safely

Strengthen waste reduction targets and support programs

Develop sector-specific targets

Specific attention needs to be given to those areas where there is a strong potential for improvement, such as:

a composter in every backyard

recycling in all apartment buildings

household hazardous waste collection (and reduction)

Support environment-friendly disposal options

Garbage is too valuable a resource to throw away.  Innovative technologies, such as the Canada Composting facility in Newmarket, should be the first resort for handling the residual waste

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