Promoting Zero Waste to Landfill

Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused.

The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature. A working definition of zero waste, the definition is "Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health."

In industry this process involves creating commodities out of traditional waste products, essentially making old outputs new inputs for similar or different industrial sectors. An example might be the cycle of a glass milk bottle. 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 disposed in a landfill or similar. But with a zero-waste method, the bottle can be saddled at the time of sale with a deposit, which is returned to the bearer upon redemption. The bottle is then washed, refilled, and resold. The only material waste is the wash water, and energy loss has been minimised.

Zero waste can represent an economical alternative to waste systems, where new resources are continually required to replenish wasted raw materials. It can also represent an environmental alternative to waste since waste represents a significant amount of pollution in the world.