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Zero Waste

"Although unheard of a decade ago, there is considerable recent interest in designing industrial production processes that produce zero waste…the goal is a worthy motivator."  Kenneth Geiser, Materials Matter.  Waste causes great loss of value and resources.  Humans are the only species that create waste.  We can learn to identify all types of waste and through their elimination, save money and achieve a more sustainable world.

Zero Waste - What is it all about?  The visionary goal of Zero Waste expresses the need for a closed-loop industrial/societal system. Waste is a sign of inefficiency. Our use of the term Zero Waste includes "Zero Solid Waste", "Zero Hazardous Waste",  "Zero Toxics" and "Zero Emissions".

Zero waste suggests that the entire concept of waste should be eliminated.  Instead, waste should be thought of as a “residual product” or simply a “potential resource” to counter our basic acceptance of waste as a normal course of events.  Opportunities such as reduced costs, increased profits, and reduced environmental impacts are found when returning these “residual products” or “resources” as food to either natural and industrial systems.  This may involve redesigning both products and processes in order to eliminate hazardous properties that make them unusable and unmanageable in quantities that overburden both industry and the environment.

Zero Waste strategies consider the entire life-cycle of our products, processes and systems in the context of a comprehensive systems understanding of our interactions with nature and search for inefficiencies at all stages.  With this understanding, wastes can be prevented through designs based on full life-cycle thinking.  Indeed, we should work to "design" our wastes, if any, so that they have future applications.  A Zero Waste strategy leads us to look for inefficiencies in the use of materials, energy and human resources.  To achieve a sustainable future, extreme efficiency in the use of all resources will be required in order to meet the needs of all of the earth’s inhabitants.  A Zero Waste strategy directly supports this requirement.