What is ‘Zero Waste’?

What is ‘Zero Waste’?

The ‘Zero Waste’ goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate waste altogether, and value our resources instead of wasting them. The aim is to send nothing to landfill, incinerators or the oceans.

We can move towards this goal by:

  • reducing what we need
  • reusing things as much as possible
  • sending some products to be recycled
  • and composting organic material.

This waste hierarchy diagram shows the priority levels for these actions:

Credit: www.zerowaste.co.nz/why-zero-waste/

We currently have a ‘linear economy’ system. This is where we take resources from the earth, and mainly discard them back into landfills or burn them, when we no longer want or need them.

The goal of Zero Waste is to move to a ‘circular economy’, where the resources are used over and over again.

The definition from the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is:

“Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

Last updated December 20th, 2018


Is Zero Waste achievable?

Zero waste may be more of an ideal rather than an actual target. But it provides guiding principles for working towards eliminating waste streams.

There are plenty of plenty of Zero Waste writers, bloggers and influencers out there with photos of their total rubbish for the year contained in a small glass jar. This is amazing for them, but may not be achievable for everyone. It may put people off trying to reduce their rubbish, as they could feel they are not perfect at ‘zero waste’. This seems a shame, as I think we can all try to produce less waste, even if we don’t get it down to such a minimal amount. Check out my blog post about Progress over Perfection, to read my thoughts on this.

Having said that, I do enjoy reading posts by some great writers and bloggers – this list by Foodprint covers many of my favourites.

Are you making steps to reduce the rubbish you create?

I’d love to hear what you are doing to reduce how much rubbish you throw away – please leave a comment on your wins and challenges.