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Building Zero Waste Communities. Tools to take home. Rob Howe Sustainnovation Consult ing October 20, 2009 National Zero Waste Recycling Conference. Principles of Sustainability. What we take from the earth Minerals, metals, natural resources Fossil fuels What we make from the earth

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building zero waste communities

Building Zero Waste Communities

Tools to take home

Rob Howe

Sustainnovation Consulting

October 20, 2009

National Zero Waste Recycling Conference

principles of sustainability
Principles of Sustainability
  • What we take from the earth
    • Minerals, metals, natural resources
    • Fossil fuels
  • What we make from the earth
    • Pesticides, plastics, chemicals
  • What we do to the earth
    • Alter eco systems and reduce living species
  • Meeting fundamental needs
    • Food, shelter, clothing - basic human needs

The Natural Step

life cycle analysis
Life Cycle Analysis
  • “Hidden History” case study
  • 1 ton of finished product comes from 71 tons of energy and materials to produce
  • The Myth of “Away”

Source: Gary Liss & Associates, Natural Capitalism, Lean Thinking, Womack and Jones, google images

islands of plastic
Islands of Plastic

Sources: Across the Pacific Ocean, Plastics, Plastics, Everywhere, CHARLES MOORE / Natural History v.112, n.9, Nov03. Kathy Marks and Daniel Howden, The Independent, Tuesday, 5 February 2008.

Google images,

definition of zero waste
Definition of Zero Waste
  • Zero Waste is a goal that is both pragmatic and visionary, to guide people to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are resources for others to use.
  • Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to reduce 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 may be a threat to planetary,

human, animal or plant health.


what does zero waste mean
What does Zero Waste mean?

"If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned, or removed from production. The goal is to combine aggressive resource recovery and industrial redesign to eliminate the very concept of waste. Eventually, the community’s resource-use system will emulate natural cyclical processes, where no waste exists."

Source: Martin Bourque, Berkeley, CA Ecology Action at the GRRN Zero Waste Conference in NYC in 2005

urban environmental accords united nations environment program
Urban EnvironmentalAccordsUnited Nations Environment Program
  • Establish a policy to achieve zero waste to landfills and incinerators by 2040.
  • Adopt a citywide law that reduces the use of a disposable, toxic, or non-renewable product category by at least fifty percent in seven years.
  • Implement "user-friendly" recycling and composting programs, with the goal of reducing by twenty percent per capita solid waste disposal to landfill and incineration in seven years.


product stewardship through extended producer responsibility epr
Product Stewardshipthrough Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Voluntary product design changes:

  • Design for Environment
  • Biomimicry
  • Industrial Ecology



In response to legislation:

  • Home Appliance Recycling Law (Japan)
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive (Europe)
  • Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive (Europe)
  • End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive (Europe)

Source: Product change resulting from EPR, Pledger, L., 3-10-09

current waste reduction programs
Current Waste Reduction Programs
  • Recycle on the Go
  • Electronics Take Back
  • Beverage Take Back
  • Clean Car Campaign
  • Mercury Policy Project
  • Clean Production Action
  • COOL 2012 Campaign
city of austin tx
City of Austin, TX
  • Achieve UN Urban Environmental Accords Goals
    • Reduce per capita solid waste disposal to landfills by 20% by 2012
    • Zero Waste by 2040 = waste reduction of 90% sent to landfills
  • Lead by example
  • Commercial and Multi-family Recycling regulations
  • Conduct extensive outreach
  • Focus on Composting


zero waste communities
Zero Waste Communities
  • Austin, TX
  • Alaminos City, Philippines
  • Canberra, Australia
  • New Zealand – with over 66% of NZ Cities
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Seattle, WA
  • Boulder, CO
  • Central Vermont Waste Mgt. District
  • San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Fresno, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Del Norte County CA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Santa Cruz County, CA
  • Berkeley, CA
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Marin County
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Nelson, British Columbia and other Regional Districts


epa record setting recycling programs
EPA Record-setting Recycling Programs
  • Compost Yard trimmings
  • Target a wide range of materials
  • Require resident participation
  • Institute economic incentives
  • Design programs for convenience


setting up a recycling program
Setting up a Recycling Program

Step 1 – Identify funding at community or state level

Step 2 – Select a Recycling Coordinator

Step 3 – Determine the Waste Stream

Step 4 – Practice Waste Prevention

Step 5 – Include Concessionaires, Staff, Volunteers

Step 6 – Select a contractor/hauler

Step 7 – Establish a collection program

Step 8 – Facilitate Outreach and Education

Step 9 – Monitor and Evaluate the program



References to help you make Zero Waste a reality

Who What Web link

Zero Waste International Alliance Zero Waste Resources

GRRN Zero Waste Resources

GAIA Zero Waste for Zero Warming

ZERI Zero Emissions Research Initiatives

Eco-cycle Zero Waste Resources

Earth Resource Foundation Zero Waste Business Conferences

ILSR Stop Trashing the Climate Report

Zero Waste Communities List of ZW Communities

ZW Business Principles ZW Business Principles

Zero Waste San Diego City website

Zero Waste British Columbia Recycling Council of BC

Zero Waste New York City NYC ZW program

Zero Waste Businesses ZW reference list

References for Climate Change and Recycling

Who What Web link

U.S. EPA Climate change and environment

Earth 911 Environmental and recycling info

Environmental Literacy Council Climate and environment info

IPCC Climate change

Nat Resources Defense Council Environmental info and resources Climate change, global warming

UN Environment Program Climate change and environment

World Health Organization Climate change and environment

World Resources Institute Climate change and environment

Pew Center for Climate Change Info-conservation and environment











Rob HoweSustainnovation Consulting, a division of Meridian


“Every choice we make

creates the world we live in”

-Phyllis Ballata