Nebraska Recycling Council

Zero Waste

Zero Waste is a concept that defines how our current linear system of “take, make and dispose” can be transformed to ensure that natural and man-made resources are not wasted or down-cycled. Zero Waste is a cyclical system that emphasizes keeping resources in the production loop for as long as possible by reducing consumption and reusing items, building durable items that can be repaired or reconfigured, and redesigning to eliminate toxic materials.

While recycling is a part of Zero Waste, it is not the goal. Instead, Zero Waste emphasizes the highest and best use of materials.

Zero Waste International Alliance (zwia.org) definition:

“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.”

What’s wrong with landfilling?

Climate

Landfills are a top source of methane – a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year period. Reduction of methane has more immediate impact on climate change and requires much smaller investments than CO2 reduction infrastructure.

Air

Landfill gas volatile organic compounds and other hazardous air pollutants that can cause cancerous illnesses and a variety of health problems in humans, and create harmful ground level ozone.

Economy

As demand for resources increases and supply dwindles, we are spending more time and energy searching for resources, when their recovery could capture and repurpose them– all while creating 10x as many jobs as landfilling.

Water

Landfill leachate can contaminate groundwater with heavy metals, organic and inorganic pollutants and other toxins; making groundwater unsafe without costly remediation efforts.

Soil

Landfill leachate can saturate and toxify soils in surrounding areas and flammable gas can leach through the soil and cause fires and explosions near landfills.

 

 

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