With terms like “zero waste” flitting around the sustainability industry, it can sometimes feel like companies are up against unachievable expectations. To help you get a better understanding of the concept and start setting your own goals, we’re diving into the topic of “Zero Waste to Landfill” - what it means, why it’s important, and how you can get started.
What is Zero Waste to Landfill?
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, Zero Waste is “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.”
While the definition of Zero Waste to Landfill is not regulated and targets vary based on the situation, the generally accepted threshold is 90% of waste is diverted from the landfill. Methods of diverting waste can include reuse, recycling, compost, anaerobic digestion, and animal feed.
When considering methods for diverting waste, keep in mind the waste diversion hierarchy outlined by the EPA. The hierarchy ranks the various management strategies from most to least environmentally preferred:
- Energy Recovery
Why Focus on Waste?
In short, it can lead to cost savings in material costs and disposal cost, looks favorable for your brand, and is a practical step toward a circular economy.
Financially speaking, using resources more efficiently and setting up systems to get more out of your materials naturally leads to cost savings. Also, note the fact that landfills are getting more expensive. As long as we are Earth-bound, land is a finite resource -- and the cost of dumping waste is expected to continue to grow. The rising price of disposal is just one of the reasons why businesses today are focusing on identifying alternative options.
In addition to cost pressures, consumers and the general public demand that companies be held accountable for pollutive practices, now more than ever. Among industrialized nations, the U.S. is one of the largest per capita generators of municipal solid waste. Customers are voting with their dollars, and they want to see companies take action to protect people and planet.
Because of this, more and more major retailers and brands committing to zero waste and circular economy goals. Implementing your own zero waste goals can be a competitive advantage. Companies like Target and Walmart have set ambitious goals; even some cities have committed to zero waste goals.
Where Do I begin Zero Waste to Landfill?
So now you might be asking yourself, where do I even begin with a zero waste to landfill journey? Check out the full blog here including how to start this journey from our Associate Antea Group USA.
For many companies consumers are demanding more sustainable products so this also begins with the actual product development and using less materials or having less of an environmental impact. One of the services available to companies seeking a proactive sustainability solution is a product life cycle assessment. Product life cycle assessment, as a tool for evaluating environmental impacts, provides a basis for planning a decarbonization roadmap. Check out our full blog here on the topic of a Product Lifecycle Assessment.
The way we deal with waste is evolving and our team of global experts have visibility and knowledge in new best practices and innovations for waste strategies including the promotion of circular strategies. Contact us to learn more about our global waste management services.
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