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For nearly a decade, public policy around solid waste reduction has been narrowly focused on residential recycling. While this has proven to be a successful tool to divert some waste from landfill, it is only a small part of what is required to eliminate waste entirely.

Today, a world-wide movement, whose goal is total waste elimination, is growing. Organizations with a mandate of "Zero Waste" are active in the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia and now Canada.

Right now, in Canada, a strong push is underway to align leading edge businesses, the public sector and non-governmental organizations under the common banner of Target Zero Canada (TZC) - a program of Earth Day Canada.

The Zero Waste agenda encourages specific policies for different levels of government and new system approaches for corporations, and emphasizes resource efficiency, reuse and recycling to reach its full potential. Zero Waste uses best-practice models that have been established by governments, businesses and organizations all over the world as proven examples of success.

TZC is now actively inviting appropriate stakeholders with a view to accumulate a list of supporters to demonstrate multi-sector approval of TZC key messages, world-wide momentum of the Zero Waste movement and to illustrate more effective waste elimination models to legislators and regulators throughout Canada.

What will Target Zero Canada promote?

The elimination of waste revolves around a simple paradigm shift in thought. Waste needs to be considered as a valuable resource, not useless materials waiting for disposal. Throwing away potential resources is expensive, unnecessary and an environmental drain. Resource conservation, materials efficiency, waste prevention, reuse, and recycling are all integral components of a sustainable economy. Compelling arguments need to be made to encourage effective policies for reducing consumption, increasing materials efficiency, and substituting renewable for non-renewable resources.

TZC will showcase existing regional and provincial programs from other parts of Canada and from innovators around the world. These fundamental changes in public policy will form the backbone of TZC communications.

Some key areas of focus for Target Zero Canada include:

  • Producer Responsibility
  • Product Take Back and Reuse
  • Designs and systems for recovery and remanufacturing
  • Incentives to encourage recycled content in products and packaging in order to ensure sound markets for recycled goods
  • Understanding that dealing with waste at the source is more efficient than attempting to capture waste after its end use
  • Create economic instruments to encourage resource conservation
  • Build a comprehensive reuse and recycling infrastructure
  • Eliminating the gap between the price paid for landfilling and the full costs of landfilling

Clearly, the levels of waste elimination in Canada vary dramatically from province to province, region to region. Some regions have been receptive to Zero Waste, others have not. The provincial governments that have demonstrated some creativity and success in waste elimination (BC, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, PEI) will have their programs promoted in order to demonstrate the disparity of public sector waste elimination programs in Canada with a view to encourage innovation and participation in Zero Waste initiatives.

The Launch:
November 21 was the launch day for TZC. A news conference was staged in Toronto to formally introduce the program and its messages.

TZC had representatives of leading-edge businesses, municipalities and provincial governments who briefly outlined their commitment to Zero Waste.

It is our hope that the multi-stakeholder buy-in will translate into positive media coverage, resulting in one key question: If these companies and governments can successfully move towards a Zero Waste economy, what needs to be done to make ZERO WASTE a reality in Canada? What is in our way?

Please consider being a part of this exciting initiative.

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