Banner: Zero Waste

z ero Waste is the next step in the American success story called recycling. Everyday more then 150 million citizens do the right thing ... they recycle. Now its time to set our sights higher and start planning for the end to wasting resources and to our reliance on landfills, incinerators and other waste facilities.

Zero Waste is necessary and feasible. As human populations and material use increases, the natural systems that sustain us are suffering from accelerated degradation. Over the next few decades, our society will change in almost every way.

Zero Waste represents a new planning approach for the 21st Century. Zero Waste defines the discipline required to create a more sustainable interaction with our natural world, including the principles of conserving resources, minimizing pollution, maximizing employment opportunities, and providing the greatest degree of local economic self-reliance.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network aims to rekindle the grassroots spirit that made recycling the symbol for sustainability and the most common action that expresses commitment to preserve environmental quality. Our plan is to promote the Zero Waste message at the grassroots -- in the Main Streets and legislative chambers of America.

These policies and actions are needed to move us towards Zero Waste:
  • Manufacturer Responsibility. Waste management is an unfunded mandate that falls almost entirely on taxpayers and local governments. Manufacturers and producers must share responsibility for recovering their products and ensuring that they are recycled and not wasted.
  • Minimum-Content Standards. Manufacturers need to help ‘close the loop’ by using the materials collected in local recycling programs to manufacture new products.
  • Consumer Deposit Programs. Ten states have enacted Bottle Bill programs that have proven to be effective strategies to promote reuse and recycling. Deposit programs on other materials such as tires and batteries have also been proven successful.
  • Unit-Pricing for Trash. Residents and businesses need to be given the incentive to reduce waste and recycle through variable garbage rates. The public must have the opportunity to eliminate their garbage bill if they are to achieve Zero Waste.
  • Full-Cost Accounting and Life-Cycle Analysis. The benefits of waste prevention and recycling should include a full accounting of the costs of resource depletion, remediation, and environmental degradation caused by the alternative: continued reliance on virgin materials and wasting.
  • End Subsidies for the Extraction of Virgin Resources. The time has come to put an end to subsidies for the resource extraction industries.
  • End Cheap Waste Disposal. Landfills and incinerators waste resources and produce pollution in our air, land and water. The time has come to have strong environmental standards and to account for the true long-term cost of waste disposal facilities.
  • Invest in Jobs Through Reuse and Recycling. Waste prevention and recycling provides tremendous opportunity to create jobs and initiate new business ventures.
  • Tax Shifting. Instead of giving incentives for wasting, we should give tax credits and economic incentives for reducing waste and utilizing recovered materials.
  • Campaign Finance Reform. Much of the resistance to changing resource policies comes from industries that profit from wasting.
  • Take Consumer Action against Wasteful Corporations. The public must put pressure directly on corporations that profit from waste.
For more details see:
GRRN Agenda for Action from Wasting and Recycling in the U.S. 2000 report (2000)

CRRA Agenda for a New Millennium by Tedd Ward / California Resource Recovery Association (1998)

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