What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a holistic approach that goes beyond individual actions, involving changes at the community, corporate, and governmental levels. It seeks to promote a circular economy where resources are continuously cycled and waste is minimized, contributing to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.

Principles of Zero Waste

Zero Waste is a sustainability concept and philosophy that aims to minimize the amount of waste generated by individuals, businesses, and society as a whole. The core principle behind Zero Waste is to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials in such a way that no material ends up in landfills, incinerators, or the environment. The ultimate goal is to create closed-loop systems where resources are used efficiently and continuously without generating waste.

Key principles of the Zero Waste approach include:

Reduce (Waste prevention): 

The first and most crucial step is to prevent waste from being generated in the first place. This involves promoting mindful consumption, choosing products with less packaging, and supporting durable and long-lasting goods.


Instead of disposing of items after a single use, the focus is on reusing them multiple times. This can be achieved through repair, refurbishment, or simply finding new purposes for items that would otherwise be thrown away.


Recycling involves processing discarded materials to create new products, reducing the need for raw materials and saving energy. While recycling is important, it's not the primary solution in the Zero Waste hierarchy, as it still requires resources and energy for processing.

Rot (Compost): 

Organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, can be composted to create nutrient-rich soil. Composting helps divert organic waste from landfills and contributes to healthier soil and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): 

The concept of EPR holds manufacturers responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, including post-consumer waste management. This encourages companies to design products with recycling and reuse in mind.

Redesigning systems and products: 

Zero Waste advocates for a shift towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns, including designing products that are easier to repair, recycle, or compost.

Definition of Zero Waste

The Zero Waste International Alliance adopted the first peer-reviewed internationally accepted definition of Zero Waste in November 2004. The current definition was updated in December 2018:

Zero Waste: 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.

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.

Source: https://zwia.org/zero-waste-definition/


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