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Zero waste is a sustainability concept to lower or eliminate waste. It can for example refer to a personal lifestyle or a strategy adopted by a company or community. A Zero Waste lifestyle is based on six principles: Rethink – Refuse – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Rot. The latter refers to composing one’s waste.

Overall, the concept is about rethinking how we produce and consume. It aims to create a more circular approach, considering all parts of a product’s life cycle. The goal is to work against the huge amounts of waste that are gathered around the world today. As waste is bad for the environment and pollutes the Earth.

The definition of Zero Waste

The Zero Waste International Alliance define the concept as:

“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.”

Different movements

The concept is trending all over the world. Many movements work with the theme. For example Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)Zero Waste Europe and Zero Waste Stockholm.

Picture of a landfill.

The ecological footprint

To strive for a sustainable lifestyle is also related to lowering or removing one’s ecological footprint. The ecological footprint (EF) is a measurement of how much of the Earth’s surface is needed to meet the needs of a person, company or country. This includes both the production and the way that the waste is handled. In other words, a product’s entire life cycle. The ecological footprint is a great way to indicate how sustainable one’s consumption is.

More on Zero Waste

Zero waste for an industry (or company) can for example be about lowering or eliminating the use of dangerous chemicals. It can also be about the design or treatment of products. For instance, by making sure to produce products that last for a very long time. Or, at best, biodegradable products.

For example, the concept is achieved by investigating which parts of a product are reusable. A company can also think about using ecological materials as much as possible. Furthermore, a company that works with this concept is not supposed to have any negative effect on the ground, water or air. More so, it should not affect people, nature or animals negatively.

Why is waste bad?

Waste leads to air pollution, soil- and water contamination and climate change. This is because a lot of the waste in the world today is poorly managed. Also, both the transport and treatment of waste release CO2. For example landfills, a typical way of storing waste today, release the greenhouse gas methane. More so, landfills are known to damage the nearby environment. Many times, they also lead to contaminated water.

Example of source: Zero Waste Stockholm

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