What’s the Deal with Zero Waste?

By Andrea Davis on January 25, 2019

One of the terms you may have heard recently is “zero waste.” Many corporations, including General Motors, Google and Procter & Gamble, have adopted varying stages of the zero waste philosophy in an effort to be more environmentally responsible. Even smaller, local businesses are getting in on the act. Some individuals and families strive to achieve zero waste status in their households as well.

Zero waste sounds pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a little more complicated that. Here’s a look at what zero waste really means.

What is zero waste?

According to Wikipedia, zero waste is “a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused.” That’s a basic definition, and after that the details get a little muddy. Some zero waste advocates argue that true zero waste doesn’t include recycling or composting—it only includes reducing waste and reusing items. Others believe the main goal of zero waste is that no waste is thrown in a landfill, so recycling and composting qualify as means to this end. Still others believe that using incineration and other forms of waste-to-energy can be part of a successful zero waste program.

But whatever your feelings on that, we can probably all agree that the basic premise of a zero waste philosophy is to generate as little waste as possible, with the ultimate goal of generating none.

How does a person or company work toward achieving zero waste?

As stated previously, recycling and composting can be part of a zero waste philosophy for many, but the three Rs of zero waste are slightly different than the traditional three Rs. They are: refuse, reduce and reuse. Most of us are used to hearing about reducing and reusing. One easy way to reduce is to implement reusable, rather than disposable, containers. And reusing can be as simple as donating a bag of your child’s clothing to a local charity. But what’s refusing? It’s exactly as it sounds. The next time someone tries to hand you a flyer or a free key chain or a coffee mug you know you won’t use, instead of taking it, try a polite “no thank you.”

Is zero waste possible?

It depends on who you ask. Just as there are different views about what zero waste means, there is some debate about whether zero waste is an achievable goal. But whether you think ending up with zero waste is realistic or not, efforts to obtain zero waste will certainly help us generate less waste and be more thoughtful about what we use and purchase on a regular basis.

How can Granger help with zero waste goals?

Obviously, as a trash hauler, waste is our business. However, at Granger, we see waste as a resource. This means providing waste-diverting opportunities like recycling and composting for customers in much of our service territory. Additionally, the trash we haul to Granger landfills helps to make renewable energy, so it serves a higher purpose.

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