Understanding and Implementing Zero Waste Strategies

Throughout Ontario, there is an environmental transformation taking place. Action taken to reduce the amount of waste that makes its way to landfills is providing the foundation for a more sustainable future. The Waste Diversion Act has also proven to be a vital partner for establishing extended producer responsibility while also outlining the importance of diversion, and the ultimate sustainability goal of zero waste. In the past, when products had reached the end of their usable life, they were typically disposed of as trash or recycled. This approach, referred to as a cradle to grave approach, was the standard for many years. In most recent years, it has been recognized that a cradle to grave approach can result in significant costs in terms of the money spent on the disposal and diversion of waste as well as the higher prices that must be paid for raw materials. Additionally, a cradle to grave approach can also result in significant healthcare costs related to hazardous materials.

More recently, a new zero waste approach has been undertaken. Rather than focusing on a cradle to grave concept, this new approach focuses on cradle to cradle. It looks for opportunities that exist to redesign processes and products with the goal of reducing waste before it is even generated. Additionally, a zero waste approach also focuses on designing products that offer enhanced opportunities for reuse. Zero waste approaches also encourage wastes from one product to be used in innovative ways in other products. As such, cradle to cradle concepts work toward building production methods that are more sustainable, while also supporting opportunities for industries in all sectors to help the environment in whatever way possible.

Ultimately, a zero waste approach is built on the idea that all forms of waste materials contains at least some inherent value and that it is possible to recover that value. Working with a partner experienced in zero waste management programs can often serve as the first step for identifying potential areas of improvement. As an increased focus is placed on the need to divert wastes from landfills and to even reduce waste before it is produced, the need for such services has grown increasingly important. An experienced waste management consulting partner can help.

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