Zero Waste is sustainable materials management. It is a systemic approach, eliminating waste wherever possible first and foremost, and then managing the remaining materials through reuse, recycling and composting.
Approximately 42% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are associated with the materials we use – from extracting the raw materials, to manufacturing products from them, distributing them, using them, and then finally disposing of them. The following is a breakdown of emissions from these activities:
- 33% are a direct result of producing the materials we all use (includes everything from mining, to growing food, to manufacturing the final product)
- 7% is from distribution and shipping
- 2% is a result of disposing materials in landfills
The production of materials is where the vast majority of impacts occur over a material’s lifecycle which is why it is important to prioritize waste prevention over reuse, recycling, and composting.