Waste Introduction

One Planet-let's not waste it.

The developed world forms only 20% of the global population, yet uses 80% of the world’s resources. (United Nations Development Programme, 1998). Most of these resources are dumped in landfills or burnt after minimal use.

The world population exceeds 7 billion and is growing every second, but use of global resources are skewed.

Zero Waste

Zero Waste is about not wasting the resources that everyone on earth needs.

Zero Waste is a breakthrough strategy that aims to redesign the way that resources and materials flow through our communities. The ultimate goal of zero waste to landfill is to create a closed loop materials economy, where products are made to be reused, repaired and recycled, - an economy that minimises and ultimately eliminates waste.

Zero Waste is a breakthrough strategy defining goals to redesign the way that resources and materials flow through our communities.  The ultimate goal of Zero Waste is to minimise and ultimately eliminate waste.

if Earth was an apple the atmosphere would be skin-thick

We have life on this planet simply because it is surrounded by a very, very thin layer of gas. The lowest layers of the atmosphere and the upper layers of earth and sea together form a living biosphere that is only 13-18 km’s deep. This layer supports all life giving systems on earth. Our oxygen, food and water all exist in this band. The ozone layer, which protects our planet from being shrivelled up by the power of the sun, begins a mere 50 kilometres above our heads. (The Pocket Planet Earth, 1991.-find online reference)

The global economy is dependent on the burning of non-renewable fossil fuels of oil, coal and gas for energy. For every hour a petrol engine operates, it will emit 27 kgs of carbon dioxide, 1.2 kgs of carbon monoxide and 0.3 kgs of hydrocarbon gases. (Ministry for the Environment, 2005). Earth’s gravity holds the larger particulate matter close to the earth’s surface, while some may float up to where the ozone layer begins. Once there, many of these gases change their chemical structures and start ‘munching’ away at the ozone layer, creating dangerously thin areas of protective ozone, allowing more ultraviolet rays to penetrate to the earth’s surface.

Resource Flows

In nature, there is no waste at all, other than physical erosion of minerals - sometimes toxic-  from land, heading towards the oceans.

The leftovers, or by-products, of one process are always the inputs for growth and rejuvenation in another process. For example: a leaf falls from a tree and lies on the surface of the earth. There, it provides food and shelter for a range of creatures. Over time, the leaf disintegrates, releasing minerals, nutrients and trace elements in to the soil, which are then picked up by the roots of plants to generate new growth. If that leaf is landfilled, then not only have we lost all the value inherent in that leaf, but we are also costing ourselves time, money and energy by wasting it.

Current waste management is linear – from us to the landfill. If we want to improve the life sustaining health of our planet, we need to make better use of resources available to us.  Circular resource use follows the flow set by nature – use the old to make the new.

Environmental Effects of Waste        

There’s more to it than meets the eye…

Waste material dumped in landfills has direct impacts: 

Global EffectsLocal Effects  
hole in the ozone layerair pollution
climate change (greenhouse warming)land pollution
acid rainwater pollution from leachate
deforestationlandfill costs
contaminated air, food and water

resource loss

Each person in the developed world will create approximately two kilogrammes of waste materials every day.

Most of these materials consist of valuable resources that have already used lots of energy in their production. At some energy cost, these resources can be re-used, recycled, and composted almost indefinitely, as nature intended.