What is Zero Waste?

In short, zero waste means that instead of throwing things away in the bin, where they get sent to landfill, we look to reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and compost what we use so that ultimately we do not end up throwing anything away in the bin.

The concept of 'zero waste' can be compared to concepts such as 'zero accidents' or 'zero defects' in manufacturing.  It is a target to be strived for rather than an absolute, but should encourage us to think about waste and resources in more innovative and efficient ways.

Changing the way we view our waste and resources should lead to substantial environmental, economic and social benefits and should be sustainable.

Zero waste is a concept that is spreading throughout the globe, particularly in America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and is based on a vision that by using our resources efficiently we can eliminate waste.  Further information can be found at http://www.zerowaste.co.nz/

How can we achieve Zero Waste?

We have adopted a long term vision of zero waste in our waste strategy. It is a challenging and innovative concept that will need involvement from many others including government, businesses, communities and individuals for it to be achieved.

We want to take the lead by raising awareness in the local community, developing re-use, refurbishment and recycling schemes, and encouraging community, business and householder participation.

Zero waste is not something that we can achieve alone as it involves all sectors of the supply chain from design, production, manufacturing, packaging, retail and consumption. However, we can take the lead with a zero waste vision by raising awareness and encouraging local participation.

By adopting a vision of zero waste within our waste strategy, our future policies and services will be shaped towards achieving this vision. 

Challenges to Establishing a Zero Waste Strategy

  • ‘Zero’ is a target to encourage innovation - not an ‘absolute’.
  • Currently there is no legislative requirement to reduce waste
  • Waste generation processes involve all sectors of society and are not easily addressed at a local level
  • Unknown future - future waste minimisation processes and technology will change.
  • Reaching beyond - it is relatively easy to plan to achieve 50% recycling & recovery. Innovation is needed to get beyond these levels.
  • Sustaining and building momentum. We need to continue moving beyond our initial enthusiasm and success.
  • Sustainable solutions - we will need a new way of thinking at a national level to achieve reduced consumerism and increased environmental stewardship at a local level.
  • Resources – investment in new technology and process will be required to achieve progress.

Zero Waste Projects

We run a projects to promote the concept of zero waste.  The two main projects are:

Zero Waste Lunch Project

Children in several local primary schools bring in a 'zero waste lunch' once a week.  The aim is to have a lunch that only consists of items that can be reused, recycled or composted. 

Zero Waste Week

The challenge is to see if you can live for a week by only using things that can be reused, recycled or composted so that you are left with nothing to throw away in the bin. 

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