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Zero Waste

What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste refers to a set of practices that aims to reduce waste at source to minimize landfill and incineration through efficiency, reuse, upcycling, repairs, recovery, recycling and the pursuit of circularity in resource and material use. The Zero Waste parameter promotes the adoption of responsible consumption practices that avoid waste generation from the onset. Organisations can apply the 5Rs to their waste management practices to assist them in reducing the amount of waste generated. The 5Rs are as follows:

  • Refuse what you do not need (e.g., single use items)
  • Reduce the amount of waste generated (e.g., implement waste sorting and monitoring to identify opportunities for reduction, use products with less packaging)
  • Reuse items as much as possible before discarding as waste
  • Repurpose items that cannot be reused (e.g., restore and maintain items for other uses)
  • Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce and reuse

Reference Source: Zero Waste Educational Guide

Why is Zero Waste important?

Waste management and achieving Zero Waste in organisations has increasingly become a global concern. With the global population increasing and consumption trends changing, waste is threatening human health and the environment. When waste is not managed it usually ends up in landfills and marine areas. Poor waste management contributes to negative impacts on the environment, species, human health and wellbeing in a number of ways. These include methane emissions that contribute to climate change, pollutants that are released into the atmosphere, freshwater sources and soils, and the improper implementation of sewage treatments lead to eutrophication and beach closures. Poor waste management also indirectly impacts the environment. When waste is not recycled or recovered, it represents a loss of inputs and raw materials which could have been used in the organisations supply chain.

Zero Waste practices contributes to the preservation of the environment by reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and incineration. This decreases the amount of methane released as well as the amount of toxic pollutants leaking into the environment. It further protects animal and marine life as there is a reduction of inappropriate waste handling which would otherwise contaminate areas through leaked toxins as well as decrease the risk of animal mortality due to the ingesting of waste materials. Zero Waste practices also leads to improved human health and minimizes the risk of illnesses such as skin irritation and repository problems. Adopting Zero Waste practices leads to lower production costs and can lead to increased profits for organisations. When waste is recycled and reused, there is less need to purchase new materials. Once good waste management practices are implemented such as recycling, efficiencies can be achieved as organisation realise savings in their supply chains by reducing their costs of production. Lastly, good waste management practices ensures organisation are able to meet regulatory requirements around their waste management practices.

Reference Source: Zero Waste Educational Guide

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