In nature, waste for one process is food for another. Each organism in a forest plays a unique role in repetitively cycling nutrients, water, and energy throughout the system. A dead tree may provide shelter for an owl, fertilizer for mushrooms, or food for termites. Like a masterpiece symphony, each organism plays a unique and necessary role. This approach, however, has not been widely adopted by most companies in the developed world.
The Industrial Revolution ushered in a period of unprecedented waste. The thoughts and practices that allowed this are becoming a thing of the past. From college campuses to manufacturing facilities, some organizations with the highest sustainability objectives aim to create no waste at all-and this phenomenon is becoming an increasing reality. In fact, in a world with finite resources, achieving a state of zero-waste may eventually become an imperative.
A zero-waste initiative energizes organizations around continuous improvement, by constantly seeking greater value from byproducts and utilizing the most innovative technologies. Achieving zero-waste involves eliminating all the non-product outputs, byproducts that don't have a marketable value. Zero-waste targets are one of the highest sustainability goals an organization can set -it entails eliminating or reusing all non-product outputs. This target requires a cultural shift, seeing waste as a missed opportunity, as opposed to an inevitable consequence of regular business operations.
The distinction between zero-waste and zero-landfill
Unlike a zero-landfill goal, which has a concrete, tangible end-state, a zero-waste initiative requires constantly pushing the envelope. A zero-landfill initiative may consider recycling a satisfactory solution for non-product outputs and stop there without exploring options that are higher on the waste solutions hierarchy. The zero-waste target however entails going beyond zero-landfill goals to reuse or ideally eliminate all non-product outputs. Having internal momentum within your organization to constantly push this initiative forward is invaluable.
Regardless of your industry, we can help transform your waste into resources. Contact your Waste Management representative today or call the Green Squad at (800) 963-4776 to find out how we can help you meet your financial and sustainability objectives.