Zero Waste: Not Just a Pipedream

Zero Waste is a developing philosophy that encourages the reuse or redesign of all products and waste. With ideals of absolutely minimal rubbish sent to landfill, the process is inspired by the way natural resources are reused in the environment. Chadwicks Recycling MD Sean Chadwick discusses...


As strong advocators of a zero waste society, Chadwicks were encouraged by the recent report put forward to the EU Commission Public Consultation from the group Zero Waste England – and will be supporting the proposal in every way possible.

The report focuses on several different areas of recycling, including issues relating to household and community waste, and whilst ambitious, I believe their goals a fully-achievable. The not-for-profit, open source think tank claim that by the year 2020, a level of 70% recycling is “feasible” and that by 2030, 80% should be “binding”. These levels are already being achieved in many different areas across the UK, and the idea of introducing a compulsory level of 80% is exactly the type of initiative the nation should be aspiring to.

The group also welcomes the prohibition of using landfill sites, or the incineration of recycling materials wherever feasible. Where not, they’re backing taxation of these services, in order to encourage less frequent use – something Chadwicks also support. Although it must be accepted that small instances of landfill will continue, these disposal methods are highly undesirable, and if we are successful in functioning as a zero waste society, we must do our best to discontinue the use of these services. The group have also proposed a ban of the building of any new incinerator sites, in order to help tackle the problem of overuse.

Alternatives include the use of waste recycling specialists, however the problem is one that is best tackled at the source – in the home, the community and commercially. This starts with better education, both in school and for the general public, on how to recycle efficiently and with ease. It can be encouraged commercially through incentives for businesses and even on a much smaller level; through the proper provision of recycling facilities and appropriate staff training.

Zero Waste is campaigning for ‘substantial Commission support’ in these areas, including investment in both education and publicity regarding waste. The group also wants to actively encourage community level waste management – a practice which can be executed in many different ways. For example days such as Earth Day, a celebration of environmentally friendly behaviour, aiming to raise awareness and encourage good, green practice. These types of scheme can be effective both in the community and commercially, where an entire workforce is willing to get on board.

The goals outlined by Zero Waste are certainly achievable – and commendable. If a practical, cost-effective plan can be outlined, and the general public made aware, national support for waste recycling is generally very high. In recent years, I’ve noticed public attitude towards recycling improvingly dramatically – communities and businesses alike now actively become involved and are willing and more responsible in their waste management. Levels of 70% recycling by 2020 should not be looked upon as unattainable, but rather a realistic and motivating goal, which can be achieved by the UK as a whole. Zero waste is not just a pipe dream, it’s in the pipeline.

Sean Chadwick

Adam Robertshaw

Topics: edie
Tags: | consultation | education | incineration | Reuse | training | waste management | zero waste
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