The Town of Erie, in partnership with Eco-Cycle, is working to increase access to recycling and composting, decrease contamination, and reduce the town’s overall waste that goes to the landfill.
What is Zero Waste?
The problem: Currently, our production system goes one way—from the Earth to the dump. We extract natural resources such as trees, precious metals, and petroleum from the earth. We manufacture them—often through polluting, toxic, and wasteful practices—into products. We distribute them to communities, often shipping them long distances. After consumers buy and use these products, we pitch them into a landfill or burn them in an incinerator, both of which destroy the value of those resources. When we need new products, we extract more natural resources like they’re in infinite supply. This is a broken and unrealistic system.
The solution: By contrast, a Zero Waste system is cyclical, as in nature, and does two fundamental things:
- It encourages resource conservation through waste reduction, product redesign, reuse, and repair.
- It captures refuse and uses them by recycling and composting, to make new products and create a cleaner manufacturing process with less pollution. This new system carries with it new businesses and jobs to feed local economies.
The Benefits of Zero Waste
When we choose Zero Waste, the focus isn’t on getting to absolute zero, it’s on designing waste out of our production systems to work more realistically within our one planet’s limits. By doing so, we are conserving energy and water, protecting landscapes and habitat, creating jobs and boosting the economy. Some facts:
- Zero Waste Conserves Resources: Colorado buries over $256 million worth of valuable materials in landfills each year. Zero Waste practices would save these resources for the manufacture of new products, conserving virgin resources.
- Zero Waste Creates Jobs: Recycling creates 10 times more jobs than landfilling; composting creates twice as many jobs as landfilling. Zero waste is a source of sustainable jobs.
- Zero Waste Saves Energy: Instead of using trees, oil, natural gas, and raw minerals to make new products, manufacturers use recycled products — and save 30-90% of the energy they would use to manufacture from new feedstock.
- Zero Waste Curbs Climate Change: More than 40% of our climate impact in the U.S. comes from our stuff and our food — how we make it, haul it, use it and throw it away. It’s called our “consumption emissions.” Recycling and composting are some of the most cost-effective actions we can take to reduce these emissions.
How YOU contribute to a Zero Waste Community
Through Zero Waste actions, we can directly and positively impact the biggest global challenges of our time—climate change, human health risks, ecosystem collapse, and social/political conflicts over access to resources. Click below to learn more about how YOU can contribute to a more sustainable Erie!