Posted on July 24, 2008 @ 06:13:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Considerable innovation is happening in the Waste Management industry. One movement that is gaining momentum is the Zero-waste strategy which was started by Ph.D chemist Paul Palmer in the mid-70's. The idea behind the zero-waste strategy "is to turn the outputs from every resource-use into the input for another use, or in other words outputs become inputs." (Wikipedia, Zero-waste).
To achieve zero-waste requires both govenment policies moving in this direction and manufacturers who design their products with full recycling in mind. Some manufacturers have already achieved C2C (Cradle to Cradle) certification for their products (meaning they are fully recyclable) - Shaw Carpets and office-furniture maker Steelcase are two examples.
An example of government policies moving in this direction is the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina who have explicitly adopted a policy of moving towards zero-waste. What is particularly interesting about their policy is that it is designed to work with an installed base of entrepreneurial garbage-pickers or cartoneros who already pick through resident's garbage looking for materials that can be sold to recyclers and other manufacturers around the world. Every city in the world has garbage-pickers but few view them as performing a useful service that might be extended and encouraged through government zero-waste policies.