This document outlines the principles and some of the practical steps being taken around the world in both large urban communities and small rural communities in the pursuit of Zero Waste. Zero Waste programs are the fastest and most cost effective ways that local governments can contribute to reducing climate change, protect health, create green jobs, and promote local sustainability.
There are three overarching goals needed for sustainable resource management.
- Producer responsibility at the front end of the problem: industrial production and design.
- Community responsibility at the back end of the problem: consumption, discard use and disposal.
- Political responsibility to bring both community and industrial responsibility together in a harmonious whole.
Zero Waste is a critical stepping-stone to other necessary steps in the efforts to protect health, improve equity and reach sustainability. Zero Waste can be linked to sustainable agriculture, architecture, energy, industrial, economic and community development. Every single person in the world makes waste and as such is part of a non-sustainable society. However, with good political leadership, everyone could be engaged in the necessary shift towards a sustainable society.
Good political leadership in this matter involves treating citizens as key allies to protect human health and the environment and in making the transition to a sustainable future. Governments need to “govern” rather than attempt to “manage” this change to sustainable resource conservation practices. This includes a significant investment in public outreach and education so that citizens can help communities make the most informed choices.