Zero Waste Hierarchy - old version 2013

Zero Waste International Alliance adopts Zero Waste Hierarchy

The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) adopted the first ever Zero Waste Hierarchy of Highest and Best Uses at its Board of Directors meeting on March 20, 2013 as part of Zero Waste Week in Berkeley, CA.  Richard Anthony, President of ZWIA said, “The Zero Waste Hierarchy is a higher standard than the Pollution Prevention Hierarchy because it looks at the entire carbon life cycle of materials, as well as the embodied energy used to extract virgin resources, manufacture a product, and transport a product to market. Our National Affiliate in Canada for the ZWIA Zero Waste Business Program, Zero Waste Canada, was particularly concerned about how the Pollution Prevention Hierarchy is being used to promote incineration over landfilling. This Zero Waste Hierarchy prioritizes resource management activities that will move communities into a Zero Waste Circular Economy.”

Gary Liss, ZWIA Certification Chair said, “This Zero Waste Hierarchy starts with the premise of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, then highlights that recovering energy is only acceptable using systems that operate at biological temperature and pressure, such as sustainable biodiesel from used vegetable oils or biologically or chemically producing ethanol from urban wood, biosolids, manures or food scraps.  The Zero Waste Hierarchy says that landfilling is the last step, and only if discarded materials are sorted at the landfill to get out all remaining recyclables and toxics, then biologically stabilized before burial.  Prior to landfilling, materials should be analyzed and researched to determine what products and packaging should be redesigned in the future.  The Zero Waste Hierarchy says don’t burn mixed solid waste, tires, wood from mixed construction and demolition debris, or biosolids, as high temperature systems volatilize heavy metals and produce dioxins and furans.  The Zero Waste Hierarchy says avoid all high temperature systems, such as Mass Burn, Fluidized Bed, Gasification, Plasma Arc, and Pyrolysis. The Zero Waste Hierarchy also says don’t support bioreactor landfills, don’t give recycling credit for Alternative Daily Cover (ADC) or ‘beneficial use’ of processing residues to build landfills, and don’t allow recycling toxic or radioactive wastes into consumer products or building materials.”

Prepared by Gary Liss (website), with input from International Dialog in Berkeley, CA and adopted by ZWIA Board on March 20, 2013.

Originally based on Environmental Hierarchy of Waste Management & Energy Production Methods / Fuels / TechnologiesEnergy Justice NetworkMike Ewall.For more information please contact Richard Anthony, 858-272-2905 or Gary Liss, 916-652-7850