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[GreenYes] GRRN Supports CIWMB Zero Waste Goal
Linda Moulton Patterson, Chair
California Integrated Waste Management Board
1001 "I" Street
PO Box 4025
Sacramento, CA  95812-4025

Dear Chair Moulton Patterson, and CIWMB 
Boardmembers:

The GrassRoots Recycling Network supports 
the California Integrated Waste Management 
Board's visionary goals outlined in the 2001 
Strategic Plan, especially the zero waste 
goal.    

The GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) is 
a North American network of recycling and 
community-based activists who advocate 
policies and practices to achieve zero 
waste, to end corporate welfare for waste, 
and to create sustainable jobs from 
discards.  GRRN was founded in 1995 by 
members of the Sierra Club Solid Waste 
Committee, the California Resource Recovery 
Association, and the Institute for Local 
Self-Reliance. 

We strongly support your efforts to include 
environmental justice, environmentally 
preferable procurement, and other elements; 
however, I will focus my comments on the 
zero waste goal because that is the umbrella 
that encompasses the rest.

I have seen the comments posted by certain 
industry representatives on the California 
Chamber of Commerce website.  I would like 
to address a fundamental misconception, 
namely that zero waste implies "recycling 
100 percent of the state's solid waste 
stream," and therefore "ignores the law of 
diminishing returns."

The zero waste goal specifically 
acknowledges the need to go beyond recycling 
and beyond dealing with waste at the 'back 
end.'  Instead of managing waste, the zero 
waste paradigm emphasizes managing resources 
and eliminating waste at the design stage.

Most of the challenge in working towards 
zero waste lies at the 'front end.'  To 
achieve sustainability, all products and 
packaging must be designed to either be 
returned to nature (like compost) or to 
returned to the economy.  The latter implies 
design for reuse, repair, disassembly and 
recycling.  Tax disincentives and lack of 
brand-owner responsibility are two key 
barriers to zero waste. 

This is not to say there is little to be 
done at the community level.  Zero waste is 
definitely in the community interest, and 
developing model zero waste communities is 
the next big challenge.  Local government, 
which has primary responsibility for wasted 
resources, is needed not so much to do the 
heavy lifting, but to change the rules so 
that resource conservation out-competes 
resource wasting every time.

It is ironic that the industry taking the 
lead opposing the inclusion of zero waste 
goals is the plastics industry.  Although 
plastics bring many benefits, the industry 
has an overall wasting rate of 95 percent; 
uses a non-renewable resource, and has
significant toxics issues in production and 
waste disposal.  If any industry needs 
encouragement to design for sustainability 
it would seem to be plastics.

California has long been a leader in 
resource conservation and recycling.  It is 
only fitting that California now take a lead 
role in developing a zero waste goal and 
program.  GRRN applauds your visionary 
efforts.

Sincerely,

/Bill Sheehan, Ph.D.
Executive Director


*********************************
Bill Sheehan
Executive Director
GrassRoots Recycling Network
P.O. Box 49283
Athens, GA  30604-9283
Tel: 706-613-7121  Fax: -7123
Email:  zerowaste@grrn.org
Web:  http://www.grrn.org
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