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[greenyes] data on municipalities which follow Zero Waste programs.

Thanks for posting your message asking for data on municipalities which
follow Zero Waste programs.

There is no one city that has fully implemented every aspect of a Zero
program, but there are many places which have taken significant steps
towards Zero, especially on the recycling side. GAIA's full Zero Waste
vision includes recycling, but also goes beyond recycling. We will never
solve our "waste problem" only at the back end, so to fully implement Zero
Waste, we need to combine recycling and waste diversion with upstream
approaches to reduce the total volume and toxicity of materials used.

However, here are some resources to learn about places which have
implemented positive steps towards Zero. If others have additional
resources, please post those and we can keep all these on the GAIA website
so it is easier for people to link to them from one place.

Institute for Local Self Reliance, has documented successful
recycling programs in many US cities. They have a bunch of publications
available on their website, such as "Cutting the Waste Stream in Half:
Community Record Setters Show How."

In California, there is a statewide goal to divert 50% of 1990 waste
from landfills and incineration. Some counties have raised the goal to 75%
and San Francisco has adopted a Zero Waste goal. In these places, there
a number of successful programs. San Francisco now has curbside collection
of food waste so city residents separate their organic waste which is all
sent to a huge composting facility. Alamdea county subsidez low cost back
yard composting bins and has sold about 50,000 of them to residents. Even
though it costs them money to subsidize the bins, they recover the costs
decreasing the amount of waste they have to collect (that is the Avoided
Disposal Cost which is often left out of recycling/composting
See and There is a huge amount of
data on the diversion levels reached and costs in California, so this may
the best single source of the info you seek.

Also see the Grassroots Recycling Network,, for great
educational material on Zero Waste, examples of businesses which have
reduced waste significantly and copies of Zero Waste resolutions and
activities mostly in the U.S. but some international.

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute in Massachusetts is also a great
resource. Through the work of this institute and the State's fantastic
Toxics Use Reduction Act there has been a 50% decrease in toxic chemicals
used by industries in Massachusetts. Of course, less toxic chemicals used
means less toxic waste and toxic-contaminated products that enter the
discard stream. See Also see Clean Production Action and the
Lowell Center for Sustainable Production for more ideas on clean
production. and

Health Care Without Harm has done tremendous work in promoting waste
reduction in health care settings, and ensuring safe treatment of
waste without incineration,

Other resources:

Zero Waste New Zealand Trust:

"Creating Wealth from Waste" by Robin Murray, Demos publishing, UK

Also, later this month GAIA members around the world will release a report
which looks at the costs of intensive recycling and composting versus
incineration focusing on cases in less-industrialized countries.

For California, the general website address is for
information on all aspects of the California programs. We worked with the Institute
for Local Self-Reliance and others on 24 case studies of model local government
waste diversion programs in the year 2000. Those case studies can be found

It's particularly important for local governments to get involved in the
upstream side of advocating for extended producer responsibility (EPR), and
designing wastes out of the system. GRRN has some great producer responsibility
campaigns on their website at: As a first
step, local governments could endorse the Extended Producer Responsibility
Principles developed by the EPR Working Group at Next, local governments could adopt resolutions on:
a.. Beyond Recycling: Zero Waste... Or Darn Close
b.. The Electronics Junkpile: Environmental Hazard, Unfunded Mandate
c.. Not an Ounce of Responsibility: Coke, Pepsi and Plastic Bottle Waste
d.. Burying Organics Stinks: The Compost Solution
e.. Build Community Assets by Eliminating Waste
Sample resolutions are all found at:

In addition, one of the best websites on EPR is Clean Production Action at:

To design wastes out of the system, one of the best tools to engage people
is organizing Zero Waste at special events (like conferences or community
festivals). As an example, Zero Waste was the goal at the Salt Lake Olympics.
See info on their successes at:

I hope this is helpful.
Ann Leonard /Gary Liss

San Diego, California

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