As many of you know, the proximate source of inspiration that launched the worldwide movement for zero waste in 1996 was the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government in Canberra, Australia. Earlier efforts in the same direction had primarily focused on total recycling, of which I was and still am a champion.
Now those of you who are celebrating further successes in what I recently called "zero waste goalism" would do well to understand and acknowledge that zero waste goals mean less than nothing when there is no will to make real zero waste happen. The proof is, once again, Canberra Australia, which in mid-2007 opened its new $11 million landfill cell after using up the entire hillside landfill site (supposed to be its last) that it called the Mugga Lane landfill. Further proof: ACT NoWaste's attacks on Revolve, the nonprofit landfill scavenger business that really invented the Australian concept of zero waste; ACT's refusal to build the Zero Waste Resource Recovery Park on land set aside in 1996 or 1997 for the purpose with money made from their profits on wasting; ACT's attempts to restrict competition for the discard supply so that more waste, not less, goes into landfill; and ACT's tardy removal of "no waste by 2010" from ACT NoWaste's publicity materials, trucks, and logos. Until they removed the date in 2006 and 2007, the zero waste goal functioned in Canberra as a cloak to hide their waste-friendly actions. Now they've finally owned up to their betrayal of the public's trust.
So beware! I presented a ten-minute powerpoint on Canberra relying on my site visit to Canberra in April of 2007 as well as on photos and correspondence from Gerry Gillespie and Carolyn Brooks at the annual Recycling Update conference in Oakland, CA sponsored by the Northern California Recycling Association. It was immediately labeled a "cautionary tale" by Tom Padia of StopWaste.org and others in the audience of 170 recycling professionals.
Zero Waste has also been commandeered as a brand by the Product Policy Institute, among others, and they and others have tried to make zero waste into a synonym for Extended Producer Responsibility. This is no less false and misleading than Canberra's brand of sophistry, in my opinion, because it dismisses honest hardworking recyclers dealing everyday with the gazillions of tons of discarded materials flowing from the built environment to landfill and transfer stations that have already been manufactured and therefore can never be affected by EPR.
I see EPR as an important part of source reduction (the "reduce" part of "reduce, reuse, recycle" imperative), but only a part. When you look closely at what EPR-istas concentrate on, it is mostly low-tonnage but important stuff like household toxics, pharmaceuticals, and the like. All well and good, and more power to them, but let's not forget other potent source reduction tools like ULS (Use Less Stuff), the focus of Annie Leonard's popular new video.
And let's support total recycling in source-separation-based 12 category resource recovery parks and celebrate them when, against long odds, they somehow or other get built and occupied by real recyclers producing quality feedstocks.
The other two legs of the 3R tripod should not be subject to insults like "so twentieth century" and "so end-of-pipe", but they are thanks to EPR zealots.
Dan Knapp, CEO
Urban Ore, Inc., a reuse and recycling business in Berkeley, California since 1980
On Apr 11, 2008, at 11:25 AM, Gary Liss wrote:
Apologies for Cross-postings & please forward to colleagues who may be interested
The 3rd Citywide Conference for the Los Angeles Zero Waste Plan is Here!
Please join us for the 3rd Citywide Conference for the Zero waste Plan. This will be the final conference for Phase 1 of the project and will be a celebration of all of the hard work and input provided by you, the stakeholders, for the Zero Waste Plan thus far! The conference will be on May 3, 2008 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels conference center from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. The Cathedral is located at 555 W. Temple Street in downtown Los Angeles.. All conference attendees will receive complimentary parking.
Don't forget! We will also be having a Zero Waste Film Festival from 7:30-8:30 am along with a complimentary continental breakfast. A complimentary lunch will be served later in the day.
This is the chance for you to sign off on the Guiding Principles for the plan, join your fellow stakeholders in celebration for the first year being completed and for you to share your SWIRP story with others.
Want more information? Please contact Rebecca Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org . Tell your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors about this special event and RSVP with Vikki Zale via email at email@example.com or via phone at (310) 822-2010.