Building Zero Waste Communities

Overview of Eco-Cycle’s work to build a model Zero Waste community in Boulder, CO. Includes innovative infrastructure like MRF and Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM), community engagement programs for eco-leaders on plastics and carbon farming, policy models in Boulder, and new narrative around climate impact of recycling and transition to a circular city.

Consumption, Climate, Zero Waste, and The Green New Deal

Solutions to climate change are usually limited to alternative energy, alternative transportation, energy conservation, and related topics. This is based on an assumed contribution of carbon to the atmosphere by electrical generation, buildings, and transportation sectors. But in 2009 USEPA presented a paper at a zero waste conference in Devens, MA, showing an alternative view of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. In this systems view, EPA showed that materials management, specifically, production, transportation and use of consumer goods, packaging and food accounted for about half of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Looked at this way, it becomes clear to professionals in the fields of waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting, that these methods, aka Zero Waste solutions, together are a long-neglected but productive way to combat climate change. And yet, this information, this EPA pie chart, is not known by those who have been devising Green New Deals or other programs to combat climate change. The purpose of this paper is to draw the connections between consumption, climate change, zero waste and the Green New Deals that are being discussed across the US so that those who are developing and voting on them will be doing so with this critical information about carbon sources and solutions.