The pioneers of the zero waste movement were very clear in the mid-90s that “zero waste to landfill” was not the same thing as zero waste. We purposefully aimed high with our definition of zero waste being focused on making the best choices with our natural resources — from extraction to production to consumption to disposal. The zero waste journey involves a constant evaluation about our materials’ choices and a strong commitment to eliminating waste, not just treating it.
There are many communities and businesses making great strides toward zero waste, like General Motors with their 97 percent landfill diversion rates at over 90 manufacturing facilities. But there others that are pursuing “zero-waste-to-landfill”, which is a laudable goal, but then they incinerate large amounts of their waste in an attempt to avoid the landfill. In the opinion of the zero waste International Alliance (ZWIA), that constitutes greenwashing and a misuse of the term zero waste.