Non-profit waste solutions organization Zero Waste Canada (ZWC) has now launched to promote strategies that could replace landfills and waste-to-energy facilities.
ZWC formed when academics, recycling businesses and community advocates from across Canada came together to advance waste solutions that provide local jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, protect the environment and human health and conserve resources.
ZWC is the first national organization in Canada fully dedicated to promoting a zero waste model in accordance with the Zero Waste International Alliance.
“Wood, metals, chemicals, minerals, organics, aggregates and other resources are valuable and should ever be burned or buried,” says Erich Schwartz, President of Greenomics and British Columbia-based ZWC director in a statement to media. “It just doesn’t make sense. In a world of finite resources and diminishing renewable resources, we need to reduce what we take while continuously reusing and recycling the resources that we do use.”
Achieving zero waste is about much more than just recycling, ZWC says. Zero waste adheres to a hierarchy of highest and best use that aims to first prevent and reduce waste at the source by encouraging manufacturers to redesign products to be reusable, repairable and durable.
“Once we establish that waste prevention is the ultimate sustainable goal, we can look seriously at what’s being discarded and develop strategies with the help of manufacturers, scientists and our communities to create a waste-free Canada,” says Schwartz.
Candice Anderson, a Toronto-based ZWC director, notes that according to a January 13, 2013 Conference Board of Canada report, Canada generates 34 million tonnes of waste per year or 777 kgs per person, well above the average of 17 industrialized countries with only Australia and the U.S. generating more waste per capita.
Canada’s low diversion rate compounds the problem, Anderson says.
“All of those resources going to waste is a tragedy and what’s more, Canada’s municipal taxpayers are digging pretty deep into their pockets to dispose of all this unnecessary waste,” says Anderson. “We need to look at how zero waste leaders from around the world have managed to achieve diversion rates of 80 per cent and higher and then we need to start implementing those solutions here in Canada.”