Zero Waste

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognizes programs that reduce, reuse, and recycle municipal waste as effective and high-impact methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The fundamental principle of zero waste solutions is that we should safely return everything we produce and consume to nature or society. We need to adopt principles of material conservation, toxic waste reduction, and equitable access to and distribution of resources to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below 1.5°C. Moreover, these solutions, including waste reduction, redesign, composting, biogas, producer responsibility, transformation of consumption habits, community empowerment, and recycling, could be implemented today using existing innovations—with immediate results. Grassroots recyclers and innovative policymakers and practitioners have already demonstrated that zero waste is a viable strategy.

Together, these practical, bottom-up strategies provide some of the best decentralized urban solutions for reducing climate pollution and present enormous opportunities for developing vibrant local economies.

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