michelle Leonard

L.A. Program Supports the County’s Roadmap to a Sustainable Waste Management Future

September 14, 2016

“This program directly supports the county’s Roadmap to a Sustainable Waste Management Future by helping businesses to implement recycling programs,” says Leonard. “And not only recycling but waste reduction, as well, all of which, of course, contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, resource management and sustainable materials management.”

Read the article about L.A. County’s Plan for Sustainable Waste Management

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

How Does a Community get to Zero Waste in the 21st Century?

April 21, 2016

Zero Waste does not mean “zero trash”, but rather a “Zero Waste” of resources.

 

By Michelle Leonard, Solid Waste Planning and Recycling; Sustainability
National Expert

The term describes the desired end-state and a call-to-action rethinking what we regard as trash as potentially valuable resources. The overall goal of zero waste planning is to establish the goal of diverting at least 90 percent of the waste generated by all sources from a landfill.
Zero Waste is to:

  • Reduce our excess consumption.
  • Minimize any unnecessary waste.
  • Encourage recycling to the maximum extent possible.
  • Ensure that the products we use are made to be reused, repaired, or recycled back into nature or back into the marketplace.

Communities across North America have embraced the concept of Zero Waste, some by adopting a Zero Waste goal or policy, and others by completing a Zero Waste Plan. The plan includes implementing zero waste programs and infrastructure in a manner most sustainable for the community. Many communities establish a long-term goal of Zero Waste by setting interim goals to achieve and benchmark measuring progress. Goals may be quantified over years, by percentages, or by environmental factors relevant to your community.

There are several factors critical to sustainable Zero Waste programs.

Phasing in programs encourages acceptance of new policies, programs, and facilities, and the behavior modifications that come with them. Instead of continuing to focus on results at the end of the process, we find ways to fulfill the equation “waste = resource” within our industrial and societal systems. This mindset change helps to lead us to more systems that eliminate wastes to the environment, avoiding systematic deterioration of the environment. These systems are modeled by nature as the most efficient, less costly, and most profitable ways to move toward Zero Waste.

Programs that contribute to Zero Waste include upstream policies and programs. Over 71% of the waste generated happens before products and materials enter our homes, offices, schools and institutions. Upstream policies and programs aim to reduce the volume and toxicity of discarded products and materials and promote low-impact or reduced consumption lifestyles.

Producer Responsibility is an upstream activity, including advocacy at the state level and implementation of local ordinances for hard to handle materials, such as pharmaceuticals, sharps, batteries, CFLs. Local jurisdictions can support state legislation for Extended Producer Responsibility for materials such as carpet paint, etc.
Downstream programs aim to ensure the highest and best use of products and packaging at the end of their useful lives. They establish a hierarchy of:

  • Reusing products and packaging, retaining their original form and function.
  • Recycling materials that are not reduced or reused.
  • Composting materials that are not recycled.

Managing these materials will most likely require a combination of facilities which may include:

  • Material Recovery Facilities
  • Composting Facilities
  • Resource Recovery Parks
  • Construction & Demolition Debris Processing Facilities
  • Alternatives Technologies

The issue of how Waste to Energy fits into a Zero Waste system has been a hotly debated topic at many Zero Waste conferences, workshops, and planning sessions. The Zero Waste International Alliance includes in its definition “no burning or burying”. However, even the most aggressive, advanced Zero Waste system will still have some residual materials, and these materials will need to be managed. Some cities that have adopted Zero Waste plans and/or policies include waste to energy in their strategic plans. These cities recognize that Zero Waste policies and programs will achieve a high diversion rate, but they also acknowledge that a portion of the waste stream residuals will need to be disposed or processed. For these cities, waste to energy, or another alternative technology facility will fill that need, and will further reduce the use of landfill disposal.

Contact Michelle Leonard

Learn more about Sustainable Materials Management

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am