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New ‘Zero Waste Hierarchy’ Is For Everyone

Zero Waste International Alliance Adopts Zero Waste Hierarchy

The ZERO WASTE INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE (ZWIA) adopts comprehensive Zero Waste Hierarchy.

The Zero Waste Hierarchy describes a progression of policies and strategies to support the Zero Waste system, from highest and best to lowest use of materials. It is designed to be applicable to all audiences, from policy makers to industry and the individual. It aims to provide greater depth for internationally- recognized 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle); to encourage policy, activity and investment at the top of the hierarchy, and to provide guide for those who develop systems or products that move us closer to Zero Waste. It enhances the Zero Waste definition by providing guidance for planning and a way to evaluate proposed solutions.

The Zero Waste Hierarchy 5.0 was adopted by the International Zero Waste Alliance in March 2013, and Zero Waste Canada with an international team of Zero Waste experts drafted the current version 6.0 which was adopted by both ZWIA and Zero Waste Canada in December 2014.

Richard Anthony, president of ZWIA said, “The Zero Waste Hierarchy is a higher standard than the Pollution Prevention Hierarchy because it looks at the entire carbon life cycle of materials, as well as the embodied energy used to extract virgin resources, manufacture a product, and transport a product to market. This Zero Waste Hierarchy prioritizes resource management activities that will move communities into a Zero Waste Circular Economy.”

Gary Liss, ZWIA Certification Chair said, “This is an environmental hierarchy for highest and best use of materials and pollution prevention in all phases of production, use, and deposition of products and materials. This hierarchy is derived from the core Zero Waste principle of preventing, rather than managing waste and pollution. It recommits to the priority ordering of the waste reduction hierarchy: first reduce consumption; next; reuse products by maintaining their form and function; and finally recycle anything that is no longer usable and landfill any residual. Prior to landfilling, materials should be analyzed and researched to determine what products and packaging should be redesigned in future. The Zero Waste Hierarchy says avoid all high temperature systems, such as Mass Burn, Fluidized bed, gasification, Plasma Arc and Pyrolysis.”

Jamie Kaminski, Zero Waste Canada director, said, “ All over the world, in some form or another, a Pollution Prevention Hierarchy is incorporated into recycling regulations, solid waste management plans, and resource conservation programs. This Pollution Prevention Hierarchy has been incorporated into all recycling regulations within Canada and is embedded within all resource conservation methods which all governments ‘ mandated waste prevention programs follow. While including the 4th R (recovery) prior to disposal, many organizations focused on the 4th R instead of the top of the hierarchy resulting in costly systems designed to destroy materials instead of systems designed to reduce environmental impact and waste. The Zero Waste Hierarchy formalizes, organizes, and clearly presents how Zero Waste is fundamentally a different approach to waste reduction than recycling programs in the last fifteen years. Zero Waste tackles the root causes of wasting and broadens responsibility for solutions to include governments, producers and consumers.”

Zero Waste International Alliance encourages all communities and organizations with a Zero Waste Goal to use the Zero Waste Hierarchy as a guide to developing Zero Waste solutions for our planet.

Zero Waste Hierarchy 6.0