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Communities and Climate Change: how a zero waste approach can take us closer to zero emissions

Community and climate change: how the zero waste approach can bring us closer to zero emissions

In 2015, world leaders signed the "Paris Agreement." A series of ambitious commitments aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, thereby protecting our communities, wildlife, oceans and natural ecosystems from the destructive effects of climate change.

Nearly five years have passed, and progress has been slow and ineffective. Earlier this year, PACE released their second circular gap report, which emphasized that only 9% of the world is circular, and current trends indicate that this number is deteriorating. In the past, resource extraction and greenhouse gas (GhG) Emissions have been increasing for two years.

Zero waste is the actual transformation of circular economy.

Zero waste communities are living examples of circular economy, its feasibility and its environmental, economic and professional benefits.

Karmenu Vella, former EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime and Fisheries

The 2019 cycle gap report pointed out that although the global cycle rate is only 9%, in Europe, our economy is only slightly better than 12%, which shows that we are facing huge challenges. But this also represents a huge opportunity. 88% of our economy needs to be transformed into a resource-efficient system.

The Zero Waste International Alliance defines zero waste as “the protection of all resources through the responsible production, consumption, reuse and recycling of products, packaging and materials, without burning, nor discharging substances that threaten the environment to land, water or air. Environment Or human health."

The concept of zero waste embodies and embodies the full significance of circular economy. Zero waste not only provides an effective framework for the implementation of circular economy policies at the local level, but also creates opportunities to bring many social, economic and environmental benefits to the community. Although zero waste certainly helps to reduce our environmental impact, it also provides municipalities with opportunities to reduce expenditures and ultimately reduce the waste that needs to be managed, so that the extra savings can be used to reinvest in other public services or Reduce taxes for citizens. Since the circular economy centers on local businesses, schools, and residents, the local zero-waste approach can also help create jobs in the community and enhance social cohesion.

Where zero waste helps reduce emissions

As highlighted in the Cycle Gap report, at many different critical moments, zero-waste methods can reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the board, thereby reducing emissions that are the biggest driver of global climate change. As highlighted in the report, these key moments include:

To-The stage of extracting natural resources from the earth, such as when extracting oil or natural gas, producing and manufacturing agricultural crops, or purchasing timber for construction or mining. Process-Once extracted and purchased, these raw materials are usually processed industrially so that they can be successfully converted into modern commodities, such as the production of metals from ore, the production of plastics from petroleum, and the production of cement from limestone. Production-Once these materials are refined and processed, they can be clearly used to produce, manufacture and assemble the daily necessities we use in modern society, from large-scale road and house construction to the production of fashionable clothing and food packaging. Provide-in turn, these finished products can be used to provide services and products that meet the needs of modern society, such as communications services, retail, transportation, and more needs in the world we live in today. End of use-a zero-waste approach ensures that products and materials continue to maintain their value and have functional uses in the circular economy. If products and materials cannot be reused, repaired or recycled, they will diffuse into the environment as non-recyclable waste or increase greenhouse gas emissions, which will have a negative impact on our efforts to address and mitigate climate change. According to the report, only 8.4 billion tons, or 9.1% of the total materials we use in the EU, are recycled, and the rest is incinerated, landfilled or dispersed into the environment.

For cities and municipalities that want to reduce their impact on the environment and climate through the transition to a more circular economy, the zero-waste system contains several key principles that can serve as the basis for local-level climate change mitigation plans:

Redesign the business model

By changing the way we consume and produce goods, we can immediately reduce the amount of resources we use and therefore need to extract. One approach is to redesign the business model to ensure that products have a longer service life and maintain the comfort of high-value materials for a longer period of time. As each product is given higher value and is designed to remain within the economic range, greenhouse gas emissions in the "acquisition", "processing" and "production" steps of the above-mentioned product value chain will be eliminated or significantly reduced . According to the Cycle Gap Report, these strategies together account for nearly 25% of European industrial cycle mitigation potential.

Rethink the need for materials

A zero-waste approach can help reduce emissions and mitigate climate change by primarily reducing the need for materials. By adopting this approach, municipalities need to rethink how the local economy operates. By redesigning our relationship with resources, rethinking our production and consumption methods, and encouraging communities to move towards collective decision-making, zero waste is the source of the problem. Therefore, as part of this process, decision makers should also consider using only recycled and low-carbon materials. By not only reducing the demand for materials, but also by creating a system to phase out any technology that does not allow material recycling and only uses low-carbon and sustainable resources, the zero-waste approach can transition to the circular low-carbon economy that we need in the future.

Reduce material usageIn Europe, more attention must be paid to reducing the quantity, toxicity and ecological footprint of each product. In a circular economy, by adopting a zero-waste approach, this can be achieved by reducing consumption by citizens, and by encouraging and legally requiring companies, manufacturers and products to redesign products to ensure that they have the least packaging and are composed of the least. The amount of toxic or non-recyclable materials, and requires as little energy and natural resources as possible to produce. This requires a huge change in society’s attitude towards consumerism and product design. However, about 62% of global greenhouse gases are emitted during the acquisition, processing, and production stages. Therefore, priority must be given to the basis of these zero-waste and circular economy strategies, and Adopted in the next few years.

Recycling to preserve the value of waste

It must be emphasized that we cannot recycle from current problems. However, high-quality material recycling through the recycling of separately collected waste streams can play a direct and critical role in reducing current greenhouse gas emissions in our waste problem. If the value of materials can be recovered and fed back to the processing stage of the product value chain without having to repeatedly extract and produce materials, it can immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact during the product life cycle.

in conclusion

In order to achieve the 1.5°C world outlined in the Paris Agreement, a circular economy strategy needs to be adopted immediately, the core of which is a commitment to zero waste. Zero waste, circular economy and low-carbon agenda are mutually reinforcing, especially when implemented at the local municipal level.

By redesigning the business model and our consumption and production model, Zero Waste aims to protect the value and energy contained in resources and materials, while helping the community to prosper. By adopting a zero-waste approach and thereby improving our resource efficiency, we immediately created an economical and environmentally friendly system. By keeping the value of materials and products in the community, improving energy efficiency and subsequently reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the climate of our planet. The driving force of the collapse.

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