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Zero Waste – a Key Solution for a Low-Carbon Economy

Zero waste-a key solution for a low-carbon economy

Waste management has important climate impacts. Although waste is not always regarded as a key frontier issue for climate change mitigation, it actually provides a particularly cost-effective and ready-to-implement solution approach that can be supported by different supporters, otherwise these supporters may not Engage in climate-related work. The impact of these solutions on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cannot be ignored, especially from a life cycle perspective. As climate change economist Nicholas Stern pointed out, “Recycling has made a significant contribution to reducing emissions. In fact, its scale is so small that it might be described One of the "best kept secrets" in the field of energy and climate change..."[1]

Zero waste solutions — including waste reduction, redesign, composting, biogas, expanded producer responsibility, consumption transformation, and recycling — can be implemented today, using existing innovations and achieving immediate results.

The 7 main achievements of the low-carbon economy and zero-waste solution:

1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in every household. The plan to reduce, reuse and recycle municipal waste is an effective and high-impact means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [2] When waste materials are recycled, they provide industry with an alternative source of raw materials to make new products. This has led to a reduction in the demand for raw materials, the extraction, transportation and processing of these materials are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, zero-waste solutions can reduce emissions from almost all extractive industries: mining, forestry, agriculture, and oil extraction.

2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from production lines. Additional energy and related emissions are saved during the manufacturing process, because recycled materials usually require less energy to be converted into products. [3] Although "waste-to-energy" incinerators can capture some of the energy contained in the materials they burn, recycling the same materials can save three to five times the energy. [4] This is particularly noteworthy

In products such as aluminum, direct energy use is 88% less than the energy required to produce primary aluminum. [5]

Most importantly, it helps the soil to recover and help improve its ability as a carbon sink. Studies have shown that if compost is applied to only 5% of California's pastures, the soil can capture the annual greenhouse gas emissions of California's agriculture and forestry industries. This effect is cumulative, which means that even if the compost is applied only once, the soil will continue to absorb carbon dioxide, because the compost decomposes to provide slow-release fertilizer to the soil, resulting in increased carbon sequestration and increased plant yield. [6]

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O); landfills and garbage dumps are the main sources of methane (CH4) and CO2. [7 In fact, incinerators produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of electricity than coal-fired power plants. [8] On average, garbage incinerators in the United States directly emit 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide per MWh and 2.8 tons of nitrous oxide per MWh—both greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. [9] Burning waste also promotes the climate change cycle of new resources, that is, they are extracted from the earth, processed in factories, shipped to all parts of the world, and then used as fuel in incinerators, landfills, and combustion plants (such as cement Kiln).

[1] Stern, Nicholas, a blueprint for a safer planet. Bodley Hyde, 2009.

[2] US Environmental Protection Agency, Solid Waste Management and Greenhouse Gases: Life Cycle Assessment of Emissions and Sinks, 3rd edition. year 2006.

[3] Same as above.

[4] Morris, "Comparing LCA for roadside recycling, with landfill or incineration with energy recovery." International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. (2005); 13(3) 226-234.

[5] Schlesinger, aluminum recycling. CRC Press, 2006.

[6] For the latest bibliography of this work, see

[7] IPCC, AR4, Working Group 3, Chapter 10.

[8] US Environmental Protection Agency,


[10] Skumats, "What is the biggest explosion? In August 2008, the California Resource Recovery Association compared the carbon footprint impact and cost of the diversion plan and the energy plan.

[11] Stern, Nicholas, a blueprint for a safer planet. Bodley Hyde, 2009.

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