Now more than ever, we are putting an emphasis on reducing our use and consumption of plastic, whether its ditching plastic straws or taking our own bags to the supermarket. However, the reality is that we are still loading 12 million tonnes into our oceans every year! Now that the public is taking more of an interest in where their rubbish ends up and how it gets there, we are also interested in how to fix the problem and prevent it from happening in the first place.
How we tackle waste as a planet is one of the biggest problems mankind face. But imagine if we could reuse nearly all of the waste that we produce, consolidating our none recyclable waste significantly. Could the zero-waste plan be the answer?
So, what is Zero Waste? “Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. Planning the approach to waste disposal with an emphasis on waste prevention as opposed to end-of- pipe waste management. It’s a turnkey approach that strives for a massive change in the way materials go through society, resulting in no waste. Its more than eliminating waste through recycling and reuse, it focuses on restructuring production and distribution systems to reduce waste.”
The residents of Kamikatsu, a small town in Japan, approached the issue of waste disposal after realising how damaging it was to incinerate their rubbish. There was a major impact on health and wellbeing with the town also having an alarming rate of cancer and respiratory symptoms. With the effect on the environment in the form of global warming, acidification, smog formation, eutrophication, and animal toxicity, it was this realisation which started their transition into a zero-waste lifestyle.
The Scottish government also saw it’s worth and started rolling out a zero-waste plan across multiple towns in order to see waste as a valuable resource not to be disposed of in landfills or incinerators.
Beyond countries like Japan and Scotland, cities around the world are actively looking to reduce their waste output. In 2015, San Diego announced its plan to reduce trash disposal by 75% by 2030 and become completely waste-free by 2040. New York City has similarly ambitious plans, hoping to reach the same goal in the next 15 years.
We at 3fD are closely monitoring how the zero-waste mission pans out across cities in the UK and elsewhere. After all, as designers we would love to be able to prevent conditions allowing the problem to arise in the first place rather than simply treating the symptoms of the issue.