The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that for every one barrel of residential trash, 71 more were created before the products that produced that waste reached consumer households.
What’s more, a new report from the EPA shows that ordinary consumer products and packaging account for 44% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Can you imagine how much waste and GHG emissions could be eliminated from the production-consumption cycle if products could be re-designed to use less material, be longer life, repairable, reusable, and safer?
The GrassRoots Recycling Network is an organization of activists and recycling professionals who deep-dive into questions like that every day.
The group, which is advocating and working towards a zero waste future in the United States, will be hosting its Third National Recycling and Zero Waste Conference, beginning this coming Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Devens Commons Center in Devens, Massachusetts.
The four-day event will run through Wednesday, Oct. 21, and is expected to attract over 400 recycling activists and professionals from around the U.S. The comprehensive agenda includes 20 separate programs and 60 speakers.
“This conference will energize the recycling and environmental community and help environmental professionals and activists implement new ideas and practices that will create jobs while at the same time reducing waste and conserving natural resources,” said Linda Christopher, GRRN’s executive director. “Zero waste programs build sustainable communities by reducing the waste that produces greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals which are so harmful to our environment and account for major climate change impacts.”
Traditional thinking assumes waste is inevitable, that the quantity of waste will keep growing, and that costly, high-tech, polluting methods like landfills and incinerators are the only choices available.
Zero waste advocates think otherwise. They focus not only on recycling, but on another critical component –redesign –as well.
Zero waste is a concept that has taken off in California and other countries where several communities are on track to reach a goal of 90 percent waste reduction, Christopher said. It is relatively unfamiliar in New England, though many communities are in a position to implement zero waste principles, she added.
“We have identified Massachusetts and New England as a prime region to advance zero waste programs and goals and to create zero waste communities,” added Christopher. “The conference will highlight businesses that have saved money, increased their efficiency, reduced their liability, and reduced their global footprint by diverting their waste from landfills and incinerators.”
GrassRoots Recycling Network’s National Recycling and Zero Waste Conference is being held at the Devens Conference Center in Devens, Massachusetts. Devens is a decommissioned U.S. Army base re-purposed as an eco-industrial park that has a zero waste goal. All organic waste generated by the conference will be composted and other waste will be separated and recycled.
You can read more about the GrassRoots Recycling Network at their website, www.GRRN.org . The site includes full conference details and registration information.
Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/8078800@N07/634853323/