“If a product can’t be reused, repaired, recycled, composted or redesigned, then industry shouldn’t be producing it”
– Paul Connett, one of the founders of the zero waste movement
Keep It Clean Roadmap
We need a systemic shift in our approach to resources – drastically reducing the amount of waste created, and preserving all resources at their highest quality by reusing what we can, and recycling or composting everything else.
We also need a collective consensus on creating a healthy waste-free environment for all.
We must shift our perspectives, and treat all waste as a precious resource – just like nature does. It’s only waste when it’s wasted.
This will require a collective effort from all levels of society – revising our policies, planning, supply and packaging of goods, decision-making, and business models, while simultaneously transforming public attitudes and behaviours across all generations.
Governments (local & national)
- Plan and measure
Make or renew your waste management (WM) strategy, and set goals, priorities, and deadlines. For example a National WM Act, National WM Plan, or local WM programme.
– Prioritise waste reduction. Set targets for the amount of waste produced, ban unnecessary items like many single-use plastics, redesign products to be durable, repairable, and reusable.
– Outline how to better manage any waste that is produced, i.e. by making separate collections of different waste types compulsory, and ensuring recycling takes place as close as possible to where the waste is produced.
Define roles and responsibilities of local governments and companies. For example, introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes for industry and businesses to fund separate collections and recycling, and define whether recycling targets must be met at regional or municipal level.
- Bring in rules Once you have a strategy, support this with regulations defining permitting powers and procedures, waste accounting procedures, monitoring programmes, etc.
Plan in enforcement and policing – what will you do if local authorities do not meet the targets? What will the penalties be for littering?
Make goals set in the plan have funding, e.g. for prevention measures, awareness raising, reuse activities, waste collection infrastructure, incentives for local businesses to become less wasteful or for people to implement local recycling and composting activities. The economic benefits of better management of resources, reduced collection and disposal costs and jobs created in the new system will pay off!
- Support the flow
Support the development of markets for recycled materials, e.g. promote Green Public Procurement, and give priority to recycled products.
Trust the creativity of businesses, and create a favourable environment that supports waste-savvy innovations.
- Rethink the cycle
Promote Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as a way to finance better management of waste items like packaging and electronics, and to support redesign of products by industries, in order to minimise the use of hard to-recycle materials. Promote Deposit Refund Systems (DRS) as the best way to ensure materials are preserved!
- Knowledge Support lifelong learning and research to build society’s knowledge and skills around resource use and waste management.
Recognise waste as a resource, and an opportunity to increase profitability – recycling and composting reduces disposal costs, and triggers new business opportunities.
Teach the customer – is your product recyclable?
How and where should it be disposed of?
- Be a pioneer
Deposit schemes (e.g. putting a small deposit on drinks containers to ensure take-back) can be launched even if no national scheme is in place.
- Wrap it smart
Always opt for less packaging, smarter packaging, and reusable packaging. The same goes for products!
- Stay safe
Compost can only be used in agriculture if not polluted by other waste. Recycling may require specific safeguards for workers. Some plastics include harmful substances, making them unsuitable e.g. for food packaging or toys.
- The afterlife
What will happen to your product after use? Recyclable packaging that is in an area with no recycling collections may end up as litter. If compostable plastics end up in landfill they emit methane as they biodegrade.
- Inspire others Create new markets based around innovative, reusable or resource-savvy products.
- Rethink business models ’Do more with less’ – e.g. create lending services, selling the use of an item, not the item itself.
- Rethink resources Use recycled materials rather than virgin resources – the possibilities for recycled glass, plastics, paper and metals are huge. Composted organics are a great replacement for peat or mineral fertilisers.