Zero waste

Moving toward zero waste:

Put simply, zero waste means keeping the majority of our materials in closed loops: Food scraps are composted back into fertile soil; paper back into fiber, and so on. Eventually the whole concept of waste would disappear and we would continuously recycle our resources in never-ending loops.

Last week, members of [the] Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) toured Eco-Cycle, one of the largest non-profit recycling outfits in the United States.

All those who subscribe to Eco-Cycle receive three bins for their waste: one for compost, another for recyclables, and a third for "whatever's left".

Eco-cycle intends to eliminate the "whatever's left" category over time by working with designers to adjust their choices in packaging and product materials. In the long run, consumers would be left with two waste streams: one for composting and another for recycling.

Eco-cycle isn't alone in its transition toward zero waste. Toronto now recovers over 42 percent of its waste and is aiming for 70 percent by 2010. Germany recycles 60 percent of its municipal waste.