Zero Waste


A waste-free society is essential to public health and the integrity and sustainability of the biosphere. Natural ecosystems are self-sustaining and generate no waste. We humans are a part of these ecosystems, and while we obtain resources from them, we have a responsibility to return only those things that can be re-absorbed without detriment. Waste is not an inevitable part of production and consumption, as it is viewed in the current economic model.


  • Phase out all avoidable production and sale of toxic metals, persistent organic pollutants, persistent bio-accumulative toxins, synthetic petrochemicals, and halogenated chemicals. Replace them with non-toxic alternatives.
  • Make manufacturers responsible for the full life cycle of their products by requiring them to take back used products and packaging for re-manufacturing, reuse, or recycling.
  • Support and implement the precautionary principle: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.”
  • Strengthen right-to-know laws so that everyone can discover what toxic or potentially toxic chemicals are used and released in their communities, and in products that they might purchase or use.
  • Hold corporations strictly liable for the consequences of the pollution they produce. We support the Citizens’ Platform on Superfund, as adopted at the 1995 Communities At Risk Superfund Summit in Washington, DC. End the use of incineration as a cleanup technology, and ensure that “cleanups” don’t simply relocate toxins to chemical waste dumps in poor communities of color.
  • Shut down existing waste incinerators, impose a moratorium on new waste incinerators, and phase out landfills. For all possible waste streams, we support the following strategies (in order of priority) as alternatives to incineration and landfills: (a) toxics use reduction; (b) source reduction, reuse, clean recycling or composting /digestion; or (c) neutralization, sterilization or detoxification methods where applicable.
  • Do not deregulate wastes containing toxic or radioactive contaminants significantly above background levels. They should not be allowed to be used in “beneficial use” schemes as fertilizer, “co-products,” or fuels; or by “recycling” them into consumer products (including construction materials) or disposing of them as municipal waste.
  • Do not export, under any circumstances, chemicals that are prohibited in the United States. We oppose shipping of toxic, hazardous, or radioactive wastes across national borders, and the shipment of such wastes without strict regulation across any political borders. Waste should not be considered a tradable commodity under the Interstate Commerce Clause.
  • Safe, secure, above ground storage for existing nuclear waste. We oppose exporting nuclear waste to other nations.
  • Strict regulation of radioactive materials and wastes and prohibiting such wastes to be recycled into consumer products and to enter municipal waste landfills and incinerators.
  • Close, clean up and remediate at national labs devoted to nuclear energy and weapons development and operations at the Department of Energy’s nuclear production sites.
  • Clean up depleted uranium contamination from testing ranges and battlefields, and provide generously compensate veterans and civilians who have been sickened by depleted uranium exposure.
  • Require independent, transparent radiation monitoring at all nuclear facilities.
  • Substitute chemical safety testing on animals with alternatives that do not use animals, wherever such alternative tests or testing strategies are available.

Think Progress – Burning Trash To Create Energy: The Complicated Journey To Zero Waste

Fast Coexist – 4 Cities That Are Getting Rid Of All Of Their Garbage

City of Houston – One Bin for All

This Is How You Make a Trash-Free City

The Swedish recycling revolution

New York Times – Dallas Looks at How to Produce Less Trash

Which Countries Are Best at Recycling?

Economist – Recycling in America – In the bin

Countries with the Highest Recycling Rate

Green Peace – Where does e-waste end up?

Forbes – Which Country Is On Top Of The World’s Electronic Waste Mountain? [Infographic]

US News – E-Waste in Developing Countries Endangers Environment, Locals

Austin Chronicle – Significant Dates in Austin Zero Waste History

City of Dallas – Sanitation Services working toward “Zero Waste” by 2040

State of Maryland – Zero Waste Plan

Missoula City Council initiates work on ‘zero-waste’ plan

ILSR – Condo in the Scarborough district of Toronto gets serious about recycling

Yes Magazine – Where Does All the Trash from Dollywood Go? To One of the World’s Best Composting Facilities

City Lab – How Beirut’s Garbage Crisis Led to More Recycling

City Lab – Philadelphia Goes All In on Garbage Disposals

City Lab – Stockholm’s Ingenious Plan to Recycle Yard Waste

Dallas News – Dallas recycling stuck at only half its goal for ‘zero waste’

Huffington Post – 99 Per Cent Of Sweden’s Garbage Is Now Recycled (VIDEO)

Huffington Post – Miami-Dade County Bans Styrofoam From Parks, Beaches

Mother Jones – What the Heck Is Up With California’s Recycling Program?

Mother Jones – San Francisco Just Passed the Nation’s Toughest Ban on Styrofoam

Next City – Portland Promotes Deconstruction Over Demolition

Al Jazeera – Dirty power: Sweden wants your garbage for energy

Fast Company – In Japan’s Zero-Waste Town, Recycling Requires Zen-Like Patience