This Week In Zero Waste

In an attempt to be both aware and participate in the progression towards a circular economy, I collect stories from around the world and post them here in a weekly segment. Most have to do with eliminating waste. Some have to do with broader issues. Some with issues that are tied in to how materials are handled. Regardless of these topics, I attempt to tie them all in together and give my readers an accurate snapshot of how resources are used efficiently today.

I went to the Advance Design & Manufacturing Expo in Toronto Canada this week and shared a few things on my Insta, here are a few of those highlights.

A post shared by ScottJMorrison (@sjmconsults) on

A post shared by ScottJMorrison (@sjmconsults) on

A post shared by ScottJMorrison (@sjmconsults) on


How the world is wrangling waste: Five lessons from the Waste 2017 conference
As a wrap up of the Waste 2017 Conference in NSW Aus, this article outlines 5 trending ways that waste is increasingly being handled:
1 - Reducing Food Throw-Outs (In Australia, organisations such as REAP Food Rescue connect local food business donors with local charities and rescue more than 12,000 kilograms of surplus food each month.)
2 - Recycling Gizmos and Gadgets (Phones have a material recovery rate of 98%)
3 - Taking 3 For The Sea (Take 3 Program)
4 - State Of The Art Landfills (Drawing on Vancouver's zero-waste program that promotes incineration and ultimately losses valuable materials)
5 - Consuming Conscientiously (Conservation is the responsibility of consumers)

Nothing groundbreaking or surprising here. The waste industry continues to promote incineration instead of allegiances with manufacturers to change the way waste is created, disassembled and reused.


Getting to zero: how Asana Culinary minimizes food waste

An interesting rundown to various ways the culinary team at Asana has committed to "using every component of food, they reduce costs for the company while also doing their part to reduce the amount of waste in the world."

From their blog:

"Extend the lifecycle of every ingredient or dish

Part of reducing waste is extending the lifecycle of a dish or ingredient. To do that, the culinary team follows the same cycle for every dish:
  1. A new dish goes out.
  2. Leftovers are taken back to the kitchen.
  3. Chefs assess the remaining ingredients and use their creative juices to find ways to repurpose them.
  4. Leftovers get used in new dishes and creative recipes.
  5. A new dish goes out.
  6. (…and repeat…)
For example, if asparagus is served at lunch one day, it might get scrambled with eggs the following morning, tossed in a salad at lunch or dinner, or pureed into a soup. It might even go through all these stages!"

This is actually a very effective process in reducing waste and costs. Some creativity is needed by the chefs in creating meals, but a process of planning leftovers into the next meal could yield some very strong savings. Some education and safety is required so people don't think they are getting Bob's leftover rice in their burrito.


I saw this the other day,  NYC 'zero waste' progress report gives updates on shift to single-stream, local AD, and was a little surprised. Everyone knows that if you plan on selling your material on the commodities market that seperate clean streams are best as they preserve material quality far better than mixed or single stream. So what is NYC thinking? Well by combining recyclables (plastics, bottles, cans and paper) they save a bin. A bin in a very big city is a very big deal.

The article does a good job at explaining the overall Zero Waste effort of NYC but really only offered two interesting points about the single-stream concept:
  1. "Switching to single-stream will likely increase capture rates, and expanding organics diversion access will help, though a lack of available space makes siting some of the necessary processing infrastructure to handle more material locally a challenge."
  2. "Switching to single-stream recycling by 2020 is seen as one way to reach that goal. The city reports that while progress is slightly behind schedule, a consultant's study is slated for completion this summer..."
... So when I saw that the NRC was hosting a webinar on NYC Zero Waste Program, naturally I signed up. The presentation offered a tad more insight into the grand scale of NYC dilemma but offered really just one additional benefit of the single-stream program - Less trucks on the road. I shouldn't belittle this decision, NYC has a lot of trucks. And getting those off the road is a big deal. I was just hoping they'd share projected gain vs loss revenue by eliminating the paper bin and going with a single stream recycle program. That would've been interesting to see. Here are some screen shots from that webinar.


Lots of Textile waste reduction news this past week:



Every Sustainability team of every company, city and country out there right now is trying to align their programs with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

The best business communication piece I've been able to find belongs to TECK.

The World Bank does a fantastic job at displaying how each country is progressing towards achieving theSDG's.

...and highlights individual aspects of each goal.


And for the video portion of this post...

1st - A new documentary just launched...

"RACING TO ZERO examines our society's garbage practices in terms of consumption, preparation, use and production, and discovers some amazing solutions in San Francisco, which is successfully taking the necessary steps to reach zero waste. Cities all over the United States have instituted zero-waste policies of their own, and it is through these mandates that we are challenged to think differently about not only how we handle our garbage, but what it can become."

2nd -

3rd - ABC's War on Waste

Episode 1 here.