New York’s goal of sending “zero waste” to landfills by 2030 may be missing the mark on what the term is really supposed to mean.
Dr. Maggie Clarke, an environmental scientist who has been involved in local waste policy for more than 30 years, said the term zero waste is all about reusing every resource for as long as possible while expending as little energy as possible. Think of the ubiquitous recycling triangle on a much greater scale.
“The full life cycle means that you’re looking at the environmental energy and every other kind of impact from extraction, refining, and manufacturing to transportation links…all the way to the store and to usage,” said Clarke. “As well as what happens to the discarded product.”
She said that if cities like New York are serious about achieving zero waste they have to stop signing long-term contracts for landfilling and incineration.