Stephen Ursery, Editor, Waste Age Magazine

July 1, 2009

2 Min Read
Lofty Goals

In recent years, you may have read about this city or that county adopting a zero-waste goal. What exactly, you may have asked yourself, are these jurisdictions hoping to achieve?

In this month's cover story ("Counting to Zero"), Waste Age contributing writer Michael Fickes examines the zero-waste initiatives of Berkeley, Calif.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle and Austin, Texas. He discovered that while all of these communities are seeking dramatic — and, some might say, impractical — increases in their landfill diversion rates, the specific targets do vary quite a bit.

For example, Andy Schneider, recycling program manager with the Berkeley, Calif., Public Works Department, told Fickes that in his city, “zero waste” means “as close to zero as possible.” Meanwhile, in nearby San Francisco, the goal is a little more specific and a little more aggressive. The city is aiming for a 75 percent landfill diversion rate in 2010 and a 100 percent diversion rate in 2020. “Zero waste means that nothing goes to a landfill,” Mark Westlund, a spokesperson for the city's SF Environment department, told Fickes.

In an effort to move closer to its goals, San Francisco, which already boasts a remarkable 72 percent landfill diversion rate, passed a mandatory recycling and composting ordinance (for more information on this new law, see “It's Required,” p. 6).

Zero-waste plans would seem ripe for portrayal as starry-eyed, hippie-inspired, pie-in-the-sky thinking. But in an era of dwindling room for landfills and ever-growing concerns about resources and global warming, jurisdictions that make aggressive efforts to reduce the size of their waste streams should be applauded. Far from being hopelessly utopian, such communities are displaying some good sense.

Don't Be Left Out! Don't miss your opportunity to be part of the 16th Annual Waste Age 100, which will appear in our August issue. This listing is the definitive source for the 100 largest solid waste companies, based on annual revenue. And entering the Waste Age 100 has never been easier — simply visit Enter today!

About the Author(s)

Stephen Ursery

Editor, Waste Age Magazine, Waste360

Stephen Ursery is the editor of Waste Age magazine. During his time as editor, Waste Age has won more than 20 national and regional awards. He has worked for Penton Media since August 1999. Before joining Waste Age as the magazine's managing editor, he was an associate editor for American City & County and for National Real Estate Investor.

Prior to joining Penton, Stephen worked as a reporter for The Marietta Daily Journal and The Fulton County Daily Report, both of which are located in metro Atlanta.

Stephen earned a BA in History from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

Stay in the Know - Subscribe to Our Newsletters
Join a network of more than 90,000 waste and recycling industry professionals. Get the latest news and insights straight to your inbox. Free.

You May Also Like