Wanderlust Reduce, reuse … Recycle? Rethinking the waste hierarchy


For a long time, I had been waiting for someone to write an article to help people understand the links between waste and climate change, the benefits of reuse over composting or recycling, and how to detect green washing. Finally, it’s here. In Thanks for Feasting Sustainably, Ali Smith cuts through misinformation by interviewing composting experts to better understand why compostable packaging is not the environmental solution that many have come to believe it is. Throughout the article, he highlights local companies trying to do the best they can for the planet, either by using aluminum containers that are easier to recycle or by entering the new economy of reuse.

The fact that packaging is not recyclable or compostable in the way it is labeled is a major problem and, as it stands, is not really being treated at the highest levels. The recent U.S. infrastructure bill includes $ 75 million to fund public relations campaigns on how and where to recycle. What good is it to make sure that Americans put plastics in the right containers when the plan seems to support “solutions” that are intensive and environmentally friendly with the oil industry, such as chemical recycling, but * no * many of the points reflected in the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act? It seems like a lot of money is being spent to convince people that recycling works, just so that the oil industry can make up for its losses in the transportation industry.

Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and a total hero of mine, made it very clear that any 7-year-old in the United States can recite the call to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but “we [adults] keep jumping the first steps “.

Solutions with social and environmental impacts, however complicated, are often ignored in favor of equally complicated pseudo-solutions that prefer big money with a keen interest in maintaining the status quo. We already have enough ambition to overcome it; the question is whether we can do it at the speed required by the climate crisis.

The really shocking solutions are in the transition to a more circular economy.

circularity gap

The circularity gap report

The circularity report states: “The circular economy offers a systematic approach to achieving a safe and fair space. Designing waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible and regenerating waste. natural systems, it promises to meet the needs of people, without transgressing the limits of the planet. ” Its 2020 report finds that 21 circular economy strategies could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 39%. The report suggests specific actions that countries with different levels of economic development can take to integrate circular solutions into their climate commitments.
With all the measures, including the use of water, reuse generates lower emissions than all types of disposable packaging, whether plastic (read about how plastic production is on track to generate more emissions than coal in 2030) or “compostable” (read why this is). problematic here). I am comforted to see that other startups are working to make reusable circular solutions affordable. What I would like to see is more investment in these solutions so that we can benefit from their real potential for reducing emissions.

Lauren Sweeney

Lauren Sweeney co-founded DeliverZero, a network of reusable packaging that makes it easy for customers to take order and deliver in returnable reusable packaging. As a DeliverZero CMO, he provides a community-focused marketing approach. Through the connection she has created with DeliverZero customers, Lauren regularly shares education on the links between climate change and waste, with a great deal of climate optimism. She believes that truly tackling the climate crisis will bring out the best in humanity and create a more equitable world. He lives in New York City with his daughter and practices kundalini yoga whenever he can.

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