Heads Up from Zero Wasters in Wales, and the Zero Waste International Trust, Plasnewydd, Wales, UK

Date: 11 Feb 2015 | posted in: waste - zero waste, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Mal Williams, director of the Zero Waste International Trust, alerts us to some good news from the UK by forwarding the recent government report on just how much potential there is in the Zero Waste world for wealth creation and sustainable jobs, “Resource Management: A Catalyst for Growth and Productivity,” UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. February 2015.

Does this mean that the wave of enthusiasm for garbage incinerators in the UK is over? Mal says, “The slumbering giant that is our Westminster government is waking up to our messages.” Maybe, Mal muses, it’s because now it is their idea.

Mary Lou Van Deventer, Urban Ore, reminds us of another government report that moved Zero Waste and total recycling forward.

Once upon a time, when Dan Knapp and I were talking about total recycling and being scorned for it even among some recyclers, Dan went to Canberra, Australia, and came back to the US with a government-stamped report called “No Waste By 2010.”  It was a draft at the time but was later adopted by Parliament in 1996.  Since it had a governmental stamp, it was credible.  The Zero Waste concept swept across the continent like a wildfire, and total recycling was no longer to be scorned.  Bill Sheehan, Grass Roots Recycling Network (GRRN), put the report on the internet and worked with a Georgia legislator, who proposed the first Zero Waste state-level legislation.

Today the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government in Canberra still retains the name “No Waste” for its agency and garbage trucks, although it failed to implement the ideas.  It even shut down the then-successful Australian reuse group Revolve, which came up with the ideas the ACT developed and adopted.  Gerry Gillespie worked for the ACT government when the idea emerged, then sat on the board of Revolve.  He was at the heart of the resistance for agonizing years as the government changed its direction and killed off the organization that once inspired it.

But the idea, once revealed in public, cannot be shut down everywhere.  Not only won’t this genie go back into the bottle, it will work a lot of magic when it is given a chance.

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.