Marin Zero Waste

Zero Waste

We believe the Zero Waste movement has many laudable goals, including promoting green jobs and educating society about the benefits of moving away from living in a throw away culture. We are glad to assist the Zero Waste movement and thank you for doing your part to help Marin achieve our Zero Waste goals.

What is Zero Waste?

The peer-reviewed and internationally-recognized definition of Zero Waste from the Zero Waste International Alliance is: the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

Taken to the extreme, Zero Waste means exactly what it says: making no waste at all. Everything we use is reused over and over again. In a Zero Waste world, for example, empty containers would be brought into supermarkets and refilled from bulk dispensers. Even some recycling would be frowned upon because recycling allows for the continued production of products that could be eliminated (for example, plastic water bottles, which can be replaced by reusable water bottles).

Another version of a Zero Waste world would be one in which the need for landfills is eliminated through reduced consumption and reuse of products, but there would be continued heavy reliance on centralized recycling and composting programs.

Zero Waste Marin

Zero Waste Marin is the formal name for the Marin Hazardous and
Solid Waste Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which is comprised of the city and town managers of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito and Tiburon and the County of Marin. Zero Waste Marin ensures Marin’s compliance with state recycling mandates – all while educating the citizens and businesses of Marin.

On their website, you’ll find tons of resources to help you reach your Zero Waste goal including actionable tips that will improve your daily routine, the environment and your bank account.

Marin County’s Zero Waste Goal

Zero Waste Marin has established a Zero Waste Goal by 2025. To address how best to meet this Zero Waste Goal, Zero Waste Marin initiated a two-phase process. Phase I, the “Zero Waste Feasibility Study”, was completed in 2009 and focused on establishing programs and policies to strengthen the countywide framework for meeting the goal. Phase II, the “Zero Waste Toolkit”, focuses on implementation of specific programs and policies by the member agencies and Zero Waste Marin to meet this goal.

The Garbage Industry and Zero Waste

There is some debate over the garbage industry’s role in the development of Zero Waste programs. Some critics believe we don’t want Zero Waste to succeed because it will put us out of business. Others go as far as to suggest that our industry is actually the source of the problem. (Apparently they think an easy-to-use waste collection system enables the public to live in a throw away society without feeling guilty about it, and therefore encourages consumption.)

These assertions are needlessly divisive. First, it’s true the garbage industry makes it’s money hauling waste, but casting aspersions on this service doesn’t provide solutions to the problem of over consumption and needlessly focuses attention away from progress. The development of new services like resource recovery parks, deconstruction services and repair malls that will be necessary to achieve Zero Waste will take time and will be instigated by changes in our behavior. Garbage companies will be a necessary bridge between now and the time Zero Waste is a reality. Even then we believe recycling and composting services will continue to play their part, so “garbage” companies will simply continue shifting their operations to these activities rather than ceasing to exist.

Second, the garbage industry is not responsible for the volume of waste our society produces. Providing an easy-to-use waste collection system, as well as recycling and composting services, does not undermine ultimate Zero Waste goals. The bottom line is that garbage companies still must do their job in today’s world and cannot assist Zero Waste goals by decreasing services to discourage consumption.

Proponents know that Zero Waste “is not a solution, but a lifestyle.” For us as consumers, that means rethinking our purchasing behaviors. For manufacturers, it means redesigning products and packaging. For the garbage industry, it means being prepared for changes in the kind of waste created and collected.

Mill Valley Refuse Service has been serving Marin County for more than 100 years. We’ve adapted to the changing needs of our clients, community and environment successfully over our century of service, and we will be doing our part to help Marin reach its Zero Waste goals.

Interested in how to live a Zero Waste lifestyle? With a blog turned bestselling book and talks throughout the world, Bea Johnson of Mill Valley has inspired a global movement and you can learn how her family of four is thriving in a Zero Waste Home.

The official site of California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRycycle) that includes information on programs that are important to the long-term vitality of California’s environment and economy.

A guide to building just and resilient zero waste cities from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

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