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.