10-year Bridge Strategy to Zero Waste
The Eco-Cycle Bridge Strategy to a Zero Waste Community is a ten-year, three phase, 25-point plan that serves as a roadmap for how a community can transition from a world dominated by waste disposal—using landfills and incinerators—to one dominated by resource recovery—using recycling, composting, reuse and waste reduction. To be considered a Zero Waste community, it is not required to achieve “absolute zero” to disposal, but it does require a total commitment to pursuing zero along these three paths:
1. Maximizing downstream resource recovery through recycling and composting;
2. Maximizing midstream longevity through reuse, repair and durable design;
3. Maximizing upstream waste reduction through redesign, ZW purchasing, Producer Responsibility and New Rules.
Communities embracing Zero Waste planning will create more jobs, better protect the environment and expand their local economy to a greater degree than either landfill or incineration systems would. Already today there are communities around the world approaching and surpassing 70% discard recovery rates, and realizing these triple bottom line benefits. This plan will help your community get going, and who knows how far YOUR COMMUNITY can get in ten years?
The Eco-Cycle Bridge Strategy is built upon a simplified generic foundation of specific facilities needed for a community to reach Zero Waste, plus a short-list of policies and programs that have been proven to support resource recovery. The “10-Year Plan” is structured into three phases with progressive community goals of achieving 50%, 70% and 90% materials recovery:
Phase One: the “Access” Years 1-4: 50% recovery
Goals: Develop infrastructure and provide access to recycling services across all sectors.
Phase Two: the “Participation” Years 5-8: 70% recovery
Goals: Build participation in a source separation society and target hard-to-recycle material streams.
Phase Three: The “Zero Waste” Years 9-10+: 90% recovery
Goals: Reduce per-capita discard generation and phase “waste” items out of the community.
This ten-year plan offers a concrete and comprehensive approach to building new facilities, expanding recovery in all sectors of society, and revising the local incentives and rules so that recovery is favored over disposal—in short, the way forward is to “Build, Educate, Regulate.” These changes do not happen overnight and ten years is an ambitious timeline, but one that will create green jobs, strengthen local economies, reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and set course toward a more sustainable economy and community. Communities across the world are constantly revising their solid waste master plans and strengthening their sustainability goals, and this Bridge Strategy provides a framework to consolidate, track and evaluate progress.
On this decade-long journey to reach the eventual goal of 90% recovery (or better!), there will be thousands of tons of mixed waste needing to be addressed. How a community chooses to handle this so-called “residual waste” stream can directly impact how well the community succeeds in reaching its Zero Waste goals. One of our goals in creating this 10-Year Bridge Plan is to help cities prevent making an expensive mistake today (like building a $500 million incinerator) and instead plan to build the alternative Zero Waste infrastructure and programs over time which will negate the need for any large new landfills or incinerators.