Zero Waste

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The most far-reaching proposals for managing human garbage in the future involve the idea of "zero waste." Some proponents define this concept as simply a vast increase in the current model of consumer recycling of various types of wastes. Most zero waste advocates, however, say it requires instead a major restructuring of our manufacturing system to require producers to recycle 100 percent of their products and reuse the materials to create new products. As the Zero Waste Institute explains: "Zero waste states that the best way to avoid waste is to reuse everything over and over—perpetually. And that this can only be done if reuse is designed into all products, right from the start."62

Indeed, some commentators have said that the idea behind zero waste is to eliminate the very idea of waste. As writer Marc Gunther puts it: "Zero waste is just what it sounds like— producing, consuming, and recycling products without throwing anything away. Getting to a wasteless world will require nothing less than a total makeover of the global economy, which thinkers such as entrepreneur Paul Hawken, consultant Amory Lovins, and architect William McDonough have called the Next Industrial Revolution."63

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