The Wasteberg Concept and Zero Waste


The Wasteberg Concept and Zero Waste

More than 2 decades ago people began to realize the impossibility of reaching a sustainable society by ONLY focussing on downstream recycling and waste diversion.

This realization created the foundations for the Zero Waste movement and its underlying “no waste to landfill” philosophies. 

Zero Waste is defined as the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials, without burning or discharges to land, water, or air, protecting this way the environment and human health (ZWIA).

Soon it became clear that it was important to start with minimizing the upstream resource extraction to produce goods and demand an industry-wide redesign of manufacturing processes to achieve clean production.

“The Wasteberg” is a key reference of Zero Waste Canada

In our “Intro to Zero Waste” webinar, we explain what the Wasteberg teaches us: For every 1 ton of waste we generate, an average of 71 tonnes are generated further upstream (in the production phase) before the product is even in our hands [Waste and Recycling in the United States, 2000)]

As the picture above clearly indicates, before a product or food item gets to you, it has gone through a series of stages which themselves generate waste in different forms.

Although we recognize that recycling is important, it only cuts off 2 stages of a product’s life cycle. When we recycle plastics, the cut is even less reaching.

Enter Zero Waste

If we consider landfills, recycling, waste management, plastic, and so on, they still only belong to the 1-tonne category. When we think about that, we come to realize that we are only scratching the surface of the waste issue.

This is the area where Zero Waste plays its most important role. Zero Waste is all about looking at the full picture and not just at what’s above the surface. It focuses on this issue from a systems perspective: considering the entire network of consumption and production.

What can you do right now?

The notion of indirect waste can be difficult to grasp mainly because it is so hard to see. However, since 98% of all waste generated happens behind the scenes, and remains mostly unseen, the one thing you can do right now, is to make sure to reduce your purchases.

Rethink and redesign how you take on life as a consumer.

Zero Waste Fundamentals Program

If you are ready to take your Zero Waste knowledge to the next level, then you can register for the Zero Waste Fundamentals Program.

This self-run course consists of 5 sessions, a mix of video classes, mini-quizzes, exercises, and additional resources. It is specifically designed for those who are looking for more in-depth knowledge on Zero Waste and aims to provide a solid foundation of Zero Waste practices, policies, values, and concepts.

After completion, you will be able to actively identify, support, and advocate for Zero Waste, achieving a Zero Waste Canada official certificate of conclusion.

It is time to delve into this new way of living and become the first among your colleagues, community, friends, and family, who started their journey toward Zero Waste.

Registration is now open and we hope that you will join the wonderful global community of Zero Waste enthusiasts!

Register here for the Zero Waste Fundamental program. You can also download the course handbook.

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