Zero waste is a fresh approach to waste management and the use of resources. It goes beyond the “end-of-the-line” treatment of waste and promotes not only the three “R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle), but also focuses on a “whole system” approach to the use of resources including composting and conservation (rot, restore).
Zero Waste seeks to eliminate negative impacts of designing, producing, using, and discarding of products and packaging:
At the Zero Waste Workshop on March 4, 2019, the City provided information about our current achievement of 78 percent diversion of waste from the landfill, and presented the results of the latest Waste Characterization Study. The City asked participants to identify the policies, programs and infrastructure needed to achieve the City's goal of 90 percent waste reduction and recycling by 2030.
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Development of a Zero Waste Plan is a multi-year effort and is undertaken in preparation for new collection, processing, and landfill service agreements.
Before a plan can be developed, a study of the community's waste is undertaken to identify opportunities to divert waste from the landfill by new or enhanced waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting programs. Such programs conserve landfill space and natural resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Some wastes are problematic or have little or zero market value. Mountain View's trash is sorted to ensure that recyclables are diverted from the landfill and to test-market low or no value materials. Strict new recycling standards from export markets are also having an impact and require all of us to recycle correctly. See the Dirty Dozen for more information.
State Legislation Needed
State legislation is needed where the City does not have direct control. Changes are required in private-sector practices related to product design, purchasing, use, and “end-of-life” management, whether voluntary or in response to State or national regulatory mandates. These changes are already beginning to happen (for example recent California legislation requiring manufacturer responsibility for paint, mattress, and carpet recycling and disposal) and the Zero Waste Policy calls for City support of additional legislation and other actions that can result in this “producer responsibility."