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 and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.
CU is among a growing number of schools that have adopted ZWIA definition and principles and adapted them for colleges and universities. The principles developed by the ZWIA recognize that nothing can be perfect and that a mature industrial economy could not reach literal Zero Waste. Which is why they say Zero Waste... or Darn Near Close...
Principles as they are adapted to CU and other colleges/universities:
Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide campuses in changing their policies and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.
Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.
Campuses that achieve over 90% diversion of waste from landfills and incinerators are considered to be successful in achieving Zero Waste.
More background and a discussion group is available here.
Zero Waste is defined by some of the following parameters:
90% or greater waste diversion from landfills.
NO waste to incinerators.
All discarded materials are resources.
Resources should not be burned or buried.
The goal is zero air, water, and land emissions.
Principles of CU’s Commitment to Zero Waste
CU’s goal is to reach Zero Waste by 2025, which is consistent with Boulder County and the State of Colorado. Although 90 percent diversion is a typical Zero Waste goal, there are numerous principles that guide daily progress at CU.
Balances a triple bottom-line
Cornerstone of climate action plans
Emphasis on precycling
Design for diversion
Highest and best use
Preference for environmentally preferable products