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Zero waste towns
Zero waste towns are motivated by the landfill shortage in Western countries, awareness that organic decay in landfills affects climate change through releasing methane, and a desire to have a smaller ecological footprint.
A town or commune in Denmarkplease expand separates and recycles all waste. The high density of the community (dense-low style) and shared commitment makes recycling possible to a degree impractical in most communities. Waste is separated into many material types, for recycling, or composting.
The first step is crucial - reduce unnecessary use of materials including:
- packaging and plastic bags.
- food - find ways for households to buy fresh food as needed, rather than stocking up with large amounts of food, which often results in waste.
- water - practice water conservation.
Encourage people pool old, broken and/or unwanted products through a recycling center where scavengers or people looking for a particular product can safely pick through and take things, either for free or a small cost.
Collection and separation are key - effective recycling requires:
- community level decisions to discourage products whose packaging is difficult to recycle
- consciousness - separating recycling and other waste at the household level.
- central collection/processing area. If the quantities are sufficient, an efficient process can be set up, possibly aided by automated separation technologies.
- Minimize downcycling - in practice this can't be avoided entirely, but product and packaging choices can help.
- Name? Mentioned in Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence, by Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy.
- Nudging Recycling From Less Waste to None, NY Times, October 19, 2009.
- Japan’s zero waste town: recycle everything! - embedded videos of news reports. Zero waste in Japan (brief text), BBC, 11 July 2008.
- Kamikatsu Town Government (PDF), information on Environmental Protection Activities and learning opportunities.