Last Thursday was Vancouver's Zero Waste Conference, which presents key insight from international and local leaders on eliminating waste. While the main event was hosted at Canada Place, there were satellite events happening simultaneously across Canada, enabling a national discussion. This year was a call towards a transition into a circular and regenerative economy through government, business and community groups.
Starting in 2010 by Metro Vancouver, the Zero Waste Conference has been integral for connecting local, national and global efforts. The organics composting throughout Metro Vancouver was developed through responding to feedback from this conference. This conference also led to the foundation of the National Zero Waste Council, which unites leaders from municipal government, business and non-governmental organizations across Canada.
The conference was packed with leaders offering their perspectives and insight. These are a quick set of 5 take-aways from the conference.
There is a shocking amount much food is wasted on both the production and consumer side. Currently there is no level of government in Canada that is tracking the amount of food wasted. Jen Rustemeyer encourages citizens to ask local retailers, wholesalers and government to track food waste, and to be curious about food supply chains. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Jen’s film, Just Eat It to get a handle of the scale of what food waste looks like in Canada.
Many manufacturers are developing new production techniques to ensure better re-use of materials. By designing products for an end-of-life cycle, materials can be recovered and/or re-used easier. Claudio Gemitti states that single-use coffee pods actually reduce food waste compared to pot-brewers, which is why him and Club Coffee are developing a completely compostable pod.
Klaske Kruk from Cities Circle Economy states that governments should encourage innovation of waste reduction through supporting space and providing funding for entrepreneurs. The circular economy provides directions towards sustainable business models, and industrial systems that are restorative by design.
Wayne Davis co-founded Harvest Power, which recycles more of the Lower Mainland's organic wastes than any other company. He shares with us that organics composting services cannot handle biodegradable bags, which gum up machinery and are visually indiscernible from typical plastic bags.
Cradle to Cradle Design
Bill McDonough, global leader in sustainable development, underscores the need to shift our focus from being less bad to being better. Designing for the circular economy means ensuring that all materials used in products are recoverable. By treating waste as a resource, we can retake, remake and restore.
It is so encouraging to hear and learn from diverse perspectives on zero waste. If you want to take part in the conversation, be sure to check out the National Zero Waste Council's resources. There are also many citizen led zero-waste initiatives, such as Zero Waste Canada which provide support and guidance.