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Updates – Environment Victoria’s most recent Zero Waste Newsletter

Posted in Events, Research by Ferne Edwards on August 27th, 2007

Rubbish Reflection

Zero Waste e_bulletin August 2007, http://www.envict.org.au/

Whats been happening in Zero Waste?
The Zero Waste Challenge

There was a fantastic response to Environment Victorias first-ever Zero Waste Challenge, which challenged about fifty households around Victoria to reduce their waste sent to landfill to zero. We surveyed most of the participants afterwards and found some interesting and revealing statistics:

Four out of five participants reduced their overall waste output from week one to week two (even though some of our participants already produced low levels of waste).
One third of those managed a mere 100-500 grams in total waste for the whole week, which just shows what’s possible with household waste.
One in four participants produced between 600 grams – 1 kg (that means over 50% of Zero Wasters got below 1kg; a very commendable effort!)
The challenge provided our campaign with some valuable insights into the barriers that interfere with reducing households’ everyday waste. One of the biggest barriers to Zero Waste was that usual suspect: packaging of food products from major supermarkets, in particular wrapping of fruit and veggies. This prime example of unnecessary packaging has been repeatedly highlighted to supermarkets, and yet they carry on with their polluting and worsening business as usual practices. We’ll return to this issue in a bigger way in the next few months with the 2007 DUMP Awards (for damaging and useless material in packaging), but in the meanwhile, we recommend that you use your consumer power and shop at markets and small retailers who operate more sustainably.

Another big problem for our Zero Waste competitors was the inability to compost green-waste from the kitchen for anyone who lacks the space and the means to have a compost bin – and there are plenty of us out there. Without home compost, a worm-farm, a Bokashi Bucket, or even a nearby community garden willing to take green waste, there’s no choice but to ditch kitchen scraps in the rubbish bin. The solution is a robust, entrepreneurial, alternative waste business sector capable of producing a whole range of products from our mountains of green waste; from high-grade compost to energy. Which leads us to…

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Strategic Plan
The Metro Waste Plan is extremely important to Melbourne’s sustainability future. It is the first attempt this city has ever made to really understand what happens waste-wise throughout the metropolitan area and to use that knowledge to create a waste plan that will help make Melbourne sustainable. The plan will cover areas which directly affect Melbournians, like collection of household green waste and the future sites of landfills, as well as industry and business issues, such as regulations to start ensuring that waste is treated like the valuable resource it is, and not something which is mindlessly dumped in landfill.

The plan is being formulated now and in November this year you will have an opportunity to tell the planners what you think Melbourne’s waste plan needs. Remember, both our population and economy are growing and no matter how well we reduce and recycle at home or in the workplace, the amount of waste we generate is growing too. So this is a fantastic opportunity to let our government know how urgent you know this problem is, and what the solutions are.

There will be a variety of solutions, from the introduction of new technologies like waste-to-energy facilities (from organic waste), to education and behaviour change, to a set of new regulations that encourage the creation of the infrastructure to collect and sort the waste and keep it out of landfill.

We’ll have much more to say about the plan over the next couple of months and we’ll make our position available on our website by mid-September (that’s www.environmentvictoria.org.au). We’ll send a reminder to you about it then, but you may want to start thinking about an individual submission for the plan, and we welcome your comments, questions and suggestions in the meanwhile. Send them all to zerowaste@ envict.org.au or call the campaign director Mark Doggett on 9341 8103 for a chat.

To sign up for the free email newsletter, visit http://www.envict.org.au/.

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