Establishing environmentally sustainable and economically efficient economies: from waste management towards zero waste
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This document recommends establishing zero waste goals and policies in Oregon and the Northwest and suggests a number of steps that can be phased-in to achieve this. To aim towards zero waste, the region must move from an existing dominant focus on waste management to a new focus on preventing waste as it is currently defined, redesigning the waste management infrastructure, and on generating income and jobs through waste-based economic development. These steps will be good for the economy and environment. We believe that it is possible to move towards zero waste in Oregon and the Northwest through an interconnected three-part strategy: 1) develop "extended producer responsibility" goals and policies which require that manufacturers develop take-back strategies for all products that currently end up in landfills or incinerators. These policies are intended to force the emphasis "upstream" to stimulate new product designs and material selections which facilitate the reuse and recycling of products; 2) improve the "downstream" reuse and recycling of end-of-product-life materials through improved waste management infrastructure, waste exchange programs, recycled material market development and other steps; and 3) foster and support waste-based businesses as economic development and jobs creation opportunities, especially in low income rural communities or urban neighborhoods.