Zero Waste Initiatives in the United States


January 20, 2023


Zero Waste Association

Zero Waste in the United States

Zero waste initiatives have been gaining momentum in America as a way to reduce the environmental impact of waste and promote sustainable living. These initiatives aim to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators by encouraging recycling, composting, and reducing consumption.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States generated about 267.8 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2019. Of that, about 69.1% was landfilled and 12.5% was recycled or composted. Zero waste initiatives aim to increase the recycling and composting rate while decreasing the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Local Zero Waste Programs

Many cities and towns across America have implemented curbside recycling programs, making it easy for residents to recycle common materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass. Some cities, such as San Francisco, have set a goal to reach zero waste by 2020, and have implemented policies such as mandatory recycling and composting for businesses, and providing education and outreach to residents.

In addition, some states have implemented legislation to promote zero waste initiatives. California, for example, has a state-wide goal to divert 75% of waste from landfills by 2020, and has implemented a statewide recycling and composting program for businesses. Additionally, in 2019, New York City passed a comprehensive zero waste plan, which includes the expansion of curbside composting, increasing recycling in public spaces, and launching an education campaign to reduce single-use plastics.

However, Zero waste initiatives are not limited to government actions, many private companies are also taking steps to reduce their waste. For example, Patagonia, a clothing company, has implemented a program to repair and recycle its products, and has a goal to become a completely circular business by 2020. Additionally, many grocery stores are now offering bulk food options, allowing customers to buy only the amount they need, reducing packaging waste.

In conclusion, zero waste initiatives are becoming increasingly important in America as a way to reduce the environmental impact of waste and promote sustainable living. Cities, states, and private companies are all taking steps to increase recycling and composting, reduce waste, and promote sustainable practices. These initiatives not only help to preserve the environment but also create jobs, save energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


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