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Landfills, Waste to Energy, Recycling and the Leap to Zero Waste

  • CIC Cambridge 1 Broadway, 5th floor, Venture Cafe Cambridge, MA, 02142 United States (map)

If you’re reading this, you likely consider yourself sustainability-minded, probably recycle, perhaps even compost, and may even have already adopted a zero-waste perspective. But the data suggests that most of us don’t know all that much about what happens “down stream” from our use, don’t make the connection with climate change, and haven’t ventured far in the direction of inconvenience.

Even as municipalities roll out big, single-stream recycling bins, markets for the collected commodities face ever more intense pressure. In January, China, a major consumer of post-consumer waste plastic, shut its doors. Where is the plastic going now? What happens to collected glass that finds no buyer? The significant proliferation of corrugated cardboard with the widespread penetration of Amazon deliveries is making it difficult to find a buyer for many a would-be recycler of cardboard. Some say there’s nothing wrong with landfilling and we’ll never run out of landfill space. Is that true? What’s the environmental impact of simply hauling overflowing trash from metropolitan areas to rural sites – and what are we doing to those rural sites? And is “Waste to Energy” something we should be bragging about? Do people really do Zero Waste? Here to help us navigate we welcome: