Zero waste practices are based on the idea of waste prevention, rather than simply managing waste after it is created. The goal is to reduce the amount of waste that is produced in the first place and to reuse or recycle as much of what is left over as possible.
While achieving zero waste may seem like an ambitious target, there are many small steps that everyone can take to make a difference. For example, choosing to reuse items instead of throwing them away, recycling properly, and avoiding single-use items are all great ways to reduce your waste footprint.
Making even just a few changes in your daily routine can add up to a big impact when everyone does their part. At UBQ, we are pleased to play a role in helping companies eliminate waste, reduce the environmental footprint across their supply chains, and meet their sustainability goals.
What is ‘Zero Waste?’
The zero waste lifestyle movement is about reducing our reliance on disposable products and instead choosing to repair, reuse, or recycle materials.
Zero waste is a way of thinking about how we consume and manufacture goods that encourages us to avoid sending waste to landfill or incineration. By doing this, we can help to protect the environment, prevent methane emissions, and reduce our impact on the planet.
Pursuing a zero waste lifestyle is about moving toward the goal of minimizing – or even eliminating – waste. We can also come closer to this goal by being more mindful of the things we buy from a consumer perspective.
Sustainable labeling allows consumers to be better informed about the environmental impacts of producing or using the product they would like to purchase. The labels can verify different environmental aspects of a product. Zero waste labels for example may refer not just to the final products but also to a clean manufacturing process.
The higher the demand for zero waste products and manufacturing, the higher the use of sustainable practices by manufacturers. Manufacturers can also have a significant positive impact in achieving a zero waste economy by using discarded materials as their feedstock. Diverting waste from landfills and converting it into something valuable that can be reused is essential in achieving a zero waste system, and at UBQ, this is our primary goal.
UBQ’s Role in Zero Waste Manufacturing
The UBQ conversion process was developed to have zero impact, with a relatively small amount of energy and no production waste, effluents, or use of water. UBQ Materials addresses the waste crisis as a whole by using all of the waste in a single, heterogeneous stream, and converting it into UBQ™. UBQ™ is a thermoplastic converted from 100% unsorted household waste – including food residues and unrecyclable plastics. Metals and minerals, which have high recyclability, are removed and sent over to traditional recycling streams. All that remains is transformed into UBQ™ – so nothing goes to waste.
Our thermoplastic material is helping manufacturers in multiple industries meet sustainability and zero waste goals by substituting oil-based resins with a climate-positive alternative. By integrating practices that are both environmentally and financially viable, manufacturers can make significant progress toward the goal of a zero waste supply chain.
Background on Zero Waste
The zero waste movement has gained momentum in recent years as awareness of the damaging environmental impacts of traditional waste management has grown.
Why it is important to act now and what is being done to achieve global objectives.
There are many reasons why zero waste is significant when aiming to achieve a climate-resilient and sustainable future. Firstly, it can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding the need for incineration or landfill disposal. Secondly, it can conserve valuable resources by using waste as feedstock instead of finite natural resources. Zero waste can protect future generations by mitigating the effects of climate change from many different angles.
Achieving zero waste requires a shift in everyday action – from how we consume to how we manufacture. Zero waste is not only important for the environment, but also for the economy and for social justice.
There are numerous ways that individuals and businesses can achieve zero waste, here at UBQ, we asked ourselves “What if there was a way to put all this waste to good use?” This question sparked the foundation of the UBQ™ material.
What are Zero Waste Best Practices and Principles?
There are 4 key principles of zero waste:
- Refuse what you do not need – simple as that.
- Reduce what you do need, including food waste. Did you know that nearly 80% of household waste consists of organic leftovers, like food? One way to reduce your waste footprint is to cut down on the food that gets thrown out and sent to the landfill. This can be done by meal prepping with leftovers, composting your food scraps, shopping at zero waste stores to get exactly as much as you need of each item, and choosing biobased products such as UBQ™.
- Reuse what you already have. Ditch single-use: Another way to reduce your waste footprint is to repair items you already own instead of tossing and purchasing new products. If needed, avoid purchasing single-use products and choose reusable and recyclable products.
- Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse. You can also reduce your waste footprint by recycling and upcycling materials. This can be done by donating unwanted items, repurposing old items, buying secondhand, and choosing products made with recycled or upcycled materials.
To implement zero waste practices and achieve a fully circular system, there must be a joint effort between manufacturers and consumers. While customers refuse single-use products, reduce consumption, and repair previously owned items, businesses can unlock the value in waste and use it as a raw material to manufacture upcycled and recyclable final products.
As recycling takes care of materials that cannot be reused or repaired, UBQ takes care of materials that cannot be recycled, closing the loop to achieve a truly circular economy. Manufacturers should also look beyond the products that are being made and ensure that the process itself is also zero waste and has zero impact on the environment.
Policies for Communities and Municipalities in Achieving Zero Waste
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to achieving zero waste, but there are some key policies that can help communities and cities move closer to this goal, such as the mandatory implementation of a waste separation program.
This means that all residents must separate their trash into different categories, such as metals, plastics, paper and cardboard, glass, and organics. By doing this, it becomes easier for recycling and composting facilities to process the waste, and less overall waste ends up in landfills.
Another key policy is to ban unnecessary single-use items. This includes disposable straws, coffee cups, plastic bags, and utensils. This encourages residents to swap for easy and immediate solutions that require no change in infrastructure.
Finally, it is important to encourage residents to reduce their overall waste production, decrease their consumption patterns, and expand the zero waste community. This can be done by providing incentives for recycling and composting, holding community events focused on zero waste living, and educating the public on ways to reduce their waste footprint.
These policies can help communities make significant progress towards the goal of reducing waste.
Best Practices for Businesses in Achieving Zero Waste
There are a number of key practices that businesses can adopt to help them move closer to this goal. These include:
Minimizing waste at its source: This means looking at ways to reduce the amount of waste generated in the first place. This could involve redesigning products or packaging, improving manufacturing processes, or changing how materials are used and disposed. Companies can also look for new technologies, such as 3D printing. Rather than sculpting an item from large amounts of a material, 3D printing is far more precise in the use of the material and produces significantly less scrap waste compared to traditional manufacturing.
Maximizing recycling and reuse: Wherever possible, recyclable and reusable materials should be used instead of virgin materials. This includes things like using recycled content in products, upcycling discarded items instead of sending them to landfills, and offering repair and exchange programs for customers.
Start your Zero Waste Journey with UBQ
There are plenty of small steps you can take to make a big difference. Here are some ideas to get you started. From supporting more sustainable production practices to being more mindful of your consumption.
As a consumer:
- Look for products that are made with recycled content or sustainable raw materials such as products #MadeWithUBQ. There are lots of alternatives available on the market with little or no virgin materials.
- Reduce waste by simply consuming less.
- Be conscious of your buying habits and only purchase what you really need.
Taking even just one of these steps will help you move closer to a zero waste lifestyle and a new era. Remember, the higher the demand for zero waste, the more businesses will shift to better manufacturing practices, and the closer we will get to a truly circular economy.