Berkeley Adopts Zero-Waste Goal
The council unanimously approved the resolution which officially adopts a 75% waste reduction goal for 2010, and establishes a zero-waste goal for 2020. The resolution also suggests that Solid Waste Management Commission change its name to the zero waste commission.
"This is a great day for recycling and all types of resource recovery", said Martin Bourque, executive director of Berkeley's Ecology Center. "As Berkeley's Curbside Recycler, we have been promoting zero waste for many years, and this sets us all on a path that conserves natural resources and protects the planet from pollution, while creating good green-collar jobs."
Zero waste is a concept that couples aggressive resource recovery with industrial redesign to eliminate the very concept of waste. "If it can't be reused, rebuilt, refurbished, reconfigured, recycled, or composted, then it needs to be redesigned—or removed from production all together," said Dan Knapp, founder and owner of Urban Ore, Berkeley's premier reuse retailer.
The details of how to reach these goals have been left to the Commission and City staff. "It is not going to be easy," said Tom Farrell, Director of the Solid Waste Management Division of the City of Berkeley. "We have come a long way to the 50% mark, but reaching zero waste will definitely require fundamental changes in the manufacturing and packaging industries."
Berkeley has a long history of leadership in eliminating waste. Over 30 years ago, the Ecology Center pioneered curbside recycling, a radical idea at the time that has since become as mainstream as apple pie. Today the Ecology Center runs this program for the City of Berkeley, saving over 100,000 trees and 65,000 barrels of oil each year, while supporting 30 union recycling jobs. Recycling also saves the City and its residents lots of money.
Berkeley had the Nation's first solid waste management plan that included separating refuse from recyclable materials in the home, and in the early 1980s the residents passed one of the Country's first bans on garbage incineration, helping defeat the onslaught of toxic incinerator projects planned for the Bay Area and the Nation.
"In the 1980's when Berkeley set a goal of reducing waste by 50%, everyone said it couldn't be done", said Mayor Tom Bates who sponsored the resolution, "Not only did we prove them wrong, but less than a decade later the State of California set that goal for all counties. I am confident that we will not only meet our zero-waste goal, but give a boost to innovative waste reduction policy across the nation."
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