Recycling programs are a great way to reduce the amount of material that goes into landfills, and is thus better for the environment as a whole. School recycling programs that are taught and put into practice in elementary school classrooms are promoting the practice to our next generation of leaders.
But does all of this go far enough ? That’s the idea some people are keeping in mind when thinking about what it would take to reach a point of Zero Waste — where every bit of waste that we produce is recycled, broken down into bio fuels, or completely eliminated.
If put into full-scale practice, Zero Waste would eliminate the need for landfills completely. It would create a healthier environment by taking pollutants out of the soil, air and water. And even though it would eliminate some jobs performed at landfills, it would create a whole new segment of jobs that would positively impact the economy, as well as new ways to create energy when using bio fuels to generate turbines. That’s a triple-win situation.
A consortium of businesses is trying to do just that in Hampton Roads. If successful in their venture — what they are calling the Hampton Roads Urban Mining Center — they will be able to take all waste, not just recyclable materials, and turn it into something usable.
If this project does come to fruition, it would be one of the first, if not the first, such facility in the U.S. Hopefully other areas around the country would quickly follow suit. For those that don’t, there would still be a market for taking refuse from other metropolitan cities (Virginia has historically been #2 in the nation for taking garbage from New York City for disposal in landfills) in an agreement that would benefit everyone.
Will we see the day when we live in a Zero Waste environment ? Our fingers are crossed.