Overview and Definition
Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature. The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is:
DIVERSION RATE = RECYCLING + COMPOST / RECYCLING + COMPOST + LANDFILL
So, if you have 5 pounds of recycling, 4 pounds of compost, and 1 pound of landfill waste, you have a diversion rate of .9, or as it is commonly expressed, a 90% diversion rate. Entities that are able to achieve diversion rates of 90% or higher frequently refer to themselves as “zero waste”.