Creating a more sustainable future starts with actions that have impact around the world. In light of the first-ever International Day of Zero Waste on March 30, 2023, ANSI recognizes its members and standards developing organizations that support the initiative through various activities related to sustainability, waste management, and the circular economy.
Announced at the UN General Assembly in December 2022, the annual zero waste campaign amplifies efforts that promote sustainable consumption and production patterns to protect the environment, enhance food security, and improve human health and well-being.
In honor of the day, a new UN video highlights how everyone can aim to “beat waste pollution,” encouraging viewers to reflect on electronic waste (e-waste).
“Our demand for new tech never tires. But how much more can our planet take of machines that are made to break? We need gadgets that we can lease, repair, and recycle. A circular economy that spins like vinyl to create new from the old. We need industries to design smarter products that last longer. We need policies to manage e-waste better. And when you buy your tech, think about where it will end,” the narrator says.
The UN also underscores that recognizing and promoting efforts to get to zero waste can help advance all the goals and targets in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production.
Building a Better World Across Industries and Standardization for “Zero Waste”
In recognition of the UN campaign—and its related efforts—ANSI pays tribute to members, international achievements, and government resources that support the global mission to achieve zero waste. ANSI is proud to shine a spotlight on just a few of the many active efforts that support zero waste:
The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) Zero Net Waste (ZNW) program recognizes companies that take steps to drive toward zero net waste in manufacturing. Through its program, PLASTICS reports that it aims to drive the industry toward waste reduction and maximum recovery of resources, consistent with the sustainable materials management model being embraced by leaders and regulatory agencies around the globe. By using the ZNW tools, participants can:
A resource developed by UL Solutions, the UL Zero Waste to Landfill for the Food Industry (ZWTL) e-book provides an overview of waste diversion strategies for the food industry and information on how companies can measure and communicate their achievements confidently. The book outlines the ways that food waste can be diverted away from landfills and count toward a waste diversion rating, with insights into cost savings, risk mitigation, and how ZWTL can be applied to non-brick and mortar locations.
Another resource for the manufacturing industry, UL’s Zero Waste to Landfill for Manufacturing e-book provides an overview on how manufacturers can reduce waste going to landfills and relay information about their actions. The book provides insights into the benefits of reducing waste in manufacturing, how reducing waste can lead to cost savings, how waste diversion is calculated, and the validation process for waste diversion claims.
On a global standardization scale, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 323, Circular Economy, works on standardization in the field of circular economy to develop frameworks, guidance, supporting tools, and requirements for the implementation of activities of all involved organizations to maximize the contribution to sustainable development.
ISO reported last year that TC 323, created in 2018, will draft standards in parallel over three years. The standards will be published by the beginning of 2024. The number of member countries engaged with standards as part of TC 323 has grown from 40 to 85. ASTM International administers the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 323, which carries U.S. positions forward in the work of the committee.
Government Resources Also Support Zero Waste, Circular Economy
As part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) widescale effort to chart a path towards zero waste, EPA created a Managing and Transforming Waste Streams Tool to explore 100 policies and programs communities can implement to reduce the amount of waste disposed in landfills and promote waste prevention and materials reuse across waste generation sectors. People who use the interactive tool can access local government case studies on zero waste, contract and franchise agreements for waste haulers for transforming waste streams in communities, and program websites with more information.
In February 2023, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a report that highlights the outcomes from the workshop “Fostering a Circular Economy of Manufacturing Materials,” jointly organized by ASTM International and NIST, with key takeaways from the proceeding survey “Manufacturing in a Circular Economy” and next steps for addressing the standards needs identified in both. The report underscores ASTM International E60 committee on Sustainability efforts to identify technical standards needed for manufacturers to design and produce products for circularity, as well as integrate more diverse feedstocks into production capabilities.
ANSI Student Paper Competition: How Standards Support Sustainability
Students can put their ideas to paper by describing how specific standards support the UN SDGs, through the student paper competition run by ANSI in conjunction with its Committee on Education (CoE). The competition is open through June 2, 2023.
Not a student? Anyone can get involved in International Day of Zero Waste efforts. Join the conversation on social media using #ZeroWasteDay and #BeatWastePollution.