Zero Waste: Can We Do It?

With many traditional methods of waste disposal struggling to keep up with the modern rate of production, it is surely time for change.

Following the news last year that Unilever became the first global company to achieve zero-waste, it is now unquestionably true that it is certainly achievable - and it is definitely an encouraging sight to see. This (should) prompt other global businesses to take note and move towards a circular waste-free economy.

Unfortunately, in our modern global society, we have a long way to go before the linear “take, make, consume and dispose” way of thinking is quashed completely. Currently the reality is a stark 11.2bn tonnes of landfill waste already accumulated, with the figure growing at an alarming annual rate.

With such bleak numbers it is obvious that a linear “throw away” approach is not a viable option, and it is this issue that is being addressed by both countries and companies alike.

This is the case - as by recycling waste, and then reselling the recycled waste, companies have discovered a new stream of revenue that both increases social responsibility and lowers their carbon footprint.

What is plain to see is that this one time environmental dream has fast become not only reality but also a major business necessity, as business surges towards a regenerative circular economy.

With Unilever claiming to be the first global company to achieve this goal of zero waste in all of its 240 factories in 67 countries, they have done so through a number of different schemes. For instance, in Cote D’Ivoire waste is turned into affordable buildings and in India organic waste is composted and shared with the local community. Similarly to the scheme in Cote D’Ivoire, in China the biggest of Unilever’s factories in Asia uses waste to manufacture bricks and paving.

Despite such successes, it is very clear that the global business community still has an extraordinary way to go to achieve global zero-waste, but as more businesses start to favour a circular model the challenge is one step closer to becoming realised.