A Zero Waste Economy Benefits the Environment and the Economy

Closing-the-loopA report released on March 28 calls for a move to a zero waste economy in British Columbia, estimating that more aggressive reduction and recycling of consumer goods could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 5 million tonnes by 2020 and 6.2 million tonnes by 2040. A “closed loop system”, in which products like appliances would be repaired and reused for as long as possible, and finally recycled or reused in new products, would also benefit local economies by creating decent green jobs in repair, servicing and maintenance, waste management in sophisticated collection and sorting systems, as well as re-manufacturing and recycling activities. Based on research carried out in the US, UK and Europe, the authors estimate that “100% recycling of B.C.’s waste, with all sourcing and processing done locally, would support 12,300 direct jobs. With an existing provincial diversion rate of 43%, this would mean about 7,000 new direct jobs. In addition to these, there are also potential jobs gains in the more labour-intensive repair and refurbishment of products.”

“Because there may be job losses from reduced resource extraction and landfilling and incineration practices, “just transition” programs will be needed that facilitate new skills development. On balance, it is anticipated that job creation impacts would be larger than losses, but policy should actively seek to create those jobs by developing the sectors cited above. Promoting and supporting unionized workforces would push green jobs to ensure decent wages and working conditions.”

LINK
Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Creating Green Jobs through Zero Waste in B.C. by Marc Lee, Sue Maxwell, Ruth Legg, and William Rees is available at the Climate Justice Project of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (B.C. Office) at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC%20Office/2013/03/CCPA-BC-Zero-Waste.pdf 

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