Palmer also has a web site -- Getting to Zero Waste -- which tries to get practical about the sort of campaign that is needed to change these approaches around.
If you want to get a handle on the issue, there w as an excellent four part series on ABC Radio National which reviewed the way waste is wasted. It's well worth a listen. You can also read the transcripts.
The state of California is leading the way in waste management and recycling in the USA. San Francisco is out in front, with an ambitious target of zero waste by 2020. Already the city diverts more than 65 per cent of all rubbish away from landfill and into recycling and reuse.
Incineration — burning everything down to ashes, is how the world deals with much of its waste. It’s dirty and a serious health risk, but profitable for waste companies with little conscience. So which country first took the brave step of banning incineration? The answer might surprise you: the Philippines. Lynne Malcolm meets the community organisations and local politicians who passionately campaigned for the historic ban and environmental reform of waste management policy.
Until recently Japan had one solution to waste: burn it. Over 1800 incinerators burned the country’s 50 million tonnes of solid waste each year. Recycling exists but even some of that ends up in the incinerators. Japan is the consumer culture par excellence and the real struggle for zero waste will be over how to persuade people to buy less in the first place. Not easy when shopping is a national pastime.
China is the industrial success story of the last decade and looks set to continue for years to come. It’s also likely to become the global environmental villain, unless its scientists can find a solution to waste and pollution. The government has pinned its hopes on greener, cleaner technology, having made a Kyoto-style energy research pact with countries such as Australia and the United States. Rather than trying to enforce recycling policies across the whole country, China hopes that science will pull them out of the hole. Will this be enough to stem the rise of an increasingly hungry consumer culture?