Zero Waste Conference

Last Wednesday, Metro Van held its annual Zero Waste conference yesterday with the theme of ‘re-thinking our waste’.

The conference focused on 2 areas:

  1. Cradle to Cradle design and innovation for a circular, closed loop economy
  2. The problem of food waste, both ‘pre-consumer’ (i.e. food that expires or we throw out before it gets to our plates) and ‘post-consumer’ ( i.e. prep remnants, plate scraping and leftovers) for Metro’s 2015 food scrap bans in the landfill

Keynote speakers included Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org), Richard Swanell, Director or WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme – www.wrap.org.uk), Dr Michael Braungart, founder and scientific CEO of EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency – www.epea-hamburg.org).

Both Dame Ellen and Richard Swan addressed the conference from the UK via Skype. The former spoke about our finite resources and the urgent need for circular economy. The latter shared their campaign to educate and guide UK consumers on reducing and eliminating wasted food from the consumer perspective (see www.lovefoodhatewaste.com)

Dr Braungart delivered his keynote in person to the conference, focusing on Cradle to Cradle economy and how we must use product design to improve product sustainability footprint and environmental impact, not just reduce and mitigate it. Braungart challenged the zero waste conference by asking:

‘Why do we want to just focus on ‘zero waste’, when we can do so much better than ‘zero’?

Through intelligent and aesthetic design, we can actually create positive, circular models of material flow, using the existing biological and technical nutrients already in our production and consumption loops – a positive influence that is so much better than stretching to just get to ‘zero’.

For more on all of the speakers and the conference check out Metro’s website www.metrovancouver.org/zwc and video.