Zero Waste to Landfill: an Unacknowledged Supermegaproject

Robert Krausz, Kenneth FD Hughey, Roy Montgomery


Zero Waste is a global movement focused on replacing linear resource-to-waste systems with circular systems found elsewhere in nature, and Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWtL) is a specific interpretation implying the total elimination of residual disposal. Local governments worldwide have declared ZWtL goals with specific deadlines; however, to date none of these initiatives have proven successful. A grounded case study of ZWtL campaigns was conducted to investigate this chronic failure. The results indicate that ZWtL is an unacknowledged supermegaproject: requiring extremely deep and unprecedented change and sacrifice across all sectors, yet destined for failure because proponents fail to recognize the scope of the task and plan accordingly. Strategies for addressing waste upstream are critically absent, with insufficient downstream measures such as recycling the prevailing norm – reinforced by a consistent preference for technical solutions over fundamental behavior change.

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