Our Waste Program engages companies on waste reduction through responsible production and recycling or composting of consumer products and packaging to preserve Earth's limited natural resources.
Why prioritize engaging companies on waste?
Major consumer brands put products and packaging into global commerce without sufficient regard for its end-of-life fate, contributing to a waste crisis. Fast food companies promote an especially wasteful disposable, throwaway culture.
More than half the world's population does not have access to regular trash collection, resulting in massive pollution of land and waterways, and open burning or incineration of trash in developing countries that produces toxic air pollution. Open dumps breed disease.
Even developed countries face huge challenges. In theory, more than 90% of American have access to some form of recycling, but nearly half may not be willing to pay for or have access to convenient curbside recycling collection.
Each American generates more than 4 pounds of trash per day, far more than most other countries. U.S. recycling rates lag many other developed countries. With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses a third of the world's paper, a quarter of the world's oil, and 27 percent of aluminum.
Unlike most other developed countries, recycling and trash collection in the U.S. is paid for almost entirely by citizens. In scores of other countries, producers that put waste into commerce must pay for some or all of these costs. We encourage companies to take more financial responsibility.
OUR WORK ON TV
We engage companies in the consumer packaging, carpet, and electronics sectors to move them towards more responsible practices such as:
- Maximizing the efficiency and productivity of resources used
- Designing product packaging to be recyclable or compostable
- Active engagement in improving recycling systems to ensure that recyclables get recycled
We recently expanded our work with a special program on plastic pollution to address the looming crisis of plastic waste escaping to litter land and pollute waterways. Plastic pollution is pollution oceans and threatening marine animals on a large scale. Scientists estimate there could be more degraded plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
You can find all our recent waste resolutions on our resolutions table.
Unique Original Research
2015: Ranking and benchmarking report on packaging sustainability in the beverage, fast food, and consumer goods sectors
2012: Original research concluding that $11 billion of recyclable materials are trashed annually
2006, 2008, 2011: Ranking reports and analysis on packaging sustainability in beverage sector.
Sustainable Development Goals
Our work directly promotes achievements of several U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation, Goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns, and Goal 14 on reducing ocean pollution.
Designed to Be Waste
Designed to be Waste addresses the issue of composite laminate/aluminum foil pouches and similar packaging that cannot be recycled and will be landfilled for hundreds of years. It is counterproductive to the development of a circular materials economy to use these unsustainable pouches when better alternatives have been around for decades. For more on As You Sow's work to get companies to phase out pouches and other unrecyclable packaging, read about our engagement with Kraft Foods and Mondelez International.