Global Expertise Delivers Optimistic Plan for Zero Waste World
An enthusiastic audience of more than 500 delegates gathered at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre for Metro Vancouver’s 5th annual Zero Waste Conference held on Thursday, Oct 29th, 2015. Presenters from around the globe delivered key insights into zero waste principles and the circular economy – offering a promising vision for the economy and environment.
For the first time, a satellite conference was hosted in Toronto, by the city of Toronto’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy, held in conjunction with the Metro Vancouver event. Delegates were able to participate via a two-way livestream of the events. Zero Waste Conference participants included ‘start-ups’, major corporations, and government. The presenters were equally diverse, ranging from big picture visionaries to leading edge entrepreneurs who are already embracing zero waste ambitions.
Cradle-to-Cradle Keynote Brings Big Ideas
The morning keynote speech featured author, architect, and designer William McDonough, renowned for his book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (with Dr. Michael Braungart) and his radical reimagining of how we make, use, and dispose of things. He offered an inspiring vision for a fundamental shift in our manufacturing and consumption of goods, delivering a wide-ranging and thought-provoking presentation; encouraging the audience to revolutionize business, daring them to rethink the very words they use around waste, and challenging them deliver a better, cleaner world to future generations.
“What if we made the goal not just to have zero (waste), or make the world less bad, but actually to do something that was positive?” said McDonough, highlighting a shift in mindset he believes is a key component of cradle-to-cradle design. “The challenge is (to) change business from the question of how much can I get for how little I give – the question of meanness, greed, and limits, to the question of generosity and abundance – how much can we give for all that we get? What does it mean to share? It lets us ask fundamental questions – like what does it mean to make the world better instead of just less bad?”
Zero Waste Gathering Gets Credit for Changing Landscape
The alarming impact of food waste was another topic highlighted during the conference. Global food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart, from the organization Feedback, recounted how they have been working to raise awareness around the world to show how food waste in developed nations ripples all the way down to subsistence farmers. His talk was followed by a panel of food waste experts addressing the role consumers can play, how changing their own habits and asking the industry to respond can reduce wasteful food practices.
In his opening remarks to the conference, Metro Vancouver Board Chair Greg Moore noted the real world impact the conference is already having on food waste in the region.
“The direction that is given during this conference has resulted in real policy changes. At the first conference in Burnaby, getting organics out of the waste stream emerged as key concern. What resulted from that was one of the most aggressive organics bans that we’ve ever seen. Now we see that we have organics bans throughout this region, not just in single family or multi-family, but in all sectors. And that’s because of this conference, because the people in the room told us it should be a number one priority so that’s what we did.”
Eco-Friendly Frameworks Come from Big Business and Sharing Start-ups
An impressive list of companies from around the world participated in the 2015 Zero Waste Conference. A broad range of industries was represented, from the small, early-adopting success stories of the sharing economy to retail giants such as Loblaws, Walmart, and IKEA Canada, whose president Stefan Sjöstrand delivered the afternoon keynote. Highlighting the Swedish furniture giant’s efforts to bring cradle-to-cradle thinking to their operation through careful measurement of the sustainability factors that go into all their products, Sjöstrand ended his presentation by describing IKEA’s image of its own role in a rapidly evolving economy. ”
“Our vision is to create a better life for many people and we know that IKEA can and will be a positive force in society with sustainability at the heart of doing good business.”
Future Sights Set on Circular Economy
Businesses are being asked to rethink their purpose, redefine their goals, and deliver economic opportunity within the eco-friendly framework of the circular economy.
Conference host Malcolm Brodie, Metro Vancouver director and chair of National Zero Waste Council left the audience with this call to action.
“I would like to ask each and every one of us to rise to the challenge that was presented at the conference – to do everything possible realize a Future Without Waste. It is only through innovation and collective action that this goal can be fully realized.”
Thanks to all the participants in this year’s conference. Remember to subscribe to the blog to stay up-to-date as we present highlights of this year’s events and confirm the speakers and topics that will be a part of the next Zero Waste Conference.