Benefits of Zero Waste

Zero waste protects the environment, benefits communities and supports a strong local economy.  


Zero waste reduces our climate impact.

Reducing, reusing and recycling can be a key part of a climate change strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. EPA has estimated roughly 42% of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the production and use of goods, including food, products and packaging.3 Reducing, reusing and recycling will conserve that energy and dramatically reduce our carbon emissions.

Zero waste conserves resources and minimizes pollution.

Our current culture of consumption is unsustainable. Extracting raw materials from natural spaces requires large amounts of energy and causes pollution, whether it is logging a forest, mining for minerals or drilling for oil. Processing these materials requires more energy and causes more pollution. Once they’re used, the goods are simply dumped in a landfill or destroyed in an incinerator.

In contrast, a zero waste approach conserves natural resources and reduces pollution from extraction, manufacturing and disposal. Reducing and reusing means fewer products are made, as people buy less and as products are made to last. Recycling keeps waste out of landfills and incinerators and provides manufacturers with recycled instead of raw materials to make new goods.


Zero waste promotes social equity and builds community.

A zero waste approach can build community capacity, support marginalized communities and protect community health.

Community groups, and small businesses have solutions to help Toronto get to zero waste while also building community capacity and addressing social inequities.

Community projects focused on reuse help redistribute useful goods to those in need, from leftover food donated to shelters, to furniture for refugees, to business clothing for those entering the job market.

Community-based zero waste strategies like composting at a community garden, tool sharing and skills sharing to reuse and repair, build capacity to reduce waste and costs.

A zero waste strategy needs to ensure everyone has access to tools to reduce, reuse and recycle waste where they live, work and play. This allows everyone to participate in protecting our environment.

A zero waste approach also protects the health of communities by reducing pollution in the air, water and soil by keeping toxics and waste out of landfills and incinerators.


Zero waste supports a local circular economy and creates jobs

A zero waste Toronto builds a circular economy, where one person’s “waste” is a resource for something new. This creates good, green jobs as resources are endlessly recirculated through our economy instead of being used once and then disposed or destroyed.

Ontario’s recycling, composting and diversion programs create 10 times more jobs than disposal.6 Green jobs are created in collecting and handling recyclable materials and processing at local recyclers, waste depots and compost facilities.

Reducing and reusing materials create even more jobs in rental and sharing businesses (e.g. car-sharing, tool rental), repair and tailoring, and reuse businesses. Local money is spent on local jobs and stays within the community instead of leaving the community to buy imported products.

Zero waste needs businesses to play a key role

Right now, Torontonians pay most of the costs of our waste system through waste fees. The Province’s new Waste Free Ontario Strategy sets a clear “zero waste” goal and new rules that will build a circular economy and eliminate waste. A key part of this is requiring companies that import or make products and packaging take responsibility for the waste from those products. Called ‘extended producer responsibility’, this gives companies an incentive to reduce packaging, and make their products more durable, or easier to recycle. This will drive innovation for a circular resource economy and save residents money.

On Blue Bin materials alone, extended producer responsibility will save the City of Toronto up to $30 Million each year on collecting, sorting and processing materials.