It is essential that civilization move from a linear economy, where the end game is the landfill, incinerator or the environment, to a circular economy where all materials are in a constant cycle of reuse. But there are economic systems and government interests that have invested half a century in the linear economy. Therefore it is our work to demonstrate circularity, business models of reuse, local production and zero waste packaging, and usher in a way of life that eliminates harm.
Linear VS Circular Economy
In nature the energy and matter from BIOLOGICAL MATERIALS flow from one organism to another in a continuous loop. Humans have invented many TECHNICAL MATERIALS that either are designed for infinite use in a circular economy, or they are designed to become waste without enough economic value for their materials in a linear economy, resulting in burial in a landfill, burned in an incinerator, or lost to the environment.
What is Zero Waste?
The EPA defines zero waste as: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.
Plastics is the LEAP LAB focus
We have published extensively on the issue of plastic pollution in the environment, both land and sea. With this foundation in science we advocate for science-based policies, support for innovative business solutions, new materials and product and packaging design.
Supporting local businesses that demonstrate reuse and reduction practices.
Supporting policy efforts with sound science, both with expert testimony and public education.
Demonstrate zero waste systems, from farmers markets that minimize packaging, to reusable materials in school cafeterias and restaurants.
An example of a
ZERO WASTE SCHOOL
In 2015 Thomas Star King Middle School students were no longer willing to send styrofoam trays, plastic utensils, straws and cups to the landfill. It was a direct contradiction to the lessons on stewardship they were learning in the classroom. They took action on their own.
The students took 1260 trays and strung them together. With the permission from the principal, they hung them in a tree, where it sat for 2 years, until the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District showed up.
Superintendent of LAUSD at the time, announced the entire school district would ban styrofoam trays and find a cost-competitive, environmentally responsible alternative. City Councilman Paul Koretz said. “… Our legislators can take inspiration from the wonderful students and parents of Thomas Starr King Middle School, who successfully called for LAUSD to change its policies and practices regarding polystyrene food trays, making LAUSD even more of an environmental leader among educational institutions.”
The school district found an alternative tray made from compostable material, and the new tray had a similar unit cost to styrofoam, but without the costly environmental consequences.
Two years later, six other school districts followed suit. This is an example of local action and a business solution that created a circular economy from a linear economic model, and then shared the success widely.