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Waste to profit builds post-summit

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/31/09 @ 4:39pm

A group from the Cleveland 2019 Sustainability Summit that wants to convert waste into profit met last week with members of the Entrepreneurs for Sustainability Zero Waste Network. The groups are interested in a zero waste conference next year, and in supporting the launch of a deconstruction and resale centerin a repurposed warehouse space in Cleveland.

"We're thinking of calling it Wastipedia," Mike Dungan, a local leader in the effort to reduce waste through his company, BeeDance, and the waste reduction effort, Zerolandfill Cleveland, explained about the center. "It's based on a 'crowdsourcing' approach where people tell us what kind of products they want. We would sort and train people how to deconstruct and have working artisans on the premises."

The group is fielding interest from city officials who are proposing sites, Dungan added, and they will submit a Civic Innovation Lab grant this week for start up costs. "Our primary need is funding and site selection. We're putting together an RFP for site selection."

The Zero Waste and Waste to Profit summit group also intend to create a strategic plan for how the region eliminates the very concept of waste.

They will start by researching leading cities such as Austin, Seattle, Oakland and Boulder, all of which have adopted zero waste strategies. Some examples of leading waste reduction practices at the municipal level include full-cost analysis of waste programs (to compare all of the costs affiliated with landfill to recycling programs), Swap Shops and Pay as You Throw (customers are charged by weight, by volume, or by a combination of the two per unit of garbage disposed).

Goals may be general such as Seattle's to increase the recycling percentage of construction and demolition debris or, as the Cleveland group pictured, developing a closed-loop system that creates opportunities to harvest resources from waste.

Wastipedia could be one solution, a center for zero waste businesses, such as A Piece of Cleveland, that are recycling construction debris into products, and the Zerolandfill group which is finding new users to repurpose waste such as art schools, and building off of the success of local models like the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.

Regulatory barriers need to be underscored, said a staffer at OEPA. "I see a lot of stuff getting dumped such as deep well injecting chromium out of waste water from metal stamping operations. I don't know why it's so hard to get it out rather than buying it again and again from Russia, but as soon as you separate it, you need a Part B Hazardous Waste permit."

Cities with zero waste strategies

Zero Waste organizations

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