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Eliminating the concept of waste

Jenita  |  04/05/11 @ 4:15pm

[img_assist|nid=9347|title=Zero Waste NEO|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=150]

The Zero Waste NEO network has a vision for Northeast Ohio to become a zero waste region by the year 2019. Network members understand that the mission fits the definition of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), but through reducing, reusing, recycling, redesigning and re-thinking, by 2019 Northeast Ohio will be well on its way. The Zero Waste NEO network was created by Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S) in 2009 and has grown in part from the 2009 and 2010 Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summits.

"When the first summit happened, the network was fairly new and interested members, like me, got involved in Zero Waste NEO," Matthew Pietro, a member of the Zero Waste NEO core group, said. "E4S has strengthened the network and the Summit has helped to support it". 

Zero Waste NEO is driven by the 9-member core group, which is always open to new teammates who would like to take a proactive role as advocates for the zero waste mission.  Zero Waste NEO focuses mainly on reducing and eliminating waste in the business sector and has two entry points, the online Ning networking site which has nearly 300 members and in-person networking events and best practices workshops. 

In 2010, the network reached more than 100 business stakeholders when they hosted events focused on a variety of waste reduction topics including zero waste for small businesses, zero waste for large systems, plastics, fiber and composting. The reach of the network is quickly expanding in part because of a grant E4S received from the Environmental Protection Agency to expand the program with waste reduction workshops in 2011. The grant will help Zero Waste NEO businesses perform waste reduction strategies and allow the group to market the network more effectively. The group refers to materials management as the "gateway to sustainability" because it is a relatively simple concept to understand initially. However, once a business starts to manage its resources responsibly, employees end up recognizing complex sustainability issues throughout the organization.

Pietro said that the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Initiative has helped to create a sense of urgency because of the yearly summits, the celebration years and the countdown to 2019.

"Now is the time to take action. We see real action taking place because there is a directive that helps people to become engaged," he said.  "Today we have more than 30 businesses that have declared zero waste goals through the Zero Waste NEO network."

2014 will be the Year of Zero Waste in Northeast Ohio. By then, he hopes to see hundreds if not thousands of examples in the region of businesses striving towards zero waste by setting extreme or zero waste reduction goals.

"It is a challenging task to eliminate the concept of waste, but there are businesses out there already taking part in it," he said.

Zero Waste NEO is hosting workshops for organizations to learn tools and strategies to immediately reduce the cost of waste and to set goals that will result in zero waste. Sessions will be held April 27 and May 25 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. For more information, email info@e4s.org or call (216) 451-7755.

Visit www.zerowasteneo.org to learn more and to get involved.<-->

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