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Carbon Neutral – Zero Waste – Upcycle

A pair of footprints in the sand


#carbon neutral #net zero #terminology #upcycle #zero waste


Taylor Heagler

“Carbon neutral” means causing zero net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the manufacturing process, shipping, or otherwise, in producing and delivering products. The overall goal is limiting greenhouse gas across all scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions to create a balanced state. This can be achieved by calculating carbon footprints, employing sustainable practices upstream and downstream, and potentially including offsetting through a carbon credit or similar.

A trendy tag line for sustainable lifestyle content, “zero waste”, is the conservation of resources by means of responsible production, the use, reuse, and recovery of products –including packaging and transport emissions. The core idea behind zero waste is to move towards a cycle that does not end with a product or packaging in a landfill. It would be beneficial for zero waste principles to be required by legislation and regulation. A growing number of companies and even communities have implemented “zero waste” principles into their lifestyle and value chain.

“Upcycling” is the process of modifying old products to give them a new life. For example, textile waste is a huge CO2 emissions creator and often ends up polluting water systems, but fabric can be reused. Sustainably minded clothing brands (such as Patagonia) apply the concept of upcycling by dissembling their old textiles to be reused in a new product. Know how to sew? Upcycling is a great way to amp up your wardrobe by reusing old clothing and turning it into something new.

Industrial upcycling is when manufacturers reuse something that would be considered waste by re-entering the product into new customer cycles. One example that could have a major impact in emission reduction is Sustainable Aviation Fuel whereby waste is turned into a fuel additive. The company TerraCycle has a waste collection program for items that cannot be easily recycled, turning what would be waste into everyday items like park benches or tote bags. Upcycling can also make a great DIY project, such as furniture making or decorative arts.

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