What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a set of policies and goals, based on the concept of “waste as a resource” and is part is a sustainable solution for our island's economy. Zero Waste, first and foremost, is a different way of thinking about solid waste. It is a truly “integrated” waste management system in which each material that is recovered from the waste stream is seen as a resource and managed according to its unique properties and economic potential. Instead of managing waste we manage resources and strive to eliminate waste. This changes the way we view the materials and products we consume each day.

Rather than looking at our production systems as one way and linear, we can redesign them to be cyclical, as in nature, where there is no such thing as “waste” and materials are kept in the production cycle. Zero Waste is emerging as a paradigm shift, a new, comprehensive socio-technical system that addresses our resource use from product design to disposal.

Zero Waste is a design principle for the 21st century. A system where instead of buy, use, then throw away, we focus on:

  • Reducing: Not creating waste in the first place ... Reducing consumption, minimizing packaging, buying in bulk, buying longer lasting durable goods,
  • Reusing: Finding another home for things we no longer want or need, or finding new uses for things that are no longer suitable for their original purpose.
  • Recycling: Turning our discards into new products. Saving energy and conserving valuable natural resources.

Zero Waste is not is a simplistic solution to a complex problem. It's not something that someone else can do for you. Zero waste is not about getting to zero. It is about being on the path to zero.

The County has recently adopted a Zero Waste Resolution calling upon all County agencies, residents, businesses, and visitors to adopt Zero Waste practices to meet the goal of 70% diversion by the year 2023. A downloadable version of the resolution is attached here. 

A volunteer organization, Zero Waste Kauaʻi , is actively pursuing Zero Waste strategies. For more information, visit their website at:

PDF icon Zero Waste Resolution