The purpose of this section is to provide readers with an overview of the linear waste economy, its negative consequences, and the importance of creating a circular, zero waste, and low-carbon economy. Current efforts to distribute the costs of recycling by integrating additional stakeholders is key, but Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, whereby manufacturers, importers and distributors bear a portion of the environmental costs of a product, have seen limited adoption in their current form and are centralized. Taxes and “pay-as-you-throw” (PAYT) programs on their own have also witnessed limited success.

The creation of a circular, post-consumer and post-industrial zero waste, low-carbon economy requires the introduction of market forces and incentives at the individual and business level. Businesses must be provided an incentive to think in terms of cost and environmental savings from reuse and recycling, to produce goods that are more durable and designed to be recycled, and to source recycled inputs rather than raw materials. Individuals must trust that their sorting efforts are leading to successful recycling and incentives should be created to maximize participation. High performance recycling is critical to the ultimate goal of decoupling economic growth from consumption of limited natural resources, and to the preservation of a planet capable of sustaining life for future generations.