An Impossible Ideal: The Use and Misuse of Zero Waste


Our misplaced loyalty to economic growth and our focus on industrial development have resulted in significant harm to the environment—something we desperately need to address. Yet many wonder if zero waste is a realistic goal or merely a pipe dream. Starting from an analysis of the laws of thermodynamics, this article argues that it is an impossible ideal. But if zero waste is not the solution, what can we do? Tian Song proposes that, along with the principles of the circular economy and reform of modern economic systems, the idea of zero waste can provide valuable insights into how we could establish a future ecological civilization.