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Eliminating waste isn’t just a way to keep plastic out of the oceans — it’s also a climate solution.

In a new report released on Monday, the anti-waste nonprofit Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, or GAIA, says that zero-waste practices like composting could help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and create more climate-resilient communities. According to its analysis of waste collection practices in eight cities around the world, a zero-waste strategy that combines composting, recycling, and production cuts could reduce the global waste sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 84 percent, or more than 1.4 billion metric tons per year — the equivalent of removing all cars from U.S. roadways.

“The results are really quite promising,” said Neil Tangri, GAIA’s science and policy director and the lead author of the report. 

Most of the modeled emissions savings come from reducing and managing organic waste — things like food scraps and grass clippings that release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, when they decompose. Food waste alone is responsible for some 10 percent of global climate pollution, and Tangri called it the “elephant in the... Read more

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