Introduction to the Zero Landfill Concept

The concept of “Zero Landfill” was created by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) and environmental sustainability advocates as a response to the growing concern over improper solid waste management. The central idea is to minimize, as much as possible, the amount of waste sent to landfills. This approach seeks to reimagine production and consumption processes to reduce waste generation, promote recycling and material reuse, and thus contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment.

The goal of Zero Landfill is clear: to drastically reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills, promoting a more sustainable lifecycle for products. Companies that adopt this goal demonstrate a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability.

Companies that Can Pursue Zero Landfill

Various types of companies can adopt the Zero Landfill practice, from manufacturing industries to service sector companies. Large corporations, such as electronics, automotive, food, and beverage manufacturers, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, can benefit from this practice.

Pursuing Zero Landfill brings multiple benefits to companies. Firstly, it promotes a positive corporate image, aligned with the growing consumer expectations for sustainable practices. Secondly, it can result in cost savings through waste reduction and resource optimization. Furthermore, by reducing reliance on landfills, companies can avoid fees and fines associated with improper waste disposal.

The Zero Landfill Controversy

Despite the benefits, the concept of Zero Landfill is not without controversy. A common criticism is the mistaken perception that “zero waste” means literally no waste sent to landfills. In reality, achieving a true Zero Landfill is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Instead, the goal is to divert more than 90% of waste from landfills.

Companies committed to Zero Landfill work to minimize their waste as much as possible, but there will always be a small fraction that may not be recyclable or reusable. Therefore, the term “Zero Landfill” should be understood as an aspirational goal that encourages continuous improvement and innovation in waste management practices.

Benefits for the Environment and Population

The benefits of Zero Landfill for the environment and society are substantial. Reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills helps decrease soil and water pollution, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the decomposition of organic waste in landfills.

For the population, this means improved air and water quality, as well as a reduction in health problems related to pollution. Additionally, the creation of a robust market for recyclable materials can generate jobs and stimulate technological innovation.

Incineration of Waste as an Alternative

Waste incineration is another solution for waste reduction, involving the controlled burning of discarded materials, transforming them into ashes and gases. Contrary to the common perception that it is harmful when conducted responsibly and under strict environmental regulations, incineration can offer a range of benefits for both the environment and public health. A notable example is UTD Suzano, where approximately 10 million kilograms of hazardous waste have been diverted from landfills in the past 10 years, significantly contributing to environmental preservation.

Redesigning Production Processes

To achieve Zero Landfill, companies need to redesign their production processes, adopting a circular economy approach. This involves creating systems that allow for efficient reuse and recycling of materials. From product design to end-of-life, each stage must be planned to minimize waste generation.

According to the Instituto Lixo Zero Brasil, “the Zero Waste concept consists of maximum utilization and correct routing of recyclable and organic waste and reducing the routing of these materials to landfills and/or incineration.”

Economic Value and Competitiveness

Beyond environmental benefits, waste reuse can add value to businesses. Implementing sustainable practices can create new revenue opportunities, whether through the sale of recyclable materials or the development of new products from waste. Additionally, sustainable companies tend to be more competitive in the market, meeting the growing demand for responsible business practices.


To achieve the Zero Landfill goal, companies need to invest in an effective waste management system that includes continuous analysis, diagnosis, and monitoring. Only through a serious and sustained commitment to sustainability can the concept of Zero Landfill be transformed into a reality beneficial for the environment, society, and businesses.