According to a 2021 Food Waste Index Report by the United Nations, 17% of global food production goes to waste, becoming the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. 11% of this waste is generated by households, not only contributing to the climate crisis, but also provoking large economic costs, biodiversity loss, and the rise of pollution levels at unprecedented rates. Therefore, considering the key role that architecture and design plays in providing more eco-friendly housing options, it is essential to adopt and enhance a more self-sustaining, zero-waste approach.
Zero-Waste: The Latest Architecture and News
Italian architecture practice Spacelab designed an energy self-sufficient shelter for temporary use, a parametric project that can be built without foundations on any site, leaving no trace and no damage to the site at the end of its life cycle. Named Zero in reference to the lack of waste during construction or removal and its zero-emissions operation, the structure can be demounted and reassembled multiple times, tapping into issues of circular economy, impermanence and reuse.
Australian research lab Finding Infinity has collaborated with architects, councils and investors to create a strategy that would turn Melbourne into a self-sufficient city by 2030. Building on exemplary case studies and scientific research, the initiative proposes a 10 step plan for the city’s transition from a consumer of resources to a zero-carbon urban environment.
Nestled in the steep gorges and river valleys of Japan’s Tokushima prefecture is Kamikatsu - a small town seemingly like any other. But Kamikatsu, unlike its neighbors (or indeed, most towns in the world), is nearly entirely waste-free.
Since 2003 - years before the movement gained widespread popularity - the town has committed to a zero-waste policy. The requirements are demanding: waste must be sorted in more than 30 categories, broken or obsolete items are donated or stripped for parts, unwanted items are left in a store for community exchange. But the residents’ efforts over the years have paid off- nearly 80% of all the village’s waste is recycled.