Paul's Picture on contact page

Paul Palmer, director
Northern California

Paul Palmer is a chemist with a PhD from Yale. After a stint teaching in Turkey and Denmark and some business experience abroad, he came to the Bay Area where he noticed that the newly emerging Silicon Valley was using many chemicals that they were discarding even though they still seemed to be fairly pure. He got a sample of a discarded solvent mixture called “developer/rinse”, established that the components were xylene and butyl acetate, realized that both of those solvents were expensive components of lacquer thinner and formed a company to market this perfectly clean “waste product” as lacquer thinner. As the company prospered, they grew to 20 employees and two locations and they learned to make use of every chemical that Silicon Valley discarded. These included such solvents as perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, isopropyl alcohol, freon TF (trichlorotrifluoroethane)  and acids including hydrochloric, sulfuric and nitric and many ancillary products such as gold tabs, silk screens and circuit board scraps. There were etchants like cupric etch, tools such as silver ink, and other chemicals too numerous to mention. When it was learned that perfectly usable laboratory chemicals were being discarded by the carload, the new company began to take all manner of lab chemicals for resale. The company was named Zero Waste Systems Inc. which was the first formal use in the world of the new term Zero Waste. ZWS achieved a worldwide reputation and was the subject of a number of official studies. It was the only company in the world that developed generic methods to reuse all chemicals, rather than just some narrow category. The term Zero Waste has been borrowed by all manner of others to denote many low-level, ineffective and wasteful processes, often referred to as “zero waste to landfill”. The reader should not confuse these derivative notions of waste management with the high aspirations of Zero Waste theory presented in this website.

When ZWS ceased operations (for non-business reasons) Palmer continued for twenty years to solve problems that chemical using companies encountered with mistaken mixtures, returned products and off-specification chemicals. He distilled the experience of decades into a book which is sold on this website and created this website to present the methods of Zero Waste to the world.

Here is one fact that should be nagging at anyone reading this page. While ZWS was in business, it took perfectly fine, often brand new and unopened, laboratory chemicals from all over for productive resale. Now that ZWS is not operating, thousands of drums all over the country and the world are being filled up with those same bottles, a filler is added, the drum is closed and the drum with its chemicals is being buried at the bottom of a chemical dump to remain for some unspecified time until something disturbs them, they slowly react with each other, the drum and the bottles are broken and they become “pollution”. Why does this happen? Greed, by the garbage companies who are paid enormous sums for burying the chemicals. Collusion, by the regulating agencies who set up this profitable system. Laziness, by the public who just can’t be bothered, and irresponsibility by environmentalists who are afraid of solving problems rather than just yelling “toxic warning” at potential members.

When ZWS stopped its work, no one stepped up from the regulators or the public or the chemical users to call for finding some way to continue such a valuable public contribution to avoiding the very source of pollution. Solving problems gets short shrift in our society. It is much better to create problems, then charge money for applying inadequate and ineffective clean ups. What a shame!

ZWI is a non-profit corporation organized in 2007. Like they say, we didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. Actually we were under the sponsorship of an umbrella non-profit called Pacific Bridge Institute but we lost the connection. Do you swing a non-profit that could sponsor us under your tax deductible status? We meet all the criteria but need the formal designation. Until then, donation and membership checks should be made out to Paul Palmer and mailed to:

Please tell us who you are, where is your home base, are you with an institution and at what level and how you are interested in Zero Waste.

Applications? Theory? Methods? Website improvement? Other?

[text* your-name]

[ “Send”]

or send an email to Paul Palmer at The Zero Waste Institute home base is in Vacaville California.

The Zero Waste Institute has developed and pioneered a form of business survey that belongs in every Environmental Impact Report except that waste is so ingrained in this society that eliminating it is not considered a positive goal. But it is and should be. We are available to do a Zero Discard Impact Report for your business.

Received funds will be used wisely and well for promoting Zero Waste, you may be sure.

22 thoughts on “CONTACT US”

  1. I am a professor &Hod (Electrical, Electronic Engineer) who has published papers on
    *Waste to energy*. Hyderabad is going for 50 MW power generation from
    I am a retired power generation Engineer. for Thermal Power.
    now working on msw/garbage to electricity through RDF fuel and thermal root
    kirankumar jain
    prof&Hod EEE dept
    91 93921 84 193 (India) 91 40 40206076

  2. Good Day Bro .. your new website looks great. Also I am speaking at a gathering of the “Green New Deal” in San Rafael on Friday evening .. I would like to print out your letter to the Editor of Sci Am … do I have your permission?

    Good Outcome at Sonoma Supes last night!

    I am trying to rid myself of wasted efforts — thinking about resigning from Marin LTF — it just too hopeless.

    Take care and best to you

  3. Thanks for talking about this. Good message on your blog. I was reading your message and I have bookmarked your blog.

  4. To Kiran Kumar:
    I am sorry to hear that Hyderabad has drunk the garbage koolaid. Garbage is not a resource, to be exploited. It is merely the external manifestation of a broken system. Garbage needs to be completely eliminated, not used in any way. By investing in this kind of electrical generation, Hyderabad is committing itself to encourage garbage generation for decades more than it has to. When the civilized world is eliminating garbage creation, Hyderabad will find it has an incentive to get its citizens to continue creating it. This is a backward looking, deplorable policy.

    I wish that you were using your knowledge to create solar thermal systems instead.

  5. This post is really the freshest on this valuable topic. I go along with your conclusions and can desperately anticipate your future updates. Saying thanks will not be enough, for the great clarity in your writing. I will immediately grab your rss feed to stay abreast of any updates. Authentic work and much success!

  6. “Give Your Stuff Away Day” – the World’s Largest Giveaway

    A bright red toaster appeared in my house recently, a new purchase. I have no problem with the red toaster – it’s the old one that irks me. It’s stored on a shelf, taking up space.

    Our toasting needs are clearly met by the new model, yet we clutter our home with the old one. Wouldn’t it be cool if someone magically knocked on our door, asking “Got any old toasters?”

    We also own other stuff we never use – clothes that don’t fit, out of style shoes, books already read, prom dresses, unused coats, CD’s, and other household items.

    No big deal, but multiply this stuff by America and we’re talking millions of items, worth billions, just wasting away.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if we could magically shift ownership of all this stuff, in one weekend, all over America, with close to zero effort, at no cost?

    Cool happens all over America (and beyond) on May 15, 2010. It’s called Give Your Stuff Away Day and it will work (almost) like magic, as long as you help promote the idea and follow procedures about acceptable / prohibited items.

    Here are the details – on May 15, we bring to our curbs, items of value we no longer want. No trash, no recyclables, no illegal or dangerous items, no food, drugs, chemicals, or weapons of any kind. Just safe, solid, valuable items we would like to donate to others. At the same time, millions of people will be driving, riding, or walking around picking up free items. Instantly, the world’s largest giveaway – very cool.

    You’ll feel good because you uncluttered a bit and helped a neighbor. Others will be happy obtaining some free items. Landfills will shrink a bit and the economy will spark up a tiny bit.

    It’s not really magic – there will be a bit of a mess in some neighborhoods for awhile. And in the short run, refuse hauling expenses will increase (but will shrink in the long run). We’ll also experience some additional traffic. Think of Christmas – a wonderful time of year, but messy.

    Speaking of special days, Give Your Stuff Away Day is similar to Halloween. Lots of people participating in small ways to help lots of others. Many logistics to manage in a small amount of time, but because we’re all aware of it, and because we recognize its value, it goes off without a hitch.

    Give Your Stuff Away Day is not a government program. Let’s keep it citizen-based, and let the government solve bigger problems.

    But let’s also be responsible by:
    • informing our local municipalities of our intent to participate
    • asking local governments for a waiver to ordinances that might prohibit this activity
    • placing at our curbs only items that others could use
    • retrieving items not picked up within a couple of days

    Want to help?
    • Forward this email to family and friends
    • Write a small article or letter to the editor
    • Contact your local government and let them know you want to participate
    • Help sponsor Give Your Stuff Away Day

    Have fun on May 15th, and stop by if you need a toaster.


  7. your blog looks awesome! Keep up the great work. I found you on Google. Your blog keeps me motivated to building mine helping people with easy tax write-offs. Keep it up! 🙂

  8. Thank you for this Information about recycling and zero waste. I often read here…

  9. Thank you very much for useful information you provided on reuse! Keep up the good work! 😉

  10. I like your zero waste post. I’m glad Google pointed me to it. I was able to get the information I was looking so badly for days now. Many thanks for your lovely writing. Regards, Emily Savinar

  11. Many thanks for writing such an interesting post. In other blogs, I seem to read the same thing and it gets boring. Thanks.

  12. I’ve been looking for this exact information on this subject for a long time. Bookmarked and recommended!

  13. I completely understand what your stance is in this matter. Although I would disagree on some of the finer details, I think you did an awesome job explaining it. Sure beats having to research it on my own. Thanks

  14. This is very good information post. I just roughly read through your post. I will come back to read tonight. Regards.

  15. Solar panels, in my eyes, are one of the best investments a home owner could make due to them lasting for many years and producing energy for as long as they last. The price of electricity will only go up so solar panels will only become a better investment.

    I think you are basically right, but I urge people not to get stars in their eyes about free energy. Solar panels are industrial products, made in a factory using much energy and many special raw materials besides silicon. The same insane concepts of waste and disposal that permeate our society apply to the thinking of the people in charge. There is the same need to apply Zero Waste thinking to the design of solar panels as for any other product and production method. Quick obsolescence followed by easy discard must not be the norm in this field.

  16. Danke für den tollen Beitrag, der hat mir sehr gut gefallen!

    The ideas and approaches of Zero Waste are needed as much in Germany as anywhere else. While Germany has instituted return of large packaging, there are better ways to redesign all the rest of the waste-making establishment also. What happens to the contents of the boxes while the boxes are being reused? Let’s work internationally to apply ZW thinking to all societies.

  17. Hello, I am new to blogging but have been involved in electrical engineering for over 15years now. Your article is brilliant reading! Do I have to click a button or something to subscribe on this site as I would like to check back now and then. All the best

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