Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Neva Hassanein

Commitee Members

Marilyn Marler, Robin Saha


environment, environmental policy, zero waste, waste management, food waste, compost


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Law | Food and Drug Law | Sustainability


“Zero Waste” is a concept and community goal that has arisen to challenge the current consumerist economic system and offer solutions for a number of environmental issues. In adopting this goal, individuals and communities pledge to reduce and divert at least 90% of their waste in a certain number of years. These goals can be reached by employing policies, programs, and other intervention tactics which establish Zero Waste infrastructure, ensure equitable and widespread access to Zero Waste services, and provide educational outreach and resources to the community. Missoula adopted a Zero Waste goal in 2016 and created a Zero Waste Plan in 2018, aligning our community with these efforts and outlining a path to achieve these goals. Community leaders in Missoula identified one particular Action in the Zero Waste Plan – Action D3.1: Adopt a Universal Zero Waste Ordinance – as a priority; thus setting the stage for the present project.

This professional paper explores Zero Waste policies that have been successfully implemented in communities across the United States, in order to advise Missoula’s Zero Waste policy development and implementation. I present a broad policy scan which describes and provides implementation examples of Zero Waste policy opportunities similar to the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance described in Missoula’s Zero Waste Plan. I then summarize interviews completed with seven solid waste officials from communities that have adopted successful food waste diversion policies. Interviewees shared many valuable insights about the Zero Waste policy process, costs, funding, challenges, and successes, which can be utilized to inform Missoula’s efforts. Drawing upon the background research; interests and priorities of Missoula’s community leaders; policy scan; food waste analysis; interview insights; and investigation of Montana solid waste laws presented in this paper, I generated a list of ten Zero Waste policy recommendations for the City of Missoula. I offer this paper to Missoula City and County officials, as well as the wider community, for the purposes of implementing Missoula’s ZERO by FIFTY Plan, and moving the community toward Zero Waste.



© Copyright 2020 Sarah Blyth Lundquist