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Empowering Our Communities To Redesign

“Non Bruciamo il futuro” new book from Rossano Ercolini

“In Italy, where against landfills and incinerators there have been many barricades and very few proposals, the story of Capannori and Rossano Ercolini should be studied at school”
La Repubblica

 

Non bruciamo il futuro

Rossano Ercolini is an elementary school teacher in Capannori, in the province of Lucca. When, in 1994, he became aware of the plans to build an incinerator at less than three km from his school, he decided to intervene defend the land and the health of his students. He founded the association ‘Environment and Future” with the aim of informing the community of the environmental risks of incineration and propose alternative strategies for the management of waste.

After years of harsh battles, in which Ercolini openly challenged the local and national political structures and economic powers, the construction of the incinerator was cancelled as a result of pressure from the community. As a result Ercolini was asked by the President of the Province of Lucca to develop an alternative plan for the management of waste.
This is how in 2007 Capannori became the first municipality in Italy and in Europe to declare the Zero Waste goal for 2020. Today, with 82% of its municipal waste recycled, Capannori represents the flagship of a wide movement involving more than one hundred local governments in the promotion and implementation of a waste management model without incineration. The efforts of Ercolini have made Capannori, and Italy, the pioneers of a movement that is taking off all over Europe, from England to Italy, from Bulgaria to Spain.

In April 2013, because of his commitment as an activist and educator, Rossano
Ercolini received the Goldman Environmental Prize. A Prize established in 1989 that honors those who have distinguished themselves for their environmental battles and inspired the common people to act in an extraordinary manner to protect the world.
Following this victory, Ercolini was invited to participate in a tour of 10 days in San Francisco and Washington, where he had the opportunity to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The book “Non bruciamo il futuro” (Do not burn the future) is the testimony of a struggle that was won after a decade of continuous fight against formidable and powerful opponents. It is the clearest demonstration of the enormous potential of a new way of doing politics from the bottom-up. It is also an extraordinary educational manifesto: throughout all these years the author has never stopped teaching.
Today Rossano Ercolini is a symbol of the power that environmentalism has to effectively influence the sustainable development of a territory beyond ideologies and party-politics.
Because it is only with the commitment from everyone that democracy lives and it is only when democracy lives that we can aim at a better future.

 

Ambiente e Futuro – Centro di Ricerca Rifiuti Zero Capannori

Zero Waste Italy

 

to buy the book go here

Press release in Italian here.


Restart Party: celebrating stuff coming back to life

Last week 60 people met  at the Kentish Town Community Centre, in London to restart many things.

For those who don’t know what a Restart Party is, just imagine a big room full of people coming from all over the city to get some help or advice to repair their own electronic devices. Place and atmosphere, at the beginning, seem similar to a medical consultation but, instead of your bodies, you bring your stuff and your skills to be improved and cured.

Imagine also a group of volunteer repairers who are kind, skilful, good at teaching and full of patience… A table with some snacks and refreshments to share, some music in the background, a fun ping-pong table… and two busy people, Janet and Ugo (the Restart Project’s founders), watching over everything to make sure everybody has their turn, helping and taking notes of the mending solutions.

Restart party

The first “turn” happened to the stuff itself: people there decided to repair their old devices instead of buying new ones, prolonging their lives. As one of the participants said, “it is not a question of money” because she could have bought a new and much higher performing printer for just £50. She wanted to surpass the electronic obstacles of her broken printer but also wanted to resist an economic system that leads her to buy it new instead of repairing.

Community in action

And here it comes the second “turn”: unlike a medical consultation, the Restart Party was not like a service that an expert offers to a silent patient or a passive client. Participants and Restarters (volunteer repairers) had a variety of knowledge and skills and these were shared equally amongst them. Without a lay/expert divide amongst participants, the Party managed to empower and encourage everyone to have a closer and more positive relationship with their (electronic) stuff. Somehow, this reinforced the community experience, as anybody could have a look at others’ repairs and learn from them.

This was the third “turn”: a spark of collective action that empowers communities against overconsumption and individualism. Precisely, in the Restart Party, many of the tables were surrounded by several heads peering in and paying attention to what was happening, regardless of who the owner was. Curiosity and inquiry were common features among participants.

This community spirit made of the Restart Party a very diverse event: a multi-age, multi-class, multi-knowledge, multi-borough and multi-people encounter. An opportunity to talk and meet up with some people who had not come across each other in their everyday routines.

repair party 1

It was not only about daring to open the ‘black box’ in an electronic device, but also about being helped and advised by a twelve year old boy or a non-’professional’ but experienced guy…

For three hours, we tried to fix and surpass certain material and electronic limits but also to fix and transform our relationship with our own devices. That’s it, we tried to fix and reverse some of the (social) codes, norms and barriers that rule our daily life, especially around electronics.

 

This guest post is by Barcelona-based researcher Blanca Callén, who spent a week with The Restart Project. Read more about her ethnographic research on informal processing of electronic waste.

The original post can be found here and was published by Restart Project on February 24th 2014.

 


Moulinot: closing the loop for restaurant food waste in Paris

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Paris is one of the worst-performing European cities when it comes to waste management. Low source separation rates, insufficient incentives and many incinerators & landfills.

Same as everywhere, organic waste represents more than 1/3 of the waste of the capital. Finding  the way to separately collect it from households is something that NGOs have already been asking since a long time.

Same story applies for restaurants and hotels, when will Paris separately collect the food waste from restaurants? Well, it looks like it is starting to happen! A citizen-led initiative shows the way forward for organic waste management in Paris.

Stephan Martinez, owner of le Petit Choiseuil Bistrot, was one of the first restaurants in Paris to take responsibility for the organic waste it was generating and started composting food scraps with worms before anybody else cared about the matter. Indeed Stephan was tired of seeing how these precious nutrients were being burned in incinerators instead of ending up being sent back to the soils where they are badly needed.

This is why he decided to take the initiative and after getting the green light from the local authorities and the ministry he set up a company to collect organic waste from restaurants and produce biogas prior to returning the organics back to the soils.

Synhorcat

The company is called Moulinot Compost & Biogas and this February has started to separately collect biowaste from 80 restaurants in Paris. Moulinot has been collecting this organic waste with great success. The aim of this operation is to determine the keys to succeed in successfully collecting food waste in big towns.

Cities overseas such as San Francisco are already separately collecting organic waste from restaurants and others such as New York are about to start. in Europe this is already done in many towns with the most successful practice taking place in Milan where organic waste from restaurants and households is collected door-to door with a great degree of purity.

Despite having been lagging behind for some time the waste management in Île-de-France is going to be subjected to many changes in the years to come. The national law mandates that “big biowaste producers” should recover this waste and turn it into a resource. This way the French capital will be discovering the potential of this new market which will create new jobs, save costs, bring nutrients back to the soils and reduce emissions.

Moulinot3

Indeed, Moulinot Compost et biogas has been able to develop an alternative in Paris thanks to the fact that it is cheaper to collect organic waste separately and produce biogas with it, which has a market value, rather than collecting waste all mixed up which is a net cost.

The initiative of Stephan Martinez shows how Zero Waste solutions work; a good dose of social innovation with a bit of the right technology is all is needed to help close the cycle for organic waste and stop sending waste to landfills and incinerators.


Game over – Guipuzkoa’s incinerator

The expensive & dangerous adventure of building an incinerator in Gipuzkoa is finally over. After a long process the project has been cancelled.

Video with French subtitles click here.
Video in Spanish click here.
Video in Euskera click here.

Gipuzkoa is located in the north of Spain, in one of the richest regions, with a GDP similar to that of Germany or Denmark and a population of 710,000hab. Yet, like the rest of Spain, Gipuzkoans have been sending 70% most of its waste to landfills until not too long ago.

Over the last years the Zero Waste groups in the country have been pushing for the change in the waste and resources paradigm. The town of Usurbil pioneered a system that was followed by Hernani and others in what today is a growing tide in the country.

At the end of this text you can see the fast progression of Zero Waste initiatives which would have been stopped if the incinerator would have been built, effectively locking the prospects for recycling. Today reuse and recycling go up and waste generation goes down.

In only one decade Gipuzkoa will have been able to move from 30 to more than 70% separate collection and is engaging all players in society in the path towards Zero Waste.

Gipuzkoa recycling
Gipuzkoa municipalities
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municipalities Gipuzkoa3
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Succesful launch of Zero Waste France in Paris

“Zero Waste is a journey more than a destination” and more and more people are joining us in this inspiring adventure. The annual meeting of Zero Waste Europe took place in Bobigny & Paris during last weekend –February 1/2 -and it represented one more landmark of the expansion of the movement in Europe.

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More than 400 people attended the public event organised to introduce Zero Waste to the French public. This event was also instrumental to launch the Zero Waste France platform which brings together many organisations and initiatives. The event was widely covered by French and international media.

 

 

Greenpeace

Representatives of Zero Waste groups in 15 European countries participated in the internal meeting that took place after the event and which served to coordinate the activities that the network will be organising in the continent during 2014.

Local NGOs such as CNIID, Collectif 3R, Arivem, Environement 93 or Adenca highlighted the many problems associated to the current system of waste management in France. Namely big and polluting incinerators and landfills, the worst initiatives of mechanical biological treatment in Europe, insufficient separate collection and a long etc… This is one of the main reasons behind the creation of Zero Waste France; to unite efforts to promote a new waste & resources paradigm for a country that has been lagging behind for too long. Like in so many other places if the politicians and experts cannot not make it happen the citizens will take lead.

bobigny2

The event also brought together many local initiatives from the French civil society and entrepreneurs. The Repair Café in Paris, the community composting experiences, reusable nappies, take-back schemes for packaging, etc…

The public event was closed by the screening of the film “Trashed”.

 

The presentations of the conference can be found here: http://fr.slideshare.net/ZeroWasteFrance

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