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Empowering Our Communities To Redesign

Zero Waste – a Key Solution for a Low-Carbon Economy


Zero Waste to prevent Climate Change!

Management of waste has critical climate implications. While waste is not always seen as a critical frontline issue for climate change mitigation, it in fact offers particularly cost-effective and ready-to-implement solutions pathways that can draw support from diverse constituencies who may otherwise not engage in climate-related work. The impact of these solutions on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is far from negligible, particularly from a lifecycle perspective. As climate change economist Nicholas Stern has noted, “Recycling is already making a major contribution to keeping down emissions. Indeed, its scale is so little appreciated that it might be described as one of the ‘best kept secrets’ in energy and climate change….”[1]


Zero waste solutions—including waste reduction, redesign, composting, biogas, extended producer responsibility, consumption transformation, and recycling—could be implemented today, using existing innovations, with immediate results.


7 Key Achievements of Zero Waste Solutions for a Low-Carbon Economy:

 1. Reduction of GHG emissions in every household. Programs that reduce, reuse and recycle municipal waste are effective and high-impact means of reducing GHG emissions.[2] When discarded materials are recycled, they provide industry with an alternative source of raw materials from which to make new products. This results in less demand for virgin materials whose extraction, transport and processing are major sources of GHG emissions. Zero Waste solutions thus reduce emissions in virtually all extractive industries: mining, forestry, agriculture, and petroleum extraction.



cartro reciclat

2. Reduction of GHG emissions at the production line. Additional energy and associated emissions are saved in the manufacturing process, as recycled materials generally require less energy to be turned back into products.[3] While “waste to energy” incinerators capture some of the energy embodied in materials that they burn, recycling the same materials conserves three to five times as much energy.[4] This is particularly notable in products such as aluminum, where the direct energy use is reduced by 88% from that required to produce primary aluminum.[5]





  1. Soil restoration with compost and increase of carbon sink capacity. Compost from green waste — everything from household food scraps to dairy manure — avoids methane emissions from waste disposal
    organic waste
    Source-separated organic waste is key to produce high-quality compost to restore the carbon sink capacity of soils.

    and most importantly, it contributes to soil restoration and helps increase its capacity to act as carbon sinks. Research shows that if compost was applied to just 5 percent of the California state’s grazing lands, the soil could capture a year’s worth of greenhouse gas emissions from California’s farm and forestry industries. The effect is cumulative, meaning the soil keeps absorbing carbon dioxide even after just one application of compost, as compost decomposition provides a slow release fertilizer to the soils leading to an increase in carbon sequestration and increased plant production.[6]



  1. Reduction of GHG and toxic emissions from waste disposal. Zero Waste solutions also directly reduce GHG emissions and toxic pollutant releases from waste disposal facilities, which are a significant source of both. Burning waste emits
    rugby cement plant
    CEMEX Cement plant in Rugby (UK), burning waste as fuel.

    carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O); and landfills and dumps are a primary source of methane (CH4), as well as CO2.[7In fact, incinerators produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of electricity than coal-fired power plants.[8] The average trash incinerator in the U.S. directly emits an average of 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide per MWh and 2.8 tonnes of nitrous oxide per MWh—both greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.[9] Burning waste also drives a climate changing cycle of new resources pulled out of the earth, processed in factories, shipped around the world, and then wasted in incinerators,landfills and combustion plants that use it as fuel, such as cement kilns.





  1. Zero Waste Solutions are cost-effective and accessible. Recycling for example has been noted as an extremely cost effective method of achieving emissions reductions. Avoiding one ton of CO2 emissions through recycling costs 30% less than doing so through energy efficiency and 90% less than wind power.[10] As climate change economist Nicholas Stern has noted, “Recycling is already making a major contribution to keeping down emissions. Indeed, its scale is so little appreciated that it might be described as one of the ‘best kept secrets’ in energy and climate change….”[11]
  1. Zero Waste Solutions create green jobs and revitalize local economies. The recycling sector, with more than two million informal recyclers in developing country cities, offers climate-smart urban solutions to sustain and strengthen livelihood development, improve local environmental health, and strengthen local economies.

    By prioritizing people-led zero waste programs that are rooted in worker empowerment, community participation, and policies that are both farsighted and inclusive, zero waste solutions illuminate the path toward building sustainable waste management systems that work for both communities and the environment.

  1. It reinvigorates and develops our communities. Solving the waste and climate problem requires more than technical fixes: zero waste solutions are part of a larger web of decisions about health, equity, power, poverty, development, policy decisions and governance which require the participation and engagement of everyone. Waste is everyone’s business and zero waste programs can draw support from diverse constituencies who may otherwise not engage in climate-related work.


[1] Stern, Nicholas, A Blueprint for a Safer Planet. Bodley Head, 2009.

[2] USEPA, Solid Waste Management And Greenhouse Gases: A Life-Cycle Assessment Of Emissions And Sinks, 3rd Edition. 2006.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Morris, “Comparative LCAs for Curbside Recycling, Versus Either Landfilling or Incineration With Energy Recovery.” International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. (2005); 13(3) 226-234.

[5] Schlesinger, Aluminum Recycling. CRC Press, 2006.

[6] See for the latest bibliography on this work.

[7] IPCC, AR4, Working Group 3, Chapter 10.

[8] U.S. EPA,


[10] Skumatz, “What Provides The Biggest Bang? Comparing Carbon Footprint Effects And Costs from Diversion vs. Energy Programs” presentation at California Resource Recovery Association, August 2008.

[11] Stern, Nicholas, A Blueprint for a Safer Planet. Bodley Head, 2009.

6th Spanish Gathering Against Waste Incineration in Cement Kilns

CARTELL VI trobada definitiu
Poster of the Gathering in Vilafranca


The 6th Spanish Gathering Against Waste Incineration in Cement Kilns took place the last 1315 of March in Vilafranca del Penedès (Catalonia, Spain). It was organized by the Movement Against Waste incineration in Uniland – a cement company that started burning tires in the cement plant located next to Vilafranca del Penedès in 2010, raising huge concerns at the local level.


The gathering was a success of participation, with more than hundred people attending the morning conferences and representatives from over 25 platforms against waste incineration from all over Spain.


“The purpose of the morning conferences was to share the latest scientific and medical information on the effects of waste incineration on people’s health and the environment”, explained Mercè Mestres, one of the organizers of the gathering and founder of the Movement Against Waste incineration in Uniland.



All presentations confirmed, once again, that burning waste and by-products in cement kilns is the most untenable and dangerous form of handling waste. On the basis of the latest peer-reviewed papers in the field, the experts agreed in considering emissions related to waste incineration in cement plants as a health hazard for people, animals and plants, soils, air and water.


Dr. Eduard Rodriguez Farré, medical doctor and professor at the Institute for Biomedical Research of Barcelona, presented the results of two peer-reviewed papers elaborated by the Health Institute Carlos III in Madrid and recently published in international journals.

The paper published in January 2013, “Cancer mortality in towns in the vicinity of incinerators and installations for the recovery or disposal of hazardous waste” concludes that there is a statistically significant increase in the risk of dying from cancer in towns near incinerators and installations for the recovery or disposal of hazardous waste.

The second paper elaborated by the same research group, published in January 2015, and titled “The cancer mortality in towns in the vicinity of facilities for the production of cement, lime and magnesium oxide”, detects as well an excess of all cancer mortality in the vicinity of these installations as a whole and, principally, in the vicinity of cement installations.

“We must insist that in an area like the Penedès, where the economy is based on the vineyards and the production of wine, this polluting practice can be very damaging to the local economy, as the pollution will show up in the final product, the wine”, said Dr. Rodriguez Farré. “We have enough data to be concerned about the increase of certain types of cancers, endocrine disorders, disruption of brain development and cognitive functions in foetal process resulting from waste incineration”, he concluded.


6th Gathering of the Spanish Network against waste incineration in cement kilns in Vilafranca del Penedès.


Dr. Carmen Valls, specialist endocrinologist and Director of the Public Health Program “Women, health and quality of life” unveiled the results of a survey conducted in early 2015 in the regional Hospital of Vilafranca del Penedès, in which the healthcare professionals detected subjectively an increase of cancer rates in the county. Vallès also provided detail about the short-term effects of waste incineration, mainly looking at in thyroid alterations, decreased sperm production, and increased congenital diseases, among others. The development of tumours and cancers were considered long-term effects.



Dr. Fernando Palacios, researcher at Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), presented about the economical impacts of waste incineration in cement plants, focusing on the damage made to public health during 2011.

Palacios explained that according to data from the European Environment Agency, 6 cement plants in Spain were amongst the 622 most polluting facilities in Europe. For these plants, Palacios presented figures for the loss of life expectancy in the surroundings of these plants, which would represent an economical cost ranging between 45 million EUR from Lafarge SA in Villaluenga de la Sagra and 70 million EUR in the cement plant in La Robla.

The final result stressed that the loss of life expectancy implied a cost of 319 million EUR for the public health systems as care for diseases resulting from this potential contamination.


The Gathering concluded with the public reading of a collectively elaborated Manifesto, that put forward the following demands:


  • The review of environmental authorizations given to the cement plants for the use of municipal solid waste, industrial waste and Refuse-Derived Fuel as combustion fuel.
  • The undertaking of epidemiological studies in areas where cement plants are already burning waste as fuel.
  • The implementation of healthy and sustainable waste management plans that aim at zero waste, as a main goal and guiding principle.
  • Do not political support to political parties that appear to be in favour of waste incineration, specially looking at the coming municipal election in May 2015.


The Gathering was reported in the regional TV and local newspapers, see here and here. Do not miss the complete debrief of the Gathering in this brilliant video made by the local organizers.

And the European waste champion is … Belgium!

Belgium managed to be the best performing country in waste management in 2013. Thanks to reducing waste generation and good recycling rates the Belgians managed to send for disposal in landfills and incinerators only 197kg per person.

The big (negative) surprise was Estonia, the European waste champion of 2012 managed to keep low waste generation rates but because of building an expensive incinerator it has reversed the virtuous progression of last years and 55% of the waste, mostly recyclable, is being now turned into ashes.

On March 26, the Eurostat service released the statistics for waste treatment for the year 2013, highlighting that waste generation in the EU has seen a slight decrease from 488 to 481kg per person (1,4% down).

Comparison Denmark Romania 2013 in kg/person Eurostat statistics
Comparison waste performance Denmark vs Romania in kg/person   Source: Eurostat 2013


Same as in preceding years, the country that generates more waste is Denmark with 747kg per person (2kg per person per day!) and the one that generates less is Romania with 272kg, almost three times less. Of course the devil is in the details and an important factor for this big difference is the way statistics are processed in different countries but the graph shows the staggering disparity in the EU. In absolute terms Romania sends a lot less waste for disposal, 213kg per person, in comparison to 416kg in Denmark, but in percentage the former disposes of 78% whereas the latter burns and landfills 55%.

A worrying trend

Evolution of recycling in the EU Source: Eurostat 2013
Evolution of recycling in the EU in %
Source: Eurostat 2013

However the figures confirm a worrying trend; recycling continues to stagnate. Whereas composting and recycling in 2012 were at 41,19%, in 2013 they only slightly increased to 41,79% (0,6% up).


In the same period landfilling has gone down 2% but this waste has not moved to recycling… instead it has been transferred to incineration. If we look at the following graph we will see how the current policies in the EU are taking waste out of landfills to throw it into incineration instead of recycling it. This is what some people, including some EU officials, call zero waste to landfill; definitely a bad idea!

Evolution landfill, incineration & recycling 2009-2013 Source: Eurostat
Evolution landfill, incineration & recycling 2009-2013
Source: Eurostat

When a system doesn’t work, you change the system

We have been denouncing since decades that incineration competes with recycling in getting waste out of the bottom of the hierarchy and that the current legislation lacks the tools to move waste up the waste hierarchy.

Since long time words have been backed by facts; our case studies and the story of the hundreds of European municipalities in Europe prove that it is possible to move away from landfilling to prevention, reuse and recycling –reducing waste generation at the same time as recycling increases- in 5 to 10 years. This is the real zero waste direction!

The stagnation of recycling in the EU should surprise no one. The Union lacks tools to promote prevention and reuse, it is victim of a system that economically rewards generating energy from burning waste instead of supporting the savings associated to reuse and recycling; plus it still doesn’t require countries to separate organic waste (the biggest waste stream) to allow for proper treatment as well as quality recycling of the rest.

The waste hierarchy was considered to be the ladder which waste should climb to be phase out of the system. However the EU doesn’t give the right tools to member states to be able to climb this ladder and continuous to insist in getting out of the landfills not worrying where this waste ends up.

No time to waste: circular economy package needed urgently!

The figures dating back to even before the approval of the Waste Framework Directive show the strategy from DG Environment doesn’t work. New tools are necessary to stop wasting time; the waste package recently binned by the Juncker Commission contained useful measures to move forward. The Circular Economy package that the European Commission intends to present end of 2015 should at the very least preserve most of them.

Eurostat 2013 + residual waste

Joint Statement on improving product durability and reparability

logos joint statement repairability
“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them.” – Neil LaBute

The problem

If the rest of the world consumed the way Europeans do, we would need the equivalent of two‐and-­a-­half planets to meet the demand for resources.
Usable products and device components are scrapped at an alarming rate instead of being salvaged, fixed, and reused. By 2050, our level o
of consumption of minerals, fossil fuels and biomass will reach 140billion tonnes, over double the current amount.

Products must be durable, easy and affordable to repair, and information on these aspects clearly available to consumers. Half the respondents
to a recent EU survey said they decided against repairing a faulty product in the past 12 months because repair costs were too high. 92% agreed that the lifespan of products available on the market should be indicated.
As one of the fastest growing sectors, electric and electronic products are the first candidates for increased repair and longevity —but the principles could equally be applied to textiles, furniture and other products. Legal changes and economic incentives are needed to promote product durability and repair, requiring a coordinated approach with all stakeholders -including policy makers, manufacturers, consumers, reuse organisations, recyclers and environmental NGOs.

The benefits of improved durability and reparability

  • For the environment: prolonging the lifespan of products avoids their early replacement by new products. To reduce the depletion of natural resources, it is crucial to maximise the utilization of the precious materials already contained in everyday products. Environmentally, it is optimal to give appliances a second life – either by repairing them, reselling them, refurbishing them or at least remanufacturing and recycling the most vital components.


By 2050, our level of consumption of minerals, fossil fuels and biomass will reach 140 billion tonnes, over double the current amount
  • For the economy: finished products have more economic value than the raw materials inside them. By breaking products apart for recycling, this added value is lost. Repair, reuse and remanufacturing maintain, rather than destroy that economic value.[1] Manufacturers should embrace a more service-oriented approach to their business strategy and enhance their brand reputation as makers of durable products. Moreover, maintenance and repair services would provide a significant potential for job creation if labour is taxed less and resource consumption more. Owing to the labour intensive nature of re-use and repair activities the potential for job creation in this area is many times higher than recycling[2].
  • For society: consumers would have a better choice of after sales service providers at more competitive prices, driving down the cost of repair. Easily repairable goods could also be sold on the second hand market at low prices, especially to low-income groups. Easily reparable products and modular design may also have a marked impact on the EU’s consumption patterns while boosting innovation in a rejuvenated market for repair, reuse and repurposing.


Our objectives

  • Create awareness and advocate for the importance of reparability and durability of electronics and other products for society, economy, and environment
  • Facilitate a constructive debate amongst relevant stakeholders on designing Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE) and other products for reparability and durability, as well as discuss potential new business models related to repairable products
  • Promote a regulatory environment that enhances reparability and durability, and to challenge EU and national policy makers to enforce appropriate and supporting legislation

Suggestions on where start

  • Oblige manufacturers to provide independent re-use and repair organizations with all means to ensure the full functioning and serviceability of their products over their entire lifetime including free-of-charge access to repair and service documentation together with any troubleshooting and diagnostic tools, circuit diagrams, machine codes, software and hardware
  • Work with manufacturers and EU regulatory parties to ensure that consumables in EEE—like batteries—are adhesive free and easily replaceable with common, non-proprietary tools.
  • Set design requirements for products to guarantee a minimum life time and ensure non-destructive disassembly of products into individual parts and components for reuse
  • Provide consumers with more information about product lifetimes through provision of information on the average expected product lifetime for a specific model.
  • Spare parts must be widely available and affordable for a minimum number of years following the last product batch depending on the product’s average expected lifetime. They must be available at non-discriminatory pricing to third parties. Re-use of used and remanufactured product components must also be allowed.
  • Develop a system to rate the durability and reparability of products and establish standards to measure these aspects for products placed on the European market.
  • Explore the effects, impacts and options of extending minimum legal product warranties, differentiating between product categories, while obliging manufacturers EU-wide to bear full responsibility for early failure as a minimum during the first two years after purchase
  • Lower taxes on repair service activities and increase them on resource-intensive and single use products instead.


Which are the relevant EU policy tools to build on?

Making repair cheaper could be tackled by reducing VAT on repair activities

A move towards a truly circular economy requires a horizontal approach across different policy areas. Designing products for ease of repair, together with any relevant information requirements for re-use operators can be tackled through the Ecodesign, WEEE and Batteries Directives. For other products, such as textiles and furniture, design requirements could be addressed within the framework of the EU circular economy package and related waste policies. Whilst information for consumers on product longevity and warranties could also be tackled in the aforementioned Directives, the Consumer Rights and Energy Labelling Directives could also have a major role to play. Regulations in the automotive sector such as the Massachusetts Right to Repair Law and the EU Regulation of motor vehicles and engines provide a source of inspiration which have addressed a number of these issues already. Finally, making repair cheaper could be tackled through innovative use of the VAT Directive through reduced VAT on repair activities.

Download the Joint Mission Statement on Product Repair and Durability

How to join

Interested in supporting this statement and vision? For more information contact Carsten Wachholz ( or Michal Len (

[1] “Reuse is where the money is” Based on the “Resource resilient UK” report from the Circular Economy Task Force of the Green Alliance, published in July 2013, page 18 and 19:

[2] E.g. O’Connell, Hickey and Fitzpatrick (2013) Evaluating the sustainability potential of a white goods refurbishment program in Sustainability Science, Vol 8, Issue 4

European experts sign a Manifesto to boost a new model of food waste management in the Mediterranean basin

A group of experts involved in the European Project SCOW, among which Zero Waste Europe, gathered in Barcelona to sign a manifesto to outline the strategies for improving food waste management in the Mediterranean area. It is estimated that this waste stream represents between 30% and 50% of the municipal solid waste in the countries of the Mediterranean basin.


The document outlines how the key factors necessary to achieve good implememntation in this field are: prevention, quantity and quality of selective collection and recycling, the establishment of clear objectives, the citizen awareness and participation, the redefinition of the infrastructures of waste treatment, in terms of efficiency, flexibility and scale, the production of quality compost assuring its final application, the regional cooperation among Mediterranean countries and the monitoring of results and dissemination of good practices.


The document remains open to new signatures by other entities and experts of the Mediterranean zone. If you are interested in receiving information about the manifesto and sign it, you can contact with BCNecologia, leader partner of the project, through the next e-mail address: or via the specific section of the Manifesto included on the SCOW website:



A new perspective for organic fraction management


The SCOW project aims the definition of an innovative and sustainable management system for organic matter. It seeks a collection and a recycling of low cost, technically simple and of high quality.


The effectiveness of the system is related to the introduction of door to door collection systems and the creation of small scale composting plants distributed in a decentralized way in the territory, located near the places of generation of the organic matter and also where obtained compost can be used.


It is also one of the objectives of the SCOW project the proposal of regulatory and policy recommendations on bio-waste management, and here is where the manifesto is framed. The manifesto was elaborated and agreed by a working group conform by different stakeholders and experts (including project partners and associates as well as entities involved in waste management) in the field of bio-waste and waste management within the Med Zone, during the SCOW technical workshop organized by BCNecologia that took place on the 25th of February 2015 in Barcelona. Some of the attendants apart from the project partners and associates were: Marco Ricci, from CIC and Chair of the Biological Treatment Working Group of ISWA; Michele Giavini, CIC and ARSambiente; Stefanie Siebert representing European Compost Network (ECN); Markus Luecke form SWEEP-Net; Jane Gilbert, Carbon Clarity; Joan Marc Simon from Zero Waste Europe; Jean-Jacques Dohogne representing ACR+; Francesc Giró from Waste Agency of Catalonia; and Ana Rodríguez as the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain.



Economic, social and environmental improvements


One of the main challenges in countries of the Mediterranean Basin is sustainable waste management, in particular the management of bio-waste. As bio-waste represents the largest fraction of MSW, it is therefore of particular importance. In the countries of the Mediterranean Basin, food waste represents the predominant fraction of bio-waste, reaching up to 30%-50% of total MSW production.


Strategies aiming to prevent and divert bio-waste (and food waste, in particular) from disposal can have significant outcomes, in particular addressing urgent environmental threats within this area:

*Effective and economically sustainable collection schemes for bio-waste represent the first step to produce quality compost, that can be used to mitigate soil erosion, desertification and enhance organic content in agricultural land improving its production as well as the fixation of carbon in soils.


*Diversion of bio-waste for recycling has a direct effect in reducing the environmental impacts of waste disposal due to landfilling of MSW; it limits the emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG) and leachates that may pollute ground water. It also reduces the use of landfill space.


Additionally, the introduction of separate collection schemes and models promote the development of a strong waste management sector with the creation of green jobs, even propitiating the effective regulation and involvement of the current informal recycling sector.

Generally speaking, the aim of bio-waste recycling can be considered to be the backbone of a modern and sustainable management solution for MSW.


A common and co-ordinated strategy within the Mediterranean Basin is therefore welcome. It can lead to faster adoption of measures and MSW management practises that aim to achieve the above mentioned environmental and socio-economic benefits, as well as contributing to support the North and specially Southern countries of the Mediterranean area in finding sustainable waste management solutions. This includes improved management of waste according to specific waste arisings, cultural and cooking habits and potential needs for assuring long term sustainability of agricultural land. This is set against a backdrop of increasing population and worsening effects due to climate change.


About the SCOW Project

SCOW is the abbreviation of Selective Collection of the Organic Waste in tourist areas and valorisation in small-scale composting plants. This is a European project of 3 years (2013-2015), which has as its aim the development of new models for the recollection and recycling of organic waste in areas with both tourist and agricultural activity.


SCOW is part of the Program ENPI CBC Med (Cross-Border-Cooperation in the Mediterranean) which aims to strengthen cooperation between the European Union and the countries located on the shores of the Mediterranean. The project has a budget of 4.970.000 euros. 90% of this total is funded by the European Union through the ENPI (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument).


The partners of the SCOW project are: Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona (leader partner) (Spain), Development Agency Gal Genovese (Italy), Local Government Association (Malta), House of Water and Environment (Palestinian Authority), Upper Galilee Regional Council (Israel), MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute (Israel), SYVADEC (SIRET) (France) and Environment Park SpA (Italy).


Find more information on the SCOW project via:

Zero Waste practices from San Francisco (USA) and Contarina (Italy) show transition is possible

Foto ZWE best practices presentation 2

The front-runners in the US and the EU when it comes to waste management presented their experiences in Brussels in March 4. A selected audience composed of members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials and stakeholders learned about the good practices from San Francisco and the province of Treviso in northern Italy.

In the event Joan-Marc Simon, executive director of Zero Waste Europe presented the zero waste philosophy and how it is necessary to design products without toxics and keeping in mind how they will be reintroduced into the technical or natural cycle, the necessity to optimise separate collection and finally reduce resource use. It was also made clear the difference between Zero Waste to Landfill and real Zero Waste by comparing both approaches with concrete examples of performance.



The event continued with the presentation of Kurt Vandenberghe, Director for Climate Action and Resource Efficiency in the European Commission. Mr Vandenberghe welcomed the initiative to organise a workshop about best practices and noted that ecoefficiency fixes are important but they will not be enough to reverse the current unsustainability trend and changes in the way we produce and consume will be needed. Moreover confirmed the commitment of the EC to present a more ambitious proposal for the Circular Economy which takes into account waste and products.

Jack Macy from the Zero Waste program in the city of San Francisco started his presentation building the link between waste and climate policy, with the experience of carbon capture by using compost on rangeland. He went on to present the exerience of San Francisco, based on the “fantastic three”; separate collection door-to-door in three waste streams, organic waste, recyclables and residuals. The system is optimised with pay-as-you-throw which makes waste generators pay according to how much waste they take out. Prevention measures such as banning single-use plastic carrier bags, single-use plastic water-bottles or extended polistyrene complete a model which represents the state of the art in the US.

Marco Mattiello presented the most succesful practice in Europe so far, in which the district of 550,000 people covered by Contarina has achieved recycling rates of 85% and residual waste rates -what is sent for disposal after recycling- of only 53kg. But faithful to the zero waste spirit Contarina wants to continue improving and has set itself recycling targets of 96,7% and prevention targets of reducing 80% which will mean producing only 10kg per person per year –average residual wste in EU is 250kg-. Mattiello showed how in Contarina this has helped reduce costs and create jobs.

Foto ZWE best practices presentation

JM Simon concluded the event by highlighting the fact that these transitions have taken place in less than a decade and hence prove that it is possible to achieve high separate collections rates in less time than what is needed to build an incinerator plant. Simon noted that three factors have made possible these initiatives; political leadeship, source separation of organics and not having invested into incineration capacity, and warned that the European Commission has been stopping separate collection of organic waste since 15 years and has been facilitating growth of incineration since 10 years. These are two things that need to change in order to make possible a circular economy.

To download the presentations of this session click: