Representatives from 16 municipalities, among which are large cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Coruña and Palma de Mallorca, visited the Treviso region which has the highest recycling rates in Europe, and Milan, the largest city in the world where kerbside source separation of organic waste has been implemented.
The purpose of this visit, organised by Zero Waste Europe, Zero Waste Madrid, Friends of the Earth and the Catalan Foundation for Waste Reduction was to learn about the best performing waste management models. Currently Spain sends more than 60% of waste to landfills and incinerators, including 90% of biowaste generated, a clear sign of the need for a paradigm shift in waste management.
The participation of these municipalities in this study tour demonstrates the interest of local government to improve waste management.
In addition to the 6 large cities involved in this experience there was also a large representation of municipalities in the east of Madrid, an area severely affected by waste disposal infrastructure, such as landfills and incinerators as well as the heavily polluting cement kiln of Valdemingómez Morata de Tajuña, which is currently permitted to burn mixed waste.
The trip included 8 representatives from Eastern Madrid (San Fernando de Henares, Velilla de San Antonio, Alcala de Henares, Torres de la Alameda, Loeches, Mejorada del Campo, Coslada and Rivas Vaciamadrid), including politicians, technicians and activists.
Zero Waste Europe gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the European Union LIFE program of DG Environment which co-financed this tour.
On December 7 and 8 took place in Cluj, Romania, a training for local councilors, activists and entrepreneurs aimed at empowering local communities to properly manage their biowaste.
The training was given by the international Austrian expert Dr Florian Amlinger and the participants were trained on legislation, technologies and logistics to manage biowaste in a way that was suitable for the local conditions in Transilvania.
It is expected that after this training a number of decentralsied projects to separately collect and locally manage biowaste will be implemented in the area. Representatives from the city of Cluj also commented the possibility to implement separate collection of biowaste in the biggest city in the region.
This training will also make possible that those towns in the region that committed to advance towards zero waste will see in separate collection biowaste its first milestone.
The training was a success and fruits are to be reaped during the years to come.
Zero Waste Europe gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the European Union LIFE program of DG Environment which co-financed this tour.
Schools, groups of friends, visionary individuals,entrepreneurs, professionals and organisations all submitted their videos for the “The Power of Compost” competition. We wanted to hear your composting stories, and learn more about the inspirational ways that you and your communities are taking action to reduce organic waste and we got plenty of them.
Thank you to all of those who participated 🙂
Winner of the Community Solutions Award
Jesuïtes Gràcia- Kostka School in Barcelona, for involving the community of children, parents and schools in an cross-disciplinary and intergenerational experience around the importance of closing natural cycles.
Winner of the Creative Composter Award
Biomeiler – for showing a creative, low-tech, communty based solution to recover the heat of a composting process.
Winner of the Compost Education Award
András Guti – for explaining in a simple but illuminating way the benefits of composting and how we all can and should do it.
We received many inspiring videos but the jury composed of Dr Stefanie Siebert, Director of the European Compost Network, Eleen Murphy, coordinator of the Organic Stream and Joan Marc Simon, director of Zero Waste Europe could only select three winners.
However we particularly would like to mention the great work of:
We also got some great videos which were not eligible for the competition but some of which we would like to mention because they are a very cool way to promote compost:
Such as the “organic RAP group” PANG from Belgium:
Or the Wertvolle Kompost from Arge Kompost & Biogas Österreich
Why a contest to promote the many benefits of compost?
Compost is an incredibly powerful tool in the zero waste tool box. Organic waste is often one of the most challenging waste streams in urban areas, as it’s usually the largest waste stream of household waste and the most problematic in environmental terms. With separation at source and proper treatment through composting however, it can be an amazing opportunity to help create a genuinely circular economy. Composting organic waste can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and avoid hazardous disposal systems such as landfilling and incineration. As a natural soil improver, it replaces the need for chemical-based fertilisers (contributors to climate change), and it has amazing rejuvenating qualities for soil, increasing the capacity of the land to act as a ‘carbon sink’ and reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
Across Europe millions of people are involved in composting, both on an individual level and as part of neighbourhood or community schemes. These actions are preventing vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, and providing vital nutrients for soils.
This has been a great experience and we thank again all participants for showing how doing the right thing is good for the people and for the planet!
The Power of Compost competition was able to take place thanks to funding from the Life Instrument of the European Union. The sole responsibility for the content of the videos lies with Zero Waste Europe. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the funder mentioned above. The funder cannot be held responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
Together we represent leaders in climate solutions from every continent. In our communities and countries, we are blocking dirty energy projects like waste-burning incinerators, forming zero waste cooperatives that create jobs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and advancing the redesign of unsustainable products and economic systems.
Our governments did not leave Paris with a legally binding commitment to protect us and the planet from climate chaos. As such, we renew our commitment to advancing grassroots-led climate solutions in our own countries while ensuring strong national policies on energy and waste that result in real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
The scale of action needed is unprecedented. Millions of people, predominantly in the Global South, are already facing the disastrous effects of climate change, paying for unsustainable economic decisions with lost homes and lives, ravaged livelihoods, communities, and environments. It’s clear that the pollution that affects our health is also driving dangerous climate change, and that the root cause lies within a linear economic system that destroys dwindling finite resources, depends on dirty energy sources, and causes untold harm to human life and other living beings.
Members of our delegation have looked in detail at their national INDC plans. We have seen that some of them promote burning our forests and our organic waste rather than returning this biomass to the soil where carbon can be sequestered, improve soil health and fight climate change. Others promote waste incineration over recycling, a process that releases more climate pollution per unit of energy than a coal plant. These policies would allow our governments to fulfill their commitments without any real pollution or emission reductions. They are dangerous for our health and they are not going to keep us below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.
The Paris Agreement means that the work of ensuring actual emission reductions and creative solutions will be performed by leaders in climate solutions such as GAIA members across the globe, who are changing local economies and moving the global system. Zero waste solutions, alongside other community-led climate action, will contribute to achieving the proclaimed global target of a maximum of 1.5 degrees global warming, embracing the principles of conservation of materials, the reduction of toxics, equitable distribution, and access to resources. Standing in solidarity with grassroots and frontline communities around the world, we believe that the changes we need will come from our collective empowerment to hold governments to account and challenge corporate power.
Whilst the final agreement was under discussion, we were inspired to be part of the 15,000 people who took to the streets of Paris, despite a state of emergency and in defiance of a ban on protests, demonstrating an assertion that the future of our planet will not be left in the hands of a tiny number of ‘representatives’. This bottom-up pressure will form the backbone of any effective action on climate change and opposition to environmental destruction.
It will be up to us to block these false solutions and promote zero waste, clean energy alternatives. We need a rapid and just transition towards a sustainable and toxic-free circular economy, ensuring the protection of our earth’s finite resources for future generations. We need a complete paradigm shift that will take us from old unsustainable, toxic and linear systems towards solutions-based pathways. There is no more time to waste.
The agency responsible for waste management in Paris, Syctom has put forward plans for redevelopment of the incinerator at a cost of €2 billion which would lock the city of Paris into a 23 year contract of burning waste, effectively presenting an obstacle to zero waste solutions, such as reductions in waste production and significant increases in recycling rates in Paris.
Mariel Vilella, Associate Director & Climate Policy Campaigner for Zero Waste Europe said: “Zero Waste Europe’s latest climate report demonstrates that Incineration contributes to climate change rather than stopping it. Moreover, the redevelopment of the Ivry Incinerator with such a long contract ill be a challenge to creating the zero waste solutions which are required for the future.”
Members of Zero Waste Europe and the GAIA global network confronted incineration advocates today in the ‘Climate Generations Areas’ of the COP21 summit. The event was organised by Syctom, the agency in charge of waste management in Paris area, including the Ivry Incinerator redevelopment in Paris, which is actively opposed by local community group Collectif 3R and Zero Waste France.
Collectif 3R and Zero Waste France have created their own alternative plan, to Syctom’s €2 billion redevelopment plan, which would lock the city of Paris into 23 years of mass waste incineration, effectively preventing waste reduction
plans and higher recycling rates. The alternative, ‘Plan B’OM‘ sets out a pathway to a zero waste future free from incineration.
The side event at the Climate Generations Areas originally planned to showcase “bioplastics” from incinerator carbon capture systems, resulted in a significant part of the audience ‘walking-out’ in opposition to their attempted greenwashing of incineration. After the third speaker, a member of the audience stood up and spoke out in French against the presentation of incineration as green technology, calling for anyone who agreed to join them in walking-out.
A large proportion of the audience proceeded to leave the event, criticising the panel for their misrepresentation of incineration technologies. The group then gathered outside the event talking about alternatives to incineration, and zero waste strategies. As the panel finally left the event there was a call for an end to incineration and an anti-incineration song was sung.
This mapping exercise aims to increase the visibility and the accountability of those towns that have dared to step away from the outdated ‘recycle, burn and bury’ paradigm and into the new zero waste paradigm of ‘rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle’.
The first European municipality to adopt the zero waste goal was Capannori back in 2008, since then more than 300 municipalities from 7 countries have joined the network and many more are expected to join in the coming years.
During the conference Zero Waste Europe recognised the towns of San Francisco (USA), Alapuza (India), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Treviso (Italy) for their outstanding results in implementing the zero waste strategy and it welcomed the interest of the cities of Paris and the unions SIRDOMDI and SMTC to follow suit.
“The network of European zero waste municipalities embodies the ambition that we miss in the Circular Economy proposal from the European Commission; some towns are already above 80% recycling and many others know they want to get there in less than 10 years. We look forward to welcoming new cities to the network” said Joan Marc Simon, Director of Zero Waste Europe.
“Commissioner Timmermans said that ambition means realism to justify lower recycling targets. These examples show that his decision has more to do with lack of political ambition than realistic technical feasibility” added Mr Simon.
Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director – Zero Waste Europe +32 486 83 25 76
Zero Waste Europe – Zero Waste Europe is an umbrella organisation empowering communities to rethink their relationship with resources. It brings together local Zero Waste groups and municipalities present in 20 EU countries. Beyond recycling, the Zero Waste network aims at reducing waste generation, close the material loop whilst increasing employment and designing waste out of the system. www.zerowasteeurope.eu
After the withdrawal of the former circular economy package and the promise of a more ambitious version by end of 2015, the European Commission has now, just published a weaker Circular Economy Package.
The package wants to transform the current European linear economy into a circular one, by making products last longer and keeping the value of materials within the economy for as much as possible and, virtually eliminating waste.
Although the benefits expected of such a transition are huge, the proposed legislation and action plan will not be sufficient to create such a systemic change. Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe, commented “the proposed package opens with the same scope as the former proposal and contains some positive elements, such as the obligation for member states to align waste management pricing with waste hierarchy, but it’s not a more ambitious proposal. The new waste legislation has been watered down as compared to 2014’s package, while the action plan is mostly a patchwork of very vague policy proposals, some of them not expected to be implemented until the end of the current Commission mandate”.
The legislative waste proposal is relatively similar to that of 2014, albeit substantially weaker. Mr Simon said that “some minor improvements have been included, such as the introduction of a system to monitor residual waste, and the promotion of reuse of WEEE, textiles and furniture. Other positive elements are the expected improvement of methodologies and higher clarity in definitions and minimum requirements for EPR schemes that could pave the way to better eco-design along the lines drawn in the recent report about redesigning producer responsibility  published by ZWE.
On the negative part, Zero Waste Europe is critical of the legislative proposal as it fails to address prevention and reuse, it even goes so far as to eliminate food waste and marine litter reduction targets, it is less ambitious on separate biowaste collection, lowers waste recycling targets and does little to avoid the “lock-in” effects caused by ‘zero waste to landfill’ strategies .
“Our case studies of Contarina, Ljubljana and Gipuzkoa  showcase how it is possible to achieve +70% recycling rates as well as substantial waste reduction in less than 10 years whilst reducing management costs and creating local jobs. We hope the codecision process that kicks off today will deliver more than what the Commission proposes and not less than what is feasible and necessary to move towards a Circular Economy.” concluded Simon.