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Empowering Our Communities To Redesign

Inspiring and powerful Zero Waste Gathering in Sofia

From Friday 5th to Sunday 7 June, dozens of zero waste campaigners, experts and supporters from across Europe gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria for 3 days of discussion, planning and strategy at the Zero Waste Europe Annual General Assembly, hosted by Zero Waste Europe’s member in Bulgaria, Za Zemiata.

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the Zero Waste Conference opened with a speech from Ivelina Vasileva, the Bulgarian Minister of environment and water

On Friday 5th, the Zero Waste Conference opened with a speech from Ivelina Vasileva, the Bulgarian Minister of environment and water. This was followed by a passionate speech from Enzo Favoino, the Chairman of the Zero Waste Europe Scientific Committee, who told the audience that “we must never surrender to the idea that there is something which is not reusable or recyclable”.

The Director of Zero Waste Europe, Joan Marc Simon (ZWE) emphasised in his speech that zero waste is about “asking the right questions: not ‘Is it better to landfill or incinerate?’ but rather ‘How do you mainstream the support to re-use, recycling, and redesign?”.

On the Friday afternoon there were talks from regional zero waste groups, including Erika Oblak from Zero Waste Slovenia, who presented their success in Ljubljana, the first Zero Waste European capital. Marco Mattiello spoke about the successes of the zero waste strategy in Contarina, Italy, the best performing region in Europe as outlined in the ZWE’s case study about their experience.


Camille Duran in his presentation about zero waste and circular economy

In a series of short presentations, the conference heard the story of a variety of different campaigns and their successes and strengths. These included Camille Duran, from Green White Space, who

examined the economic context for zero waste as part of a larger “sharing economy” in a globalised world. Dimo Stefanov spoke about his challenges in creating a zero waste compost farm, and creating a viable zero waste business in Bulgaria.

Delphine Lévi spoke on behalf of Zero Waste France about the incredible speed at which their campaign has grown, and how zero waste has become “trendy” in France, with the possibility of many significant gains on the horizon.

Victor Mitjans from the Barcelona-based Fundació Catalana per a la Prevenció de Residus i el Consum Responsable, highlighted the use of ‘deposit schemes’ for recyclable materials as a financial incentive to increase the recovery rates of one-way packaging, and put forward the idea for this to be further extended towards other waste streams including precious metals and other pollutants. Csilla Urban, from Humusz in Hungary told the audience about the zero waste events they had held, as well as their plans for the future of Zero Waste in Hungary.

In the next presentation the conference heard from Sofia resident Irena Sabewa who had pioneered a community composting scheme called “living together” bringing together neighbourhood residents and using “community effort to produce community results”.


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Final group picture of the Zero Waste Conference, Sofia.

The presentations ended with a talk from Ilian Iliev from the Bulgarian Public Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development. This talk tied together many of the key aspects of the Bulgarian zero waste movement. With a wide range of community projects focussing on addressing problems with collection, tackling low levels of knowledge and fighting incinerator projects. His closing remarks made clear challenges of tackling the various stakeholders of the zero waste project in Bulgaria, and claimed that it is only through working with these groups that Bulgaria can begin to move up the European ranking for waste management.


Alodia Pérez from Amigos de la Tierra, Zero Waste Europe member organization based in Madrid, Spain.

Saturday saw members of the Zero Waste network looking ahead to the coming years, discussing the priorities for the campaign and strategy for growing, developing and increasing the ‘Zero Waste Cities’ across Europe. The final day of the ZWE Annual Meeting saw a summary of the ideas presented over the previous two days as well as the administrative tasks of the AGM.





Working groups sessions reporting back in plennary.

The meeting closed with an inspirational presentation from Zero Waste Europe’s Associate Director, Mariel Vilella who highlighted the global scale of zero waste campaigns, covering the work of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the changing landscape of global campaigning.

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Working groups reporting back in plennary at the ZW Europe Annual General Assembly


Throughout the meeting, hundreds of conversations took place, experiences were shared, tactics discussed and strategies developed setting the groundwork for increased pan-European actions and co-ordination. Hearing about the successes and struggles of groups organising for zero waste, left the Zero Waste network enthused, inspired and ready to drive the campaign for zero waste forward.

If you couldn’t make it the ZWE Sofia Meeting, or have only just heard about the ZWE network and want to get involved or help out, you can get in touch via email or have a look to see if there is a local group in your region by checking the Our Network section of the website.

1st Zero Waste Fair in the Philippines

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Visit the Zero Waste Fair website:


The first Philippine Zero Waste Fair took off on January 22, in Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City. Organized by EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation, and Health Care Without Harm, the Zero Waste Fair was an excellent opportunity to learn more about zero waste initiatives, lifestyle, municipalities and organizations.


The Zero Waste (ZW) fair, celebrated in the context of the Zero Waste Month proclaimed by President Benigno Aquino III, was the first ever exhibition on waste, workshops on and trading of discards, and exchange of ideas and practices on waste in ways and forms that were accessible to everyone. Its aim was to multiply the pursuers of zero waste, and grow the benefits exponentially!



The workshops on recycling, composting, repurposing, and the proper handling of electronic waste were one key activity in the Fair. Most importantly, it was a gathering of people who wanted to learn from each other.

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Booth by Junk Not, objects made with recycled plastic.


The diverse booths showcasing products made from recycled materials were particularly inspiring. Junk Not shared her stories of how most of plastic reused for her creations was found in a scrapyard and was going to be burnt. All her products were effectively (and beautifully) diverted from landfills and incinerators.


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Recycled glass bottles turned into beautiful decoration.





People could walk around exhibits; listen, discuss with others; participate in checking out propositions; even repair or repurpose their discards right on the fair site; and engage and trade online and carry it forward during the fair.



Interestingly, the ZW Fair counted with the participation of an international delegation of ‘zero-wasters’ that presented a perspective of Zero Waste experiences around the world. Nalini Shenkar from Hasiru Dala in Bangalore introduced the audience to the experience of organizing a cooperative of grassroots recyclers, which has involved the creation of 500 jobs in 2 years. Shibu K Nair from the Kerala-based organization Thanal talked about Zero Waste Himalayas, a network of more than 30 groups created in 2010 that promotes better resource use and recovery practices in the region of the Himalayas, particularly strategic since it holds the source of water for half of humanity in the planet. From the Global North, Monica Wilson, Recycler of the Year 2012 and GAIA‘s US and Canada Coordinator, explained the specific steps in the implementation of the Zero Waste program in San Francisco, a city that has been continually reducing its waste generation and it’s committed to a zero waste goal by 2020. Similarly, Mariel Vilella Zero Waste Europe’s Associate Director, introduced some of the European zero waste best practices.


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These experiences reinforced a zero waste vision for Philippines, where the debate around waste management is currently hot and contentious. The National Solid Waste Management Commission is a designated group by the government to assess new waste management technologies and revise the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Act, which could potentially lower the current targets for air pollution and allow incinerators back in the country. The incinerator moratoria in Philippines has been a world-wide example to ensure a toxic-free environment, and its eventual cancellation is seen as a global threat.



Later in the week, Zero Waste Europe’s Mariel Vilella and Dr.Jorge Emmanuel called for the protection of this legislation and the pursuing of ZW goals in the Philippines.

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Booth of Nueva Vizcaya Province at the Zero Waste Fair

Precisely, the Zero Waste Fair showed several municipalities that are already taking steps towards implementing zero waste programs. Nueva Vizcaya was one of the highlighted places that is actively working towards zero waste goals, with several initiatives on education, training, livelihoods, and planning.


Moreover, Mother Earth Foundation organized a visit to the local Barangay of Fort Bonifacio, Taguig (the native Filipino term to refer to the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, ie. a village, district or ward) that has transformed a former illegal landfill into a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), along with a source separation system that has currently reached 95% compliance. The separate collection scheme and management of materials in the MRF has formalized the work of 12 waste pickers and 5 MRF staff members, with a considerable raise in their monthly earnings and livelihood stability. 


As a closing event, the Zero Waste Fair gave the Zero Waste Awards, as a salute to ZW heroes and pioneers, and a celebration of how far we’ve come on the road to Zero Waste.


The third phase of the Zero Waste Italy movement launched in Capannori

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The Zero Waste Italy national meeting took place in Capannori, in the Lucca province, on 3 and 4 January. Meetings and workshops focused on three main themes (empowerment, ZW start-ups and local enterprises, and composting) and attracted over 150 participants, including mayors, experts, artists and activists from over 12 Italian regions. Numerous innovation initiatives have been presented over two days, from Funghi Espresso of Antonio Di Giovanni and Kompresso of Giampaolo Belloli, proposing alternatives to non-recyclable coffee capsules, to the Ecopulp plast project presented by Enrico Fontana, to the Effecorta network of Pietro Angelini, the Zero Waste Hotel and Restaurant Project of Antonio Esposito, and many others.

The conference highlighted the key role of local communities in reaching the Zero Waste goal and the need to empower them, promoting democracy, awakening good citizenship and sharing knowledge and best-practices. As the province of Lucca has shown, the Zero Waste strategy has proven capable of polarising positive energies and generating enthusiasm among all stakeholders.

In this framework, the National Assembly of Zero Waste Italy elected Patrizia Sciuto as ZWI vice-president, while reconfirming ZWI president Rossano Ercolini and ZWI secretary Letizia Pappalardo. It also launched the Technical and Scientific support group, led by Enzo Favoino. The National Assembly thus strengthened the organization of the Association, which is now formally recognized, well-rooted in all Italian regions, and benefitting from a wide network of technical and operational experts, capable of addressing the increasing demand for cooperation from local stakeholders.

The books “The Zero Waste solution”, “Don’t burn the future” and “Ten Actions for Zero Waste” have also been presented by authors Paul Connett, Rossano Ercolini and Roberto Cavallo.

Professor Paul Connett, during its speech entitled “Ten Steps towards Zero Waste” said that ZWI is now ready for its third phase: investing on communities rather than on incinerators, promoting sustainability schools, and increasing producer responsibility through Zero Waste Research Centres, like the one in Vercelli presented by mayor Maura Forte and assessor Marta Ferri.

The closing concert of the “Gaudats junk band” of Capannori and surroundings, playing with instruments made out of reused materials, expressed all the energy and the creativity of this two days gathering.
Rossano Ercolini, ZWI president, concluded the event stating that, despite the anachronistic article 35 of the recent “Sblocca Italia” (“Unlock Italy”) decree, which aims at reviving incinerators, the contagious wind of Zero Waste keeps blowing, and it will soon bring “a Zero Waste Spring”.

South African Waste Pickers on a Zero Waste Tour

 South African Waste Pickers are amongst those organized communities that have turned the tide of their role in the waste management systems. Since the creation of their national organization SAWPA – the South African Waste Pickers Association with the support of groundWork in 2009, their empowerment as the de facto recycling system in South Africa has reached important political milestones and it keeps expanding. Their latest step: undertaking a Zero Waste Tour in Europe to learn about organic waste treatment, visiting the Zero Waste Best Practices in Gipuzkoa (Basque Country, Spain) and sharing their story of collective organizing with the informal recyclers in Barcelona.

Management of organics, a key pillar for zero waste success

The Zero Waste Tour started in Donosti with the International Training Course on Organics Management, which addressed the management of the organic fractions of waste, including collection and treatment. It also included a site-visit to the door-to-door collection system of Hernani and a composting facility plant. As it was pointed out by one of the trainees Enzo Favoino, Chair of the Zero Waste Europe Scientific Committee, specific collection and treatment of biowaste is a must to move towards zero waste.

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SAWPA delegation visited the community composting facilities in Hernani, Basque Country. Photo: María Durán

“With recycling of packaging we only go halfway”, Favoino argued. Biowaste still makes a significant part of the total municipal solid waste and therefore ambitious zero waste plans cannot be reached by collecting and treating only dry waste. “SAWPA supports a zero waste approach as it creates jobs, saves public money, and it combats climate change”, said Simon Mbata, national spokesperson for SAWPA. “Organic waste is a critical waste stream within a zero waste approach but it’s not included in the South Africa’s Waste Act (2008), so coming to this training it’s been really useful to start developing organic waste strategies back home,” he added.


The training was organized by Zero Waste Europe and the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and it gathered zero waste groups from all over Europe, a representative from China Zero Waste Alliance and SAWPA. Photo: María Durán.


First international meeting of waste pickers in Barcelona

Moving on to Catalonia, one of the most striking activities of the Zero Waste Tour was the meeting with the local waste pickers in Barcelona, most of them involved in the Cal Africa Moving cooperative. This was the first time that an international delegation of waste pickers visited Barcelona and so it was a key opportunity to exchange notes on working conditions and strategies for collective organizing to improve and demand recognition for their valuable work. Together with researchers from Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA), Research & Degrowth, Zero Waste Europe and GAIA, representatives from SAWPA and Cal Africa Moving joined for a whole day of strategy talks culminating in the public event “Informal recycling: ecological alternatives and socials rights” that opened up the debate in Barcelona about the inclusion of recyclers in the waste management system in the city.

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The meeting of SAWPA with informal recyclers in Barcelona was an opportunity to discuss strategies for collective organizing and recognize the social, economical and environmental contribution of recyclers.

Those conversations stressed the need to recognise the environmental and social contribution of recyclers to resource recovery and job creation. They collect, sort, clean and in some cases, process the recyclables, returning them to industry as an inexpensive and low-carbon raw material. Essentially, their work represents a huge opportunity to save resources and reduce GHG emissions through increased recycling rates, if given the proper recognition and support.

Precisely, one of the obstacles for the expansion of recyclers’ activities that were discussed in the meeting was the role of the intermediate positions in the trade channels of resources (commonly known as the ‘middle men’), which in Barcelona corresponds to some enterprises that maintain a privileged position over the street waste pickers and the scrap market. Moreover, for many recyclers in Barcelona, this obstacle is aggravated by their migrant situation and lack of resident or working permit, running the risk to be detained and deported.

“In South Africa we have received many brothers and sisters from our neighbouring countries and we have welcomed everyone in our organization, which in turn it’s linked to many other waste pickers cooperatives around the world,” said Simon Mbata. “Our Global Alliance of Waste Pickers is a key space to strengthen the international coordination and solidarity amongst waste pickers”, he added.



The public event celebrated in Can Batlló was a chance to bring these conversations on to the open space, giving a chance to bring forward many interested suggestions such as generating a census of recyclers in Barcelona and providing identity cards to enable their formalisation. The Fundació Catalana per a la Prevenció de Residus i Consum pointed out the challenge posed by the recycling of e-waste and the need for quality standards to improve the recyclability of products. Other participants lamented that the administration has implemented an extremely expensive waste management system, considering the low recycling rates in the city, and the consumer misinformation that hinders recycling at source and other good practices. Ultimately, there seemed to be much support to integrate the informal recycling into the formal system and take that as an opportunity to re-evaluate and transform the way of handling waste in Barcelona.

Audio of the public event available here:



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The event ‘Informal recycling: ecological alternative and social rights´took place in Can Batlló. Photo: Blanca Callén


Last but not least, SAWPA met with a Barcelona City Council-led working group that is coordinating the start-up of a cooperative of recyclers in the city. Apart from learning the details of the project, it was a useful chance to exchange experiences and local knowledge. On the basis of their experience in the field, SAWPA warned about the potential division amongst communities of waste pickers if the new cooperative would not involve all of them and suggested the direct inclusion of waste pickers in all the phases of development of the project. On this point, SAWPA and Zero Waste Europe agreed it’s fundamental to create a working group with all the relevant stakeholders that can accompany this process.

All in all, it was a very productive and fruitful week, taking another step forward towards the transformation of our society with more inclusive, sustainable, toxic-free and resource-efficient waste management systems.


Reporting the International Training on Organics Management

The International Training Course on Organics Management took place last 13-14 October in Donosti (Basque Country, Spain) and it was an excellent opportunity to address the management of the organic fractions of waste, including collection and treatment. The course intended to empower policy makers, waste managers and activists by providing them with relevant tools and knowledge on biowaste management. The course counted with participation of waste or other environmental NGO activists, representatives of local authorities and policy makers from the Basque country, the rest of Spain, France, Italy, South Africa and China.

Three trainers Dr Marco Ricci, Dr Enzo Favoino and Dr Alberto Confalonieri, from the Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza provided relevant knowledge and illustrative examples of separate collection and treatment of biowaste in Italy and Europe. Besides, the course included a site-visit to Hernani, and one to a centralised compost site.


The importance of treating the organic fraction separately

Enzo Favoino showed that a specific collection and treatment of biowaste is a must to move towards zero waste: “With packaging recycling we only go halfway”, he argued. Biowaste still makes a significant part of the total municipal solid waste and, so ambitious zero waste plans cannot be reached by collecting and treating only dry waste.

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Organic waste is one of the most challenging waste streams due to its polluting capacity when mixed with other waste streams. Yet it offers a great potential to become a solution to climate change and soil degradation if separated, collected and treated properly.


The main advantages of treating biowaste that are mostly linked to climate change: GHG emission reduction as a result of less landfilling or incinerating biowaste, the possibility of sequestrating carbon in the soil and of preventing the degradation of the soil. At the same time, treating biowaste specifically was shown to be the best way to meet EU objectives of landfill diversion, while proves that incineration is not needed.

One of the current best practices in Europe is found in the Contarina district in Northern Italy, the European champion of separate collection and residual waste reduction. On the contrary, the case of Majorca, claiming to have the biggest incineration facility of Southern Europe, showed the implications of having an incinerator that needs to be fed. Other bad examples arose from the public, such as that of Tenerife or South Africa, where incineration plants are planned.


Separate collection schemes: the simpler, the better.

Dr Marco Ricci-Jürgensen’s session dealt with the elements to be considered when designing separate collection schemes: the main elements to be taken into account and the pros and the cons of each of them, including different collection systems and policy instruments to implement biowaste collection.

Among these instruments, the door-to-door collection system was argued to be the most efficient because it raises the share of separate collection and reduces significantly the presence of contaminant elements in the different fractions. Other policy instruments underlined were the pay-as-you-throw schemes (PAYT), permitting to establish a direct link between waste production and the cost of the service. The session concluded that on the light of the different implementation options, seems clear that the simpler, the better it tends to work.

Dr Marco Ricci, Dr Enzo Favoino and Dr Alberto Confalonieri, from the Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza provided relevant knowledge and illustrative examples of separate collection and treatment of biowaste in Italy and Europe. Photo: Mariel Vilella



“There is no perfect solution and any system must be adapted to the local situation” said Marco Ricci. “However, it is crucial to have stakeholders involved to make the transition towards zero waste work. In this sense, environmental NGOs, agricultural sectors and citizens (waste producers) must be involved and informed of the changes.”

Milan was presented as one successful example of implementation of biowaste collection. The city with 1,5 million inhabitants and densely inhabited, has recently introduced door-to-door collection of biowaste and has reached its objectives after 6 weeks. Another different and interesting example was Castelbuono, an old town with medieval structure in Sicily, where the logistics of collecting biowaste were complicated and they started collecting biowaste with donkeys. After all, it was proven that no matter what challenges are faced by any given municipality, there is always a feasible way to collect biowaste.


Garden waste: a chance for community compost.

Garden waste is also an important waste stream within the general biowaste. The session led by Dr Favoino focused on home and community composting and the reality of these systems across Europe.

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Hernani zero waste strategy has a strong emphasis in promoting community composting. Household participating in the scheme receive up to 40% reduction in their tax bill. Photo: María Durán.


Community composting is usually a parallel element to public management, but it may be also a very good substitute to collection in isolated or remote areas, as it has no cost of collection and treatment. However, the fact of changing the ownership of the discards may challenge the existing legislation. For instance, in Bulgaria they have adapted their legislation and included community composting as “decentralized composting” with no need of administrative approval, as long as it does not exceed 10m3 annual compost.



Site-visit to Hernani

The group also had a chance to visit the Zero Waste Best Practices of Hernani, one of the forefront towns in the Zero Waste movement in Gipuzkoa. Hernani decided in 2010 to implement a door-to-door collection system with specific collection of biowaste, but it was not until 2013 when the community composting in urban areas was launched. According to the civil servant in charge of waste, the system is working and they have succeeded in reducing residual waste by 60%. They are still committed to keep on improving and they are looking for the ways of overcoming the 90% separate collection. The system in Hernani has proved to be successful and has today 14 employees, when it had 3 in 2010. This is also a part of the success story in a country with high unemployment rates. See the full case study here.


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The site visit to Hernani was a useful opportunity to see the successful implementation of a door-to-door collection system with special emphasis on domestic and community composting facilities. Photo: Diana Osuna.


The nitty-gritty details of composting

The following sessions got down to the nitty-gritty elements of composting, covering the biological process of transforming biowaste into compost and the main technologies for composting, as well as the options for treating odours.

Again, it was stressed that the best technique is the one defined for a precise situation and specific needs. “Composting is in fact a very versatile process so, it permits small-scale low-tech facilities to large industrialized and centralized facilities, said Dr Alberto Contalonieri. For example, weather conditions or the fact of being a rural or an urban area may affect the decision of having an open or a closed systems or a dynamic or a static one.

Dr Enzo Favoino talked about the use of compost as a natural fertilizer, explaining the positive effects of compost both for the soil and for the vegetables produced. The presence of organic matter reduces the soil loss by one third, while increases substantially the presence of earthworms. These work as a natural indicator of the health of the soils. At the same time, the use of compost as natural fertilizer reduces the percentage of vegetables with diseases at their roots. With half of Europe suffering from a situation of pre-desertification in terms of the presence of organic matter in the soil, the use of compost is a very good way to close the loop and tackle this situation. Dr Favoino underlined other benefits of compost, such as its slow-release of Nitrogen, which permits to avoid Nitrogen losses during heavy rainfalls and that an eventually excess derives into nitrates.


Site-visit to Lapatx centralised composting facility

The afternoon we visited the Lapatx centralised composting facility, in the Aizpeitia municipality. The director of the plant along with the director of the provincial waste consortium in charge of it presented the different problems they had with the plant. It was an excellent way of applying the concepts learned in the morning to the decision-making process and to see why the facility was not properly designed. In this sense, while they were supposed to cover the demand of the whole province, the former government expected to collect a small amount of organic waste because they intended to build an incineration facility. However, the change of government stopped the incinerator and required of adapting the Lapatx composting centre to allocate larger amounts of biowaste.

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Site-visit to Lapatx composting facility Aizpeitia municipality. Photo: María Durán.


Today Lapatx works in full performance but suffers from the problems of an initial bad design: it is very small and has an inappropriate shape; the upload of biowaste takes place in a slope; the machine opening the bags was originally designed to open packaging, etc. However, in the near future, two new facilities will be opened in Gipuzkoa with the duty of complementing Lapatx.


An experience to be repeated!

This training course was the first of its kind within the Zero Waste Europe and it proved to be a perfect opportunity to learn the rationale behind separation of organic waste at source, and the logistics and economics of separate collection of biowaste systems. The site-visits allowed the direct observation of how a zero waste system can work, with full details of the main challenges and opportunities. The participants were very satisfied of this experience and look forward to further training programmes.

The Zero Waste Tour kicks off!


The Zero Waste activist Danilo Boni started cycling the tour which will bring him to visit many Zero Waste experiences in the country.

The tour starts today Tuesday, May 27, in Milan in an event which acknowledge the efforts of 19 companies and start-ups who have distinguished themselves for promoting clean production processes in which all the outputs of the production are turned into inputs  so that the materials remain in use.

With this initiative, Zero Waste Italy in collaboration with the Municipality of Capannori (LU ), the Zero Waste Research Centre, the Association AmbienteFuturo and many local groups and municipalities throughout Italy, aim to highlight and reward the commitment of businesses in achieving the goal of Zero Waste .

“More than 70 % of the waste problem can be solved by the citizens by separating waste for recycling. But the remaining 30% is waste which cannot be properly managed and needs to be redesigned upstream. This must be solved together with companies” said Rossano Ercolini, president of Zero Waste Europe.

In the morning of May 27, councillor Piefrancesco Maran welcomed the delegation of the Zero Waste movement , including Paul Connett , a global promoter of Zero Waste strategy, Rossano Ercolini , winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2013 and president of Zero Waste Europe and Enzo Favoino , a researcher at the Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza and coordinator of the Scientific Committee of Zero Waste Europe.

The meeting, sponsored by the City of Milan, highlights the success in the separate collection of organic waste in this municipality, which in June will cover 100% of the population and represents the most extensive and successful experience of separate collection of organic waste worldwide.

In the afternoon the cyclist Danilo Boni, accompanied by a delegation of Zero Waste Italy, will start pedalling the electric bicycle Frisbee, provided by TC Mobility official sponsor of the tour.

Later in the afternoon there was a meeting in Busto Arsizio, to be attended by Paul Connett and Enzo Favoino . After the meeting the tour continues along the way from the Villa Tovaglieri to the headquarters of the incinerator Accam. The event is organized by local committees Zero Waste under the patronage of the town of Busto Arsizio.

The stages of the tour will be the following :

Bolzano ( May 31)

Este -PD (2-3 June)

Marzabotto -BO (4-5 June)

Florence ( June 6 to 7 )

Greve in Chianti – FI (8 June )

Montefiscone –VT (June 10 )

Rome ( June 12 to 13 )

Naples (June 15 )

Sorrento -NA (16-17 June)

Capannori -LU ( 20-21-22 June )

In parallel to the tour, Professor Paul Connett will be the protagonist of another tour that will take him on May 30 in Naples, where he will attend a meeting with the schools on the theme of “Terra dei Fuochi” (Land of Fires), and Saturday, May 31 he will join Rossano Ercolini in Sorrento for a meeting in the Conca Park Hotel as part of the “Hotels and restaurants Zero Waste.”

Ercolini will also participate in a panel discussion open to citizens of the Versilia with mayors and councillors of Seravezza , Pietrasanta and Forte dei Marmi. The meeting, scheduled for May 29, is organized by GAS di Pietrasanta and Seravezza .

You can follow the tour in the ZWTour blog using the hashtag  #ZWtour and on the Facebook page of Zero Waste Italy.

Zero Waste: the answer to “Wasted potential!” in the EcoInnovation Forum


The Annual Forum on EcoInnovation took place in Hannover during April 7 and 8. This year the topic of the forum was waste and resources and was entitled: “Wasted potential!: Towards circular economy in cities”

Many members of Zero Waste Europe were invited to present the good practices of the network. Among others; the experience of the best performing European district, Contarina, the fist town in Europe to declare the Zero Waste goal, Capannori, the impressive results of Gipuzkoa and Hernani, the fantastic Reuse & Repair Centre of Kretsloppsparken and the project the People’s Design Lab.

Other presentations in this forum included the visionary thinker (and doer!) Gunter Pauli, the EU Commisisoner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, the founder of the Repair Café, Martine Postma, the CEO of Circle Economy, Guido Braam and the vicepresident of ACR+, Jean-Pierre Hannequart. All of them can be found further down.

All in all, another little step to redesign consumption and production in Europe whilst phasing out landfilling and incineration.


Janez Potocnik – ENVI Commissioner

Guido Braam – CEO of Circle Economy

Pal Martenson – Kretsloppsparken Goteborg

Joan Marc Simon – Director of Zero Waste Europe

Jean-Pierre Hannequart – VP of ACR+

Martine Postma – Founder of Repair Café

Karolina D’Cuhna – DG Enviornment

Gunter Pauli – Founder of Blue Economy



Christian Hageluken – UMICORE

Martin Vogt – The role of business


To see all the videos and tweets just go here:

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.


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.




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.


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:

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Zero Waste Europe Annual meeting – Bobigny/Paris 31.01 – 1/2.02.2014

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A big Zero Waste gathering will take place in Bobigny, France on January 31, and February 1 and 2.

On 1 February a big public event will take place in the Hotel de Ville of Bobigny . More than 300 people are expected to participate in this event in which the participants will learn what is Zero Waste about, with concrete examples from Zero Waste communities around Europe.

Public authorities, waste experts and representatives of the civil society will share best practices in a meeting which intends to serve as a platform to launch Zero Waste in France and represents a new point of departure for resources and waste management in the country.

On January 31 and Sunday 2 Zero Waste groups from all over Europe will have an internal meeting to prepare the working plan for 2014.

If you wish to participate in the Annual meeting of Zero Waste Europe please register here.

To check the agenda of the public event on February 1 click here.



Previous annual meetings:

2011 – First meeting of ZWE in Brussels
2012 – Annual meeting of ZWE in Gipuzkoa
2013 – Annual meeting of ZWE in Brussels

Slovenia starts walking the Zero Waste path


600 people turned up to watch the movie Trashed last Monday 21st of October in Ljubljana and many stayed to follow the first round table discussion about Zero Waste and Slovenia. It was a great success and a big attendance to what is the beginning of the Zero Waste movement in Slovenia.

Slovenia is the EU country that has seen most progress in waste management in the last years; without being locked by incineration capacity and by constantly reducing landfilling is currently recycling more than 35% of its waste. Moreover, with the implementation of door-to-door separate collection in cities such as Ljubljana and by spreading the source separation of organic waste we should be seeing composting rates go up in the next years. The town of Vrhinka is the best performer in the country and recycles 80% of its waste!

The cherry on the cake is that Slovenia is managing to keep low rates of waste generation with its capital Ljubljana averaging less than 350kg of waste generated by inhabitant, 200kg under the European average. All in all, if it continues in this virtuous path Slovenia is likely to become the EU’s frontrunner in the next years.

However, the path towards Zero Waste will not be an easy ride. Despite the progress made in the last years partly thanks to the flexibility of not having big infrastructures pushing down recycling there have been threats to build incinerators in the country. Luckily it looks like the EU will not use cohesion funds to co-finance the incinerator which will allow growing recycling and composting rates and innovation in the prevention side.

Also, despite good initiatives in the field of home-composting and separate collection of organic waste since its roll-out in 2012 it remains to be seen how the rates will continue to increase. Finally, the application of Extended Producer Responsibility in the country still poses many challenges because the producers refuse to pay for 100% of the collection of the waste they put in the market. However, seeing the interest and passion of the attendants to the screening and the debate one should trust that these challenges will be overtaken soon.


EU Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik addressed the audience after the movie with a recorded message and opened the debate that followed. In this debate participated Dr. Andrej Kržan, from the National Institute of Chemistry; Janko Kramžar, Director of Snaga, Ljubljana’s municipal waste management company; Uroš Macerl, president of the NGO Eko Krog (Eco Circle) and Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe. In the audience there were many people from civil society but also entrepreneurs and progressive waste and social companies which show that many see the economic opportunities that will open if Slovenia decides to walk the Zero Waste path.


Following the example of Zero Waste initiatives in other parts of Europe the organisers, Ecologists without Borders, will now create a platform where policy makers, civil society, NGOs, green companies and waste management sector can work together to phase waste out of the system.

To see the pics of the event click here.

And coverage by national Slovenian TV.
All pictures with rights reserved to

Presenting the Zero Waste strategy to the UN Food & Agriculture Organization

Rossano Ercolini, president of Zero Waste Europe and Goldman Environmental Prize 2013 Winner, will speak about  “Zero Waste strategy” in Rome in the 38th Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Conference on Wednesday June 19th at 03:45 PM.


Wednesday June 19th  – Sustainability

Losing and wasting food in a hungry world

FAO projects that, under current production and consumption trends, global food production must increase 60% by 2050 in order to meet the demands of the growing world population. Yet, more than one third of the food produced today is either lost in the food production cycle – mostly in developing countries – or wasted by consumers in the more affluent societies.

What critical points should be tackled to design an effective food loss reduction strategy?   How can wasteful practices by farmers, food producers, retailers and consumers be discouraged?  What is the environmental impact of food wastage? Can/Should food saved from the waste pathway be used as food aid?

Moderator: Seema Gupta, (France 24)


Cinzia Scaffidi, Slow Food

Robert Van Otterdijk, Fao agro-industry officer, Team leader of “Save the Food” – Global Initiative on Food Losses and Waste Reduction

Rossano Ercolini, Goldman Environmental Prize 2013 Winner & president of Zero Waste Europe

Andrea Segré, Professor of International Agrarian Policies at  BolognaUniversity; President of Last Minute Market

External contributions:

IPS TV Feature: “How leftover can become a meal – the Boroume project” by Apostolis Fotiadis, IPSTV Correspondent from Athens  +Live Skype video call

FAO video on “Reducing food losses in the Gambia”

+ Option: Trailer of Taste the Waste by Valentin Thurm


You can follow the meeting online thanks to web-streaming on

Looking for solutions to single-use coffee-capsules

Since the invention of coffee-capsules we have seen how this potentially recyclable item was filling up more and more waste bins. In places where waste separation is at highest levels -particularly some Zero Waste municipalities in Italy. we have seen how coffee-capsules represent a significant amount of the residual waste -what cannot be or is not recycled or composted-.

To know more about the problem of the coffee capsules you can see a previous post here. Since then the Zero Waste Research Center in Capannori has been working to find solutions to this problem and reduce even more the size of the waste bin. In order to have an open debate on the issue it has organised a national meeting in which the most important coffee producers and distributors will gather in Capannori on March 22 and 23 to discuss alternatives.

In this event there will be a coffee tasting of coffee produced with different systems and a round table with Kompresso srl, ETI srl, IMS spa, Goglio spa, COOP Italia and Illy Cafe.

We will publish a report with the results of the meeting.

ZW meeting cafe

Potocnik: “Zero Waste is the right aspiration”

Potocnik & Irons

More than two hundred people including members of the European Parliament, mayors and local decision-makers, European Commission, the European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik and the famous actor Jeremy Irons participated in the first Zero Waste Europe conference in the European Parliament on March 7.

“Zero waste might be an ambitious goal in our highly industrialised societies; but it is the right aspiration” said commissioner Potocnik talking a packed room. Reaffirming the commitment of the Commission to phase out landfilling and burning of recyclable waste by 2020. “No new landfills should be built in Europe (…) incineration is not optimal in the mid term” continued the Commissioner who warned that member states should be careful with building incineration overcapacity.

“In order to meet the objectives of the Resource Efficiency Roadmap the EU will have to reduce disposal and increase recycling at 5% annual rate until 2020. This is a major leap forward that cannot be achieved with the current legal framework.” said Joan Marc Simon, executive director of Zero Waste Europe. “Eurostat shows how recycling is stagnating in Europe and incineration is going up; we need to change the drivers if we don’t want the EU to waste one more decade”.

Jumping  from recycling rates of 20% to 80% in a short period of time is perfectly  possible when there is the political will and the implication of the citizens. This is what the experience from Capannori, first Zero Waste town in Europe, and the province of Gipuzkoa proved with concrete practical zero waste experiences.


Zero Waste goes to the European Parliament in Brussels!

Poster conference EP

It was about time to bring the Zero Waste ideas to the European institutions. With the help of the Green group in the European Parliament and with the support of the other parliamentary groups and the European Commission this conference will demonstrate to policy-makers that the Zero Waste is already an ongoing evolution.

The event will count with the active participation of the European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, many relevant members of the European Parliament but also the actor and producer Jeremy Irons and the director of the movie Trashed Candida Brady.

Good practices that will be presented include the case of the first European municipality to declare Zero Waste, Capannori in Italy, and the experience of the province of Gipuzkoa in the Spanish Basque Country. Also, local experiences such as the Zero Waste office in Brussels, the Zero Waste shop of Effecorta in Italy, the Zero Waste Fashion of Reet Aus from Estonia, the experience of the Zero Waste family in the UK or the funniest Reuse and leisure park in Europe Kretslopp park from Sweden. Also on better design, the Cradle to Cradle Foundation will present its work in designing better products and materials that can either biodegrade or be endlessly recycled.

To check the program click here. To register for the conference please click here




NO time to WASTE

–          European topsoils suffer increasing erosion when most organic waste is still landfilled or incinerated,

–          90 million tons of food is wasted annually in Europe when 80 million of Europeans live under the poverty line,

–          European unemployment continues to grow when 400,000 jobs could be created only with implementation of current waste legislation,

–          Europe is increasingly dependent on land and raw materials from abroad when most electric and electronic waste is not recycled,

–          Still 60% of EU’s waste is landfilled or incinerated…


The European Resource Efficiency Roadmap puts Europe on the road to Zero Waste to incineration and landfill; aiming at phasing out landfill and incineration of recyclable waste by 2020.


Yet, still today market incentives reward disposal, recovery and waste export before recycling and prevention, investments go to oversized disposal infrastructures when upper levels of the hierarchy such as prevention or reuse are underfunded.


HOW to pave the road to Zero Waste

Creating a low-carbon, resource efficient economy whilst respecting biodiversity and increasing the social cohesion is one of the main challenges of the EU of today. The Zero Waste strategy is an essential part of this enterprise for it can provide jobs, bring nutrients back to the soils, help close the material loop and reduce European dependency on imports, reduce the environmental impact associated to waste disposal, drive innovation in product design and last but not least involve the citizens in designing a better Europe.


On one hand Zero Waste requires community responsibility to reduce, separate, collect and treat the waste. On the other hand it also requires industrial responsibility to design and produce better, more durable, recyclable, energy efficient products. Policy-making at EU level is crucial in influencing both and this is why this conference has been organised.


The aim of the Zero Waste conference: Beyond Recycling: Best practices on Resource and Waste management is to bring in front of decision-makers practical examples of how it is possible to transition from a wasteful society to a resource efficient economy in only a few years. Proving that it is possible to achieve high recycling rates and reduce waste generation provided the political will and the right policies are in place.


If you are not for Zero Waste… how much waste are you for?


A Zero Waste world? Let’s Do It!

how much waste are you for

From 1st to 3rd of February 175 -mostly- young people from all over the world met in Estonia to talk rubbish and ended up talking about zero waste 🙂

The Let’sDoItWorld movement has so far managed to mobilise 7 million people from 95 different countries do clean their landscape in what has become the most important clean-up ever accomplished. Yet, after some years of intensive cleaning these volunteers have had enough. Having seen that forests and rivers get dirty again decided to explore what would it take to really have a clean planet.

In order to find out a group of high-level experts from all walks of life were invited by the president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves (in the picture above with the Zero Waste flag), and the “visionary” of the LetsDoIt movement, Rainer Nolvak, to brainstorm during 2 days what kind of actions can be done in order to clean the planet. It was clear that in order to change the planet the first thing to do is rethink the way we do things and design better products that can be either recycled back into the system or can biodegrade without polluting the environment. Then good politics should lead to good separate collection and good waste treatment that closes the material cycle, not leaving anything to go to waste. In a nutshell; apply the zero waste philosophy!

Participants LDIW

Inspiring renowned speakers such as Dr Elisabet Sahtorius, Dr Leandro Herrero or Muna Lakhani laid the ground for fruitful exchanges about how to make the global change possible.

The conference was an incredible experience that provided the opportunity to people to meet, network, colaborate and above all share their dreams for a better world.

Message to take home: nature makes no waste and nature knows no borders, we humans have invented both and it is our duty to free the world from them. With people like those who assisted this event the impossible is possible. A Zero Waste world? Let’s Do It!


Succesful launch of Zero Waste Romania in Cluj Napoca

During October 19 and 20 an International Zero Waste meeting took place in Cluj Napoca, Romania. This was the first event to promote Zero Waste in the country and it succeeded in bringing together national and local stakeholders including activists, waste experts and operators, ecodesign specialists, city planners and architects, public authorities, policy-makers with the participation of international observers.

The meeting set p solid grounds for collaboration between all the main stakeholders in order to create long term sustainable change. In this context, the waste industry and policy-makers took note of the importance of moving towards a closed-loop circular economy.

Representatives of the Green Building Council showed very practical examples of how to reuse construction materials in renovations or new buildings, especially the importance of using toxic-free materials thinking about the deconstruction process.

Local organisations showed how it is possible to have a zero waste catering with products sourced from the region following also the km0and sustainable approach.

Also, other enterpreneurial activities were presented. For instance a new Romanian start-up company called trezy presented its reusable nappies locally produced and chemical and plastic-free which will save more than one ton landfills per new-born in the region.

During the meeting it was highlighted the fact that despite the low recycling rates, Romania, and especially the region of Cluj-Napoca with only 700gr of waste generate per person per day, is more sustainable than many northern countries that might recycle more in percentage but generate more than twice as much waste per person. Therefore, the challenge for Central and Eastern Europe is about increasing reuse, composting and recycling as much as it is keeping -and reducing!- the low levels of waste generation.

As a result of the meeting some Zero Waste pilot projects will be proposed for Romania and it was established good colaboration between the network of Transition Towns, Permaculture, Green Building as well as with the University of Cluj-Napoca and some pioneer companies.

The presentations of the meeting can be found here.

The association of Italian Zero Waste towns has been created

In a meeting celebrated in Capannori on October 13 representatives from 16 Italian regions agreed to formally constitute the Association of Italian Zero Waste Towns.

Currently 107 towns in Italy alone have committed to move towards Zero Waste and phase out landfilling and incineration. The latest significant city to join the network is the city of Parma which has seen a spectacular turn-around thanks to the popular mobilisation.

After an intense debate the statutes of the organisation were unanimously approved and in the next meeting the governing bodies will be elected.

During the event Pr. Paul Connett went through the story of the Zero Waste International Movement and identified California and Italy as the most important focus of development of this philosophy.

Besides Parma other new Italian towns to the sign on to Zero Waste pledge were Altavilla Milicia -PA in Sicily, Civita Castellana-VT from Lazio, Parma in Emilia Romagna region and Crescentino,Crova, Fontanetto Po, San Germano, Santhià, Tronzano Vercellese-VR in Piemonte.

For more info see Zero Waste Italy

Breaking the Barriers to Zero Waste: The Role of the Community

Join the UK Zero Waste Alliance to end waste through community action.


This conference will bring together people from across the UK to  understand how we can work together to change the way we think about “waste” and to challenge the systems that create it.   Whilst we still need to change our waste habits, it’s hard to zero our waste when many areas don’t have good kerbside collections,  there is a mountain of packaging on our food and wall-to-wall adverts urging us to buy.     Where are the main areas that the community can make a difference?   What works? And how we can make more impact by working together through community action.


Zero Waste Alliance UK Conference and AGM, 11.00- 3pm Saturday 10th November

Greenpeace, Canonbury Villas, Islington, London N1 2PN

The conference will be followed by a short AGM to which all are welcome.


Please click here to reserve your free place


Speakers from Wastewatch, Bioregional, Cwm Harry, Rubbish Diet, Transition Town Shrewsbury.

Florence Zero Waste Altermeeting: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and REDESIGN

The inclusion of the 4 R to the group of the old “big 3” is one of the main conclusions of the Zero Waste Altermeeting that took place in Florence from 15 to 17 September.
Indeed, more than 60 speakers of the highest level (including academia, researchers, policy-makers, businesses and activists) agreed that instead of using the best minds to design machines to destroy resources such as incinerators and landfills our efforts should go to Redesign the way our economy works in a way that it is possible to Reduce the size of our waste-bin, Reuse as much as possible and Recycle what is left. The R to Redesign waste out of the system was one of the stars of the gathering.
The conference served to present a big number of Zero Waste projects and local solutions to Redesign, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle waste. For instance Claudio Germans CEO of DISMECO explained how in his company they manage to recover up to 98% of the materials in used washing machines and how that has created 30 new jobs. In the services sector the organisation of Zero Waste Hotels in the Island of Capri presented how they have practically phased out waste from their hotels. Also, a number of virtuous municipalities such as Capannori and Monterspertoli presented their successful collection systems. Right now only in Italy 91 municipalities (representing 2,5 million people) have adhered to the Zero Waste goal!
Besides Italy, on Monday there were a number of international speakers explaining interesting experiences from around the world. The meeting was a success with the participation of hundreds of people from several different backgrounds and geographical origins during the 3 days of the conference. The message to the city of Florence and to the region of Tuscany was clear: your region is one of the pioneers in Zero Waste in the world with Capannori as first European town to declare the goal of Zero Waste for 2020, follow the example and lead the road to a world without waste No-burn, no-bury there is a better way!


For a more in depth report in Italian click here

Zero Waste Altermeeting in Florence, September 2012

The Italian Zero Waste network & GAIA  is organising a national and international conference in Florence from 15th to 17th of September 2012. The event is organised at the same time as the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) World Solid Waste Meeting in order to send a message to the waste industry to move away from incinerators and landfills and embrace the Zero Waste concept. NO BURN, NO BURY there is a better way!

The goal of this Zero Waste conference is to share the latest best practices from Europe and the world on the 5 Rs; REDUCE, REPAIR, REUSE, RECYCLE & REDESIGN showing that another way to manage waste is possible.

The three days conference will gather more than 50 speakers from Italy and the world and will bring together social movements, policy-makers, waste experts and innovators. To see the draft programme click here.


Succesful ZWE congress in Donostia!

Last weekend the Congress of Zero Waste Europe was held in Gipuzkoa. Representatives from all over Europe together with guests from the US and India came together to exchange best practices and define next steps for the Zero Waste movement in Europe.

The event was a success of participation and also media coverage; 30 international representatives from all over Europe, more than 30 mayors, including the mayor of San Sebastian, the top regional authorities including the first councilor of Gipuzkoa and the councilor for the Environment, as well as many local zero waste activists and citizens. All in all, during the 3 days of the event more than 300 people assisted the ZWE congress!

During the event the participants visited succesful experiences such as Usurbil and Hernani, leading separate collection municipalities in the peninsula as acknowledged by the website of the spanish ministry of environment.

The city of San Sebastian welcomed the Zero Waste guests with an open conference in the  City Hall which was filled to the brim to listen to Professor Paul Connett during almost 3 hours.

One full day was devoted to lectures, debates and workshops in which it was discussed how to implement zero waste policies, how to evaluate them and how to bring people together to build a world without waste.

In this occasion there were presentations from the Italian, Catalan and Basque zero waste networks but many new groups expressed interest to start building zero waste networks in their home countries.

The Zero Waste Europe network committed to continue rallying municipalities around the Zero Waste goal, to promote certification of Zero Waste companies in Europe and to motivate the youth to join the movement to free their future from waste.

Zero Waste Europe Congress in Gipuzkoa

Program in Euskera click here.

Complete program in English click here.



Friday 10th

Friday morning – visit to Usurbil & Hernani pioneer municipalities in Gipuzkoa in the implementation of door-to-door separate collection with results of more than 85% waste diversion.

19h Open Conference in the Donostia City Hall:

On the road to Zero Waste – a new paradigm in resource and waste management

Dr Paul Connett, Professor Chemistry at St Lawrence University

19h Open Conference in Arrasate – Mancomunidad de Debagoiena: The Zero Waste experience in Europe
Joan Marc Simon, Coordinator Zero Waste Europe

Saturday 11th

Casa de Cultura del Palacio de Aiete (Donostia-San Sebastian)

–          Welcome by the Diputación de Gipuzkoa – Juan Karlos Alduntzin, Diputado de Medio Ambiente Diputación de Gipuzkoa.

–          10 steps to  Zero Waste, a strategy for municipalities – Dr. Paul Connett, Prof. St Lawrence University.

–          Experiences of optimisation of separate collection schemes and maximisation of material recovery and biological stabilisation of residual Waste before landfill – Enzo Favoino, Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza (SAPM).

–          Presentation of experience of Italian Zero Waste municipalities – Rossano Ercolini, coordinator of Italian network of Zero Waste municipalities.

–          Presentation of experience of Catalan Zero Waste municipality. Josep-Lluís Moner, member of Catalan Zero Waste Strategy.

–          Presentation of experience of municipality in Euskal Herria – Xabier Mikel Errekondo, Member of the Spanish Parliament and former mayor of Usurbil.

–          Building a European network of Zero Waste municipalities – Joan Marc Simon, Coordinator of Zero Waste Europe.


Afternoon and Sunday 13th: Internal Congress Zero Waste Europe


Annual Zero Waste Europe meeting in Gipuzkoa – 11-13th May 2012

The European network of Zero Waste groups will be meeting in Donosti (San Sebastian), spanish Basque country, from 11th to 13th May 2012.

This meeting will bring together activists, waste experts & policy-makers from all over Europe with the participation of observers from outside the continent.

This event will combine site-visits with public events and internal debates.

We will visit the best-practices of Hernani and Usurbil, municipalities who pioneered door-to-door separate collection in the basque country and now collect more than 85% of its waste separately allowing for very high recycling and composting rates.

There will be public conferences with experts in Zero Waste strategies such a Dr Paul Connett, Enzo Favoino or Rossano Ercolini who will share the experience and the details of a Zero Waste with citizens and policy-makers.

And last but not least there will be the meeting of the Zero Waste network in Europe where we will discuss strategy for the next year, approve indicators to measure progress to Zero Waste, present best practices from different local experiences and prepare common cross-border projects.

If you are running a Zero Waste project, if you are interested to know more about Zero Waste, if you want to link to other Zero Waste networks in other countries you are most welcome to join. Places are limited. May you want to participate you can register here. Deadline is April 16th!

To check the programme of the meeting click here.

Organised by:

Succesful Zero Waste event in Rome

Organised by Zero Waste Lazio with the support of the Italian Zero Waste Network

Last weekend the Piazza Apostoli in Rome was filled with more than 3000 people who were asking for a Zero Waste alternative to the “Polverini local plan” which instead of reducing, reusing, composting and recycle wants to dispose of most of it.

The alternative plan proposed by the citizens puts separate collection at the center of the policy; recycling and composting what cannot be prevented or reduced and instead of resorting to mega landfills and incinerators for the remaining waste (10 to 12% of the total) it proposes that this waste should be studied and submitted to cold-treatment prior being biologically stabilized and stored in a landfill.

The Zero Waste demonstration asked not to replace the now closing dump of Malagrotta with a new mega landfill elsewhere in the Lazio province. Instead it is requested that the municipality of Rome, which represents 5/6 of the total municipal waste generated in the Lazio region, should implement door-to-door separate collection integrated with a system of reuse, repair and recycling centers.

The Italian Zero Waste Network is asking for the immediate replacement of the people responsible for this mismanagement and the return of a democratic logic that should bring back the power to the local communities and institutions.

The Italian Zero Waste network will be back to Rome on December 3rd to move forward with the local Zero Waste organisation to continue pushing for these goals. In this occasion there will be participation from people from international Zero Waste speaker, Paul Connett.

On behalf of the Italian Zero Waste network
Rossano Ercolini

“Beautiful politics is when the politicians work with the activists” – Zero Waste international meeting in Capannori

More than 200 participants including mayors, councillors, enterpreneurs, artists, waste experts and civil society participated last weekend 8-9th October in the first international Zero Waste meeting for municipalities.


The path that started 4 years ago by Capannori, when mirroring itself with San Francisco decided to declare the Zero Waste goal for 2020, is now followed by 56 municipalities (the objective for the Zero Waste Italy network of municipalities is to reach 100 ZW municipalities for 2012) . What started as a grass-root movement that no political party wanted to support is gaining political momentum across the political spectrum. The last incorporation to the ZW network was the city of Naples, the vice-mayor of which attended the gathering and declared the commitment of the recently elected city-council to turn around the bad image of Naples. Indeed, the change has come to Naples where for the moment 165.000hab are being the first ones to experience the door-to-door separate collection system with encouraging results of 66% separate collection. The plan is to slowly expand the new system around Naples and show the world that if ZW is possible in Naples it should be possible anywhere.


The meeting included impressive presentations from the city of San Francisco but also succesful experiences from Sweden, Wales, Catalonia and the Basque Country, Spain. The town of Hernani in the Basque Country after only 2 years of implementation of the door-to-door collection system saw the recycling levels more than double and now stands at 80% showing the Zero Waste path in the Gipuzkoa region.


During the meeting the documentary “Zero Waste” from Victor Ibañez was screened for the first time and the plan is to screen broadly around Italy. Below you can see the trailer.


During the second day the meeting of the Zero Waste Research Centre focused on the topic of bad-design; following the composition analysis of the fraction that could not be recycled and has to be sent for disposal. The participants discussed with the experts possible alternatives to take out of the residual waste (the waste that cannot be recycled) nappies, shoes, coffee-capsules and some plastics.


Thanks to the Zero Waste strategy Capannori has been the cradle to successful experiences that are now being replicated elsewhere; packaging-free shops such as Effecorta (which is now opening in other places in Italy), reusable nappies companies such as Ecobimbi, reuse and repair centres such as the ASCIT center inaugurated this last weekend by the mayor of Capannori and the vice-mayor of Naples. The last initiative is the re-shuffling of the shoe-making industry, one of its most traditional ones, with the design of long-lasting, toxic-free shoes with biodegradable soles. The parts of these shoes can easily be separated in order to increase the recycling potential. The goal is to keep and increase local jobs with good salaries.

All in all, a very inspiring meeting that continued to increase the commitment, the motivation and reach-out of the Zero Waste thinking in Europe!

“Waste is a mistake, not a Resource” – ZW conference in Coventry, England

On September 9th, representatives from UK central government, local authorities and universities gathered together in Coventry along with social enterprises, multinationals, waste management companies, the third sector and environmental bodies, to explore how UK society can create a proper zero waste economy in line with aspirations for 2020.

For many, zero waste translates as ‘zero waste to landfill’, but a strong message that was made clear at today’s conference was that a zero waste goal should be exactly what it says…simply ZERO waste, achieved through innovations that design out waste during manufacture and a society that promotes reuse and technologies that enable precious resources to be properly recycled rather than the assumption that the simplest destination for residual waste is to be burned with no other opportunity for recovery.

Anyone who has any doubts over whether this zero waste vision could become a reality, should consult with American waste campaigner Professor Paul Connett, pictured above, who presents a strong case for product redesign, economic incentives, community empowerment and the development of separation & research facilities at landfill\incineration sites, as being vital components in making it work.

And the key to success is everyone in the chain working together to drive the results forward. Coventry University, which already runs 50 courses in sustainability and the environment, revealed plans to create a Zero Waste research centre, working closely with the local authority.

Today’s programme also presented examples of industry’s approach to creating zero waste through manufacturing processes and facilities management as well as examplers of community-based programmes and waste stream development.

The presentation by Garden Organic’s Myles Bremner particularly struck a chord, as it was one of the strongest case studies for how individuals can make a difference, not only regarding reducing their own waste, but by empowering their communities. Through the Master Composter scheme, Garden Organics has been successful in creating a peer-to-peer network, where members of the public are able to help others, by sharing their expertise locally.

Although this event was organised independently of National Zero Waste Week, it was a welcome coincidence and well-timed for this week’s calendar. It would have been news to most of those who attended today’s conference that this week is indeed the 4th national awareness week of its kind.

The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs attended the event and stayed for a short while following her keynote speech. Although the government is placing waste prevention high on its agenda and has created a path towards a zero waste economy, the conference demonstrated that it needs to work harder and be tougher on manufacturing to design out waste and solutions for maximising the waste that remains.


Mal Williams, CEO of the Welsh community recycling network Clych, who also spoke at today’s conference, really couldn’t have put the point more bluntly.

“Waste is a mistake, not a resource,” he asserted and referring to how society goes forward, he added that it is time to move from a “Careless system to a CAREFUL system”.

And I have to agree, this should be the barometer against which a sustainable zero waste strategy should be measured and judged.

(This post is an adaptation from The Rubbbish Diet)

Meeting of Zero Waste municipalities in Capannori, Italy, 7-8-9th October 2011

More and more European municipalities are adopting the Zero Waste goal. This is why a meeting will be held in the craddle of Zero Waste in Italy, Capannori, to organise the coordination -national and international- of the Zero Waste Communities.

The meeting will take place from the 7th to 9th October and will include the presentation of the books Zero Rifiuti, by Marinella Correggia, and Il Libro dello Spreco in Italia, by Luca Falasconi-Andrea Segré, the screening of the movie Zero Waste, by Victor Ibanez.

Representatives from more than 50 italian municipalities will be present in the meeting. With representatives from the Zero Waste program of the city of San Francisco, US, from the Spanish municipalities of Hernani, Basque Country, and El Papiol, Catalonia, and also from Sweden and England .

Finally there will be a meeting of the Zero Waste Research Center, which was established in Capannori a year ago, in which innovative ideas to change product design (such as coffee capsules, shoes, packaging, diapers…) will be discussed.

To see the program click here.

Experiences from Zero Waste Europe presented at the annual CRRA conference in California

From July 31st to August 3rd the California Resource Recovery Association celebrated its 35th annual conference in San Diego, California.
California is the US state with most advance waste and resource management, with San Francisco leading the way with its 75% diversion rate and aiming at Zero Waste for 2020.
In this conference a delegation from Zero Waste Europe from three countries (Italy, Spain and Sweden) presented best European practices in Zero Waste. All in all more than 150 speakers filled the 3 day conference with best practices, information, education and concerted action.


We were surprised to see how Zero Waste plans are being approved all over the board in the state of California. With active campaigns to ban styrofoam and plastic bags, innovative prevention measures and committed companies complementing local administration.

This year a special award went to Captain Charles Moore for his work on the mapping and studying the plastic debris polluting the oceans. We had the chance to board his boat and accompany him to take water samples in the Tijuana bay. The worrying state of water pollution in the Pacific Ocean –with a plastic soup as big as Europe- and how that is affecting sealife. The pollution and depletion of fishstocks is behind the most progressive decisions in California to stop waste from polluting the seas.

Furthermore there were a good number of new Zero Waste initiatives such as a companies that organise Zero Waste events, shops that don’t use any packaging (the American version of the Italian Effecorta and the English Unpackaged ) or campaigns to spread bottle bills.
The event was a very useful event to strengthen the links between the US and European Zero Waste movements.


Zero Waste growing in the UK

Last Saturday 17th of April 2011 took place in London the annual meeting of the Zero Waste Alliance UK with participants coming from Scotland, Wales and England.

Among the participants there were activists, academics, professional recyclers, social enterpreneurs, politicians and average citizens interested in the topic and it showed the growing interest for the Zero Waste philosophy in the country.

The meeting served to strategise about future plans of the Zero Waste Alliance UK and it also elected a new board and directors.

Among other speakers there was the Zero Waste pioneer, Robin Murray, an industrial economist author of the book “Creating Wealth from Waste” published in 1999 and reference for the Zero Waste philosophy. All in all it was a very stimulating event that laid the ground for a year of expansion of Zero Waste in the country.

Excerpt from Chapter 14 of the book “Creating Wealth from Waste” from Robin Murray:

A programme for zero waste

1. The economic playing field must be rebalanced. The hierarchy of profitability must match the environmental hierarchy. This can be done by revising waste taxes and public benefits in three ways: o introducing a disposal tax that reflects the environmental hierarchy o cutting the subsidies presently given to incineration o introducing a price guarantee scheme for recycled materials to fund the build-up costs of four stream recycling.

2. The £550 million raised in waste taxes must be re-channelled to a Zero Waste Fund. This requires: o a change in the landfill tax regulations so that the 20 per cent offsets are paid into the publicly-run recycling fund o earmarking a further 20 per cent to support employment and environmental goals through recycling o amending the packaging recovery regulations so that payments by the ‘obligated parties’ are channelled to recycling collectors.

3. Establishing a Zero Waste Agency to administer the transitional funds and ‘animate’ the change.

4. Founding a new type of Green Academy, equivalent to the German technical schools of the mid-nineteenth century. It would be charged with developing organisational forms, knowledge and skills relevant to zero waste, and new ways of generating ‘distributed intelligence’. Its curricula and priorities would be set by the needs thrown up by the new environmental systems. Hence its research, teaching and skill formation would be linked closely to ground level projects – following the approach of the Ulm School of Design – and provide learning resources to those in or outside employment.

5. Appointing Zero Waste Advisers – some recruited from leading recycling and reduction projects overseas – to advise on recycling schemes and projects. The group would be part of an international network, promoting exchanges and part-time attachments, and linking into practitioners’ associations.

6. The launch of a ‘Closed Loop Industrialisation’ Initiative, promoting the development of secondary materials industries, ecodesign and hazard reduction technologies. In addition to material productivity, it would aim to promote ‘de-scaling’ technologies suitable for local and regional economies. It would be organised in conjunction with regional development agencies.

7. The extension of producer responsibility into new fields, not only electrical and electronics appliances, end-of-life vehicles and tyres, but other durable equipment, newspapers, and hazardous products and materials. The weight of responsibility should be placed at the point of product and process design, since they have the greatest capacity to develop alternatives. In each case, the finance contributed by producers should be re-channelled to develop the alternatives.

8. Devolving responsibility for waste disposal to districts, through direct payments for the costs of disposal (rather than property-based precepts) and giving districts responsibility for identifying and negotiating disposal options within their own boundaries or with neighbouring districts. This would represent the proximity principle with teeth.

9. Restoring public confidence in wade management and democratising risk through: planning reform to give financial support and access to information to civil groups and neighbourhoods affected by waste proposals; a new culture of openness in regulatory bodies; an independent waste hazards control advisory body; and an environmental freedom of information provision.

10. A govemment-led commitment to the zero waste target ‘within a generation’, reflected in the above measures and the adoption of tighter targets to ‘reduce with the aim of eliminating’ mixed waste disposal by 2010. This would include a phased ban on organic waste in landfills and on landfilling or incinerating hazard-producing materials, and a moratorium of new mixed waste incinerators for five years.

Meeting in Brussels of NGOs promoting the Zero Waste strategy for Europe

On Monday 14th of March more than 30 people coming from 13 European countries –Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, UK, Czech Republic, Rumania, Spain and Hungary- got together in the first meeting to define the Zero Waste strategy for Europe. The event was organised by GAIA and EEB.

During the day there were debates about what does Zero Waste actually mean in Europe and the need for the NGO community to set the agenda for waste and resource management for the future. That is proposing to go beyond a recycling society towards a Zero Waste society. It was emphasized that Zero Waste is a journey, not a destination.

The main difference between a recycling society and a zero waste society is the emphasis put on reducing the residual fraction. Zero Waste means maximising recycling but it also means minimising the residual fraction, aiming at phasing out landfilling, incineration and any other disposal option.

Zero Waste is an alternative to traditional waste management because it aims not to manage waste but to phase it out so that the refuse of a process is the raw material for a new process. For this reason Zero Waste can also aim at social and economic regeneration, at bringing the carbon back to the soils, at guaranteing to the consumers the power to choose and at bringing environmental justice to the way we manage our common resources.

In the afternoon there were presentation of Zero Waste experiences from the Italian, UK and Catalan zero waste networks. In Italy there are already 25 municipalities commiting to zero waste and the Zero Waste Research center in Capannori is already in operation with succesful experiences in suggesting redesign operations.

This meeting set up the framework for future cooperation between european NGOs and replication of best practices. The Zero Waste strategy is starting to spread all over the EU!

Constitution of the Catalan Zero Waste strategy (Residu Zero) in Barcelona

Following the example of Italy and the UK, last Friday 4th of March took place in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, the succesful launch of the Zero Waste catalan strategy!

More than a hundred people representing local organisations, companies, universities and research centers gathered for a whole day to discuss the goals and aims and set up the forum for a Zero Waste strategy in Catalonia. Note that in Spain the waste management is a delegated competence and Catalonia –like any other spanish autonomous region can decide on waste management-.

This initiative was possible thanks to the colaboration of all catalan universities, the association of municipalities for door-to-door collection, municipalities already developing the model of “Residu Mínim” (minimum waste) and the local and international organisations such as GAIA, CAPS, Ecologistes de Catalunya, Cepa and other members of the steering committee.

In the conference we had the chance to learn about the best zero waste practices in the world (such as San Francisco in the US or Kovalam in India) as well as european best practices such as the first European Zero Waste town; Capannori. Rossano Ercolini from the Rete Italiana di Rifiuti Zero and head of the Zero Waste Research Center in Capannori was present to explain the success of the italian experience.

The “Estratègia Catalana pel Residu Zero” (the Catalan Zero Waste Strategy) will organise sinergies between academics, practitioners, policy-makers and civil society to channel the change of paradigm from a recycling society towards a zero waste society. In this sense, the catalan ZW strategy wants to advance in the direction of a more efficient management of resources, more environmental justice and de-carbonisation of the economy.

The Catalan Zero Waste strategy is born in a context of insustainability in the management of municipal, construction and demolition and industrial waste.

Catalonia, despite very good scattered practices of high separate collection in some towns, still sends 70% of its waste to disposal which represents a clear inneficient use of materials, a lot of avoidable GHG emissions and a threat for the health of the citizens.

The solution is not to build new incinerators or burn municipal waste in cement kilns but rather to work on the replication of the best practices of separate collection (in some cases above 80%) in order to increase prevention and recycling.
A change of paradigm is necessary and this is exactly what the citizen driven Catalan Zero Waste strategy pursues.

In the meeting it was discussed that Zero Waste meant:
– Advancing towards a circular economy in which waste can become the raw material of the future,
– Avoid the generation of any waste that can be avoided
– Ban the disposal of any waste that can be reused, recycled or composted
– The redesign and substitution of those wastes which can’t be reused, recycled or composted.

The Catalan Zero Waste strategy proposes to:

1. Invert the tendency and instead of disposing of 70% and recycling 30% reverse the trend and move towards recycling 70% and disposing of 30% for 2020. Zero Waste -less than 10kg of residual waste per capita- for 2030.

2. Set up a network of organisations, institutions, companies and universities to plan and implement this change of paradigm.

3. Promote the best local and international practices of source separation, separate collection, waste prevention, etc so that they can be replicated elsewhere in Catalonia.

4. Promote innovation in the production and legislative process in view of creating the right climate for a zero waste strategy.

5. Create a Zero Waste Research Center in which the residuals can be examined to detect failures in the design which justify a substitution for a newly designed recyclable product.

The most important thing of the event, besides the high attendance and motivation from all sectors of society, was the commitment of the participants and the concreteness on the next steps to take to make it possible to advance towards a Zero Waste future.

Zero Waste initiative in Coventry, England

Here we have an example of an inclusive Zero Waste initiative which brings together the actors of society to organise the phasing out of waste from our societay. In October 1999, at a public meeting to discuss greener low carbon alternatives to a proposal of a giant waste incinerator, Coventry’s Director of City Development, John Mc Guigan, proposed the challenge of finding a long-term solution for waste which would be both economically and environmentally viable.

Over 2010 the 2020 “Zero Waste Initiative” has begun to take shape. It has drawn people together from the main areas involved or interested in developping “waste” as a resource. Over a hundred people have attended meetings and have come from public bodies such as WRAP and DEFRA, local business and commerce, environment and recycling groups, garden organic, councillors and officers, community groups, professional bodies and academics from the two local universities. There were several meetings over the year and in one of them the “Building Research and Innovation Networks” (BRAIN) Department at Coventry University produced the following 5min video in which Professor Paul Connett describes the basis of a proper Zero Waste strategy.

Florianopolis is hosting the 7th International Conference Zero waste

Florianopolis, October 14, 2010 – The state capital of Santa Catarina was the Brazilian city chosen to host the 7th International Conference on Zero Waste, Zero Waste by the Institute in partnership with Brazil’s Zero Waste International Alliance and Environmental Novociclo. On 28 and 29 October, Thursday and Friday, Florianópolis discuss the “Zero Waste Solutions for managing discarded resources, eliminating waste and pollution, creating new jobs, sustainablity and self reliance.

There are international experts, representatives of the private sector, academia, NGOs and politicians from federal, state and local sustainability programs that will discuss and present case studies of policies and projects, as well as actions that have worked in national and international scene. All events will be held at the Multipurpose Center Hotel Cacupé SESC.

Speakers include the Chair of the Zero Waste International Alliance , Richard V. Anthony and representatives from Zero Waste United Kingdom, Zero Waste South Africa, Zero Waste Italy, Zero Waste Canada, Zero Waste Philippines and a delegation from Zero Waste California as well as local experts.

Entries can be made through the site until October 25. The conference is targeted at students, researchers and professionals in Brazil and abroad in areas of design, architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture, biology, sociology, environment, education, public administration and engineering and representatives of civil society organizations that have a relationship directly or indirectly with urban planning, design, construction, management of a sustainable built environments, urban or rural.

Office Communications 7 th Conference internacionl zero waste
Juliana Guimarães
(48) 91210972
7th International Conference Zero Waste 28 and 29 October – Thursday and Friday
Multipurpose Center Hotel SESC Cacupé Florianópolis – SC
Registration and information:
or 55 (48) 3025-1134

Press information:

Gustavo Abdalla- (48) 3025 5899

Join the conference on facebook and twitter:!/novociclo?ref=search