|(Click to enlarge)|
On Monday 14 March 2011, more than 30 people from 13 European countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, UK, Czech Republic, Romania, Spain and Hungary – came together for the first time, to define a 'Zero Waste Strategy' for Europe. The event was organised by GAIA and EEB.
Throughout the day, there were debates about the meaning of 'Zero Waste in Europe' and the need for the NGO community to set the agenda for waste and resource management for the future. That is, moving the focus beyond becoming a recycling society, towards becoming 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, i.e. the percentage of waste that cannot be recycled or reused. Zero Waste means maximising recycling, but it also means minimising the residual part of waste so as to phase out the need for 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 putting carbon back in the soil, and at bringing environmental justice to the way we manage our common resources.
In the afternoon, there were presentations 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 Centre in Capannori is already in operation, with successful experience in redesigning operations.
This meeting set up the framework for future cooperation between European NGOs, and for replication of best practices. The Zero Waste goal is starting to take hold, all over the EU!