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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Going Beyond Recycling Towards a Zero Waste Future

Source: The Guardian
Try to picture three big trucks full of garbage and you will have a rough idea of the amount of solid waste produced by every man, woman and child every year.  It is estimated that in Europe alone, we produce 3 billion tons of waste each year and almost 90 million tons of this is hazardous to the environment.  These numbers go beyond logic.  It is clear that we need to tame the monster we have created.

Recycling has always been one of the solutions.  It reduces the amount of waste produced by putting it back into the production line.  But what if we were to go beyond recycling?  How about completely redesigning the resource lifecycles to make all products reusable?  How about preventing waste from being manufactured in the first place?  Or landfilling and incinerating the minimum and turning today’s waste insanity into more sustainable action? 

This vision is driving the Zero Waste Movement.  It is a philosophy, a methodology and a process that promotes a personal, political and cost-effective choice which drives waste production towards zero. 

If all this sounds like a mumbo jumbo utopia theory, here is a reality check.  In 2009, the Municipality of Capanori in Southern Italy was the first Italian Municipality to join the Zero Waste Strategy for 2020.  According to Mayor Giorgio del Ghingaro, the municipality has reduced its waste by 35% in the last years.  Moreover, 82% of their waste production ends is separated and recycled.  Incentives from the local authority, active citizen participation, political will, persuasion and passion were the main ingredients for this success.  They did not receive any incentives from the EU or Italy.  It was a question of commitment.  Following this example, more than 120 municipalities in Italy have committed to the zero waste target showing how a good idea can go viral.

For more information and inspiring stories, check out Zero Waste Europe.

Blog by Zoe Volioti

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