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Zero Waste

Zero Waste strategy takes form in Barcelona

https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2016/07/zero-waste-news-from-barcelona/

On the July 14th, civil society organisations, schools, companies in the waste sector and public institutions met to initiate a ‘Strategy for Barcelona to go towards Zero Waste’. The main challenges of waste management in Barcelona were presented as starting point.

The Fundació per a la Preveció de Residus i Consum, a Zero Waste Europe member, participates actively in the design of the new strategy.

Food bridge (against food waste)

The Food Bridge project promoted by the Fundació per a la Prevenció de Residus and the Fundació Banc de Recursos intends to make an impact on food waste reduction through a campaign based on solidarity and the re-use of natural resources. This project is addressed to catering companies, restaurants and food distribution companies willing to reduce food wastage at their shops or restaurant and donate the excess food to social entities.

In a year, the project has managed to re-use 1722 meals of cooked food and 656kg of fresh food that would have been otherwise wasted.

The Zero Waste Festival, the place to be for zero waste advocates

Zero Waste Europe Policy Officer, Ferran Rosa covers his experience of the Zero Waste Festival in Paris.

https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2016/07/the-zero-waste-festival-the-place-to-be-for-zero-waste-advocates/

From 30th June to 2nd July the first Zero Waste Festival took place in Paris. Organised by Zero Waste France, the festival brought 5,000 participants together in a unique event where policy-makers, entrepreneurs, innovators, waste managers, individuals living a zero waste lifestyle and civil society organisations shared a forum.

The Festival successfully managed to provide a holistic vision around waste, from management and institutional solutions, to consumption patterns and sustainable lifestyles. More than a congress on zero waste, it was truly a Festival, with workshops, conferences, debates, seminars and lots of space to discuss and learn from different experiences, all accompanied with an excellent atmosphere of good music and veggie food.

Zero Waste France was made the case for the need to transition towards Zero Waste from many different angles including: individual consumption and waste generation patterns, municipal waste management, requirements for design, industrial responsibility, and more. In this regards, a wide range of solutions enabling a phase out of the take-make-dispose model were presented, from collective action (Capannori, Parma or San Francisco) to individual engagement to transition (Roubaix, Bea Johnson or Famille Zero Déchet).

Among these solutions, Zero Waste Europe launched its latest campaign, the People’s Design Lab, a collaborative tool allowing citizens to nominate wasteful products that will eventually be, redesigned in design workshops partnering with consumers, producers and designers. On top of that, Zero Waste Europe presented the network of Zero Waste municipalities and the importance of building a network of change-makers at the European level so that municipalities can learn from each other.

The attendance of 5,000 people at the Festival is testament to the success of Zero Waste France’s initiative and that there are plenty of people willing to make the transition happen in France and abroad, and that this number is indeed growing. The Festival didn’t only inspire individuals to finally live a zero waste lifestyle, but also local councillors to re-think their waste management systems and individuals to create a local Zero Waste groups.

Youth group highlight waste at the climate talks: the YOUNGO Zero Waste Working Group

This blog is a guest post from the Zero Waste Working Group within the YOUNGO (the Youth NGO constituency under the UNFCCC). They were present in Paris during the COP21 Climate Negotiations and have committed to advocating for zero waste as a climate change solution. You can get in touch with them by contacting Zero Waste Europe, or through their Facebook group.

https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2016/07/the-youth-highlight-waste-at-the-climate-talks-the-youngo-zero-waste-working-group/

It is argued that the “Waste” sector accounts only for a limited part of the GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions on a global level, yet it can be easily verified that the potential contribution of waste prevention and management to climate change mitigation could be much more remarkable than initially expected. In addition, considering the principles of circular economy, it is clear that resources should be continually cycling through the system, allowing us to build an exit strategy from landfills and incineration. In the light of these conclusions, a group of committed young people decided to be the voice of the Zero Waste movement at the UNFCCC climate talks by creating a Zero Waste Working Group within YOUNGO, the Youth NGO constituency under the UNFCCC, which includes youth organisations acting on climate from all over the world.

The YOUNGO Zero Waste working group was born at COP21 in Paris, and it is composed of young people living in three continents (Europe, America, Oceania) who share the same drive for spreading the good practices for a zero waste world. The purpose of our group is to create a global network of young people who believe that Zero Waste is not only possible, but necessary. Therefore, we are looking to spread this message and simultaneously working on projects, policy and research that lead us towards a Zero Waste planet. Furthermore, we want to act as a platform where young people can share knowledge and expertise on the connection between climate change and waste management and how it can be used as a mitigation tool in accordance with the outcome of the Paris Agreement.

Before the COP21, the vast majority of Parties had sent their INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) to the UNFCCC Secretariat. INDCs include the mitigation efforts which countries want to focus on in order to decrease their GHG emissions. As a first step, we drafted a policy statement to be handed over to Delegates. It summarises our policy recommendations:

Include waste management as an integral part of climate mitigation policy
Waste policies should manage waste in the higher tiers of the waste management hierarchy (i.e. recycling or above)
Discontinue support for all forms of “renewable” energy generated from residual waste
Implement circular economy and product stewardship incentives
Recognize the numerous and significant co-benefits of a zero waste policy

In fact, our work is mainly focused on individual countries (possibly through INDCs, industry and government lobbying) and Delegates. We want to highlight the positive correlation between Zero Waste and the emissions reduction through waste minimisation, making it really tangible. Currently, we are working on diverse strategies, and the support of Zero Waste Europe, as well as of GAIA, would be an asset for us. We have the potential to build up a wide youth network in all of these regards, working on actionable and unifying initiatives.

Our first next steps will be to search through INDCs for specific mentions of waste/Zero Waste as climate change mitigation tool to create a list of countries who are moving forward on this issue. Moreover, a table divided into different categories will be created (Zero Waste as most preferred – waste-to-energy/landfill as least preferred) with a sort of rank for countries. The final idea would be to approach these countries at COP22 in Marrakech (Morocco) or at intercessionals accordingly to their “performance”. Another point is the running of campaigns that may include some focus on incineration and cradle-to-cradle ideas. We will also continue to use the YOUNGO Zero Waste Facebook group to keep ourselves posted as we nail down our plans and to share information. Lastly, it is utmost important proposing to the UN to make conferences like COP zero waste – perhaps through lobbying activities with either the Secretariat or the COP22 Moroccan Presidency; it is noteworthy, however, that efforts in this direction have already been made previously for the organisation of the COP21 in Paris and at the last intersessional in Bonn which both incorporated zero waste aspects into their events (APA1/SB44).

There will be space to get in direct contact with the COY12 (Conference of Youth, 12th edition) organisers to probe their willingness in this regard, as we will be likely to attend in mid-July the Mediterranean Youth Climate Forum in Tangier, Morocco. Making the COY12 a zero waste event will give continuity to what has been done in Paris for the COY11, which was the first COY to adopt a zero waste plan, with the collaboration of Zero Waste France.

In conclusion, the Zero Waste working group is eager to increase its network within the climate and waste community, trying to create new avenues that would not have otherwise accomplished. We welcome any contribution and would be keen to set up collaborations with other associations or simply individuals who share this common cause with the same drive and motivation.

You know where to find us and we are looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Wong Kam Shing – GOLD BAUHINIA STAR, awarded for ……what ?

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On World Environment Day, Majorca presents its plans to start moving away from incineration

https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2016/06/on-world-environment-day-majorca-presents-its-plans-to-start-moving-away-from-incineration/

Waste management in Majorca has been for long associated with the incineration of waste. With the biggest waste-to-energy incineration plant in Southern Europe, the system has been shaped and impacted by this mega-infrastructure: with average separate collection at 15% and having reached the point of importing waste from Ireland and Italy to feed the facility.

However, after a change of government on the island, the region and most of the cities, a new and more environmentally friendly model of waste management is starting to take shape. Fortunately waste is no longer imported to be burned and cities, towns and villages of the island are starting to wake up and transition towards a new model.

Among the discussions for this new model, the city of Palma (the capital of the island with 400,000 inhabitants) chose the World Environment Day to organise a conference on waste management to learn about good practices that will help them designing a new model for the city. The conference presented good examples of waste management on the island, with the prominent cases of Porreres or Artà, that have recently joined the limited but growing group of towns above 70% separate collection on the island and are introducing an ambitious pay-as-you-throw scheme.

In addition to this, the conference focused on the role of economic incentives to help improve waste management, with examples like the bonus/malus tax on waste disposal existing in Catalonia, or the inclusion of pay-as-you-throw schemes in the tourist sector.

The conference was closed by Zero Waste Europe who presented their holistic vision of waste management and to provide good examples from the Network of Zero Waste Cities and from zero waste entrepreneurs. These examples were complemented with specific advice on how to bring Palma closer to Zero Waste.

The city representatives took note of these proposals, and advanced the introduction of compulsory bio-waste collection and door-to-door collection for some neighbourhoods, along with work on waste prevention.

All in all, the conference showed that there are alternatives to traditional waste management and that even for an island with the largest incineration plant, it is possible to start shifting.

Building a culture of zero waste in Brussels

https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2016/06/building-a-culture-of-zero-waste-in-brussels/

On the 22nd June, 2016, Zero Waste Europe held the closing conference of the project “Town to town, people to people – Building a European Culture of Zero Waste” in Brussels. The project aimed at bringing together European municipalities and environmental organisations in the construction of a new zero waste culture.

After the Budapest, Ljubljana and Capannori conferences in November April and May, the final one took place in Brussels on 22nd June. Besides identifying good practices at the local level and helping diffuse them across Europe, this last conference also intended to bring the conclusions of the project to European policy makers.

The conference served to present Zero Waste Europe’s latest case study on the city of Parma. Gabriele Folli, Environment Councillor from the city of Parma, presented their transition towards Zero Waste, explaining how they have managed to move from 45% recycling to 73% in only 4 years and notably reduced their residual waste by 59%. The city is the vivid example that ambitious targets for the circular economy aren’t only feasible but bring environmental, social and economic benefits.

In addition to the presentation from Parma, the closing conference of the project counted on the presence of Annemie Andries, Senior Policy Advisor of OVAM, the Flemish Agency of Waste, who presented the new targets on residual waste that are being envisaged in Flanders. These accompany recycling targets and other measures and aim at pushing for a reduction of the non-reusable and non-recyclable waste.

After her, Alexandre Garcin, Deputy Mayor of Roubaix, presented the transition towards Zero Waste of this city in the North of France. In their case, the city doesn’t have the power to implement separate collection, but is directly working with households, companies, schools and civil society to minimise waste generation and to ensure separate collection of the waste that is produced. Roubaix showed that political will can overcome legal constraints.

Finally, Caroline van der Steen, Director of Stadsecoloog of Bruges, presented their Food Smart City project and the work they are doing to prevent food waste and to find alternative and innovative ways of making the most of food surpluses.

The project and the conference has allowed cities and civil society to exchange good practices on waste prevention, separate collection and other sectorial specific measures. Besides, it has boosted the exchanges and the relations among cities across the EU, truly permitting to build a culture of zero waste that has lead even to the twinning of two cities thanks to their efforts to go zero waste.

Parma proves 70% recycling and 100kg residual waste can be achieved in only 4 years

This case study confirms that ZWE’s proposals for the Circular Economy package can be achieved in very little time

Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) has published today a new case study on the city of Parma, Italy, which highlights how with political will and citizen involvement it is possible to radically reduce residual waste, create jobs and save the taxpayers money.

Parma, with 190,284 inhabitants, had separate collection stagnated around 45% for some years. However a citizens-led initiative to move away from waste disposal managed in 2012 to transform waste policies and brought a zero waste plan for Parma.

The new plan copied and improved what is already working well in other towns of the zero waste network; intensive kerbside collection and pay-as-you-throw systems together with lots of education and keeping the system flexible to accomodate further improvements.

parma-graph

The indicator that the town used to measure success was the reduction of residual waste (what is sent for landfilling and/or WtE incineration) per capita which was reduced by a staggering 59%, from 283kg to 117kg, in only 4 years. By 2015 the separate collection was raised to 72% and the quality of the materials separated for recycling had also increased.

The new system of collection is more labour intensive which has meant that the number of waste collectors has increased from 77 to 121 with a number of other indirect jobs being created whilst the city has saved €453,736 in comparison with the former system.

parma-graph-2

But the transition is far from over. By end of 2016 Parma will be generating less than 100kg of residual waste per person and have achieved 80% separate collection and plans are to continue on the path to zero waste.

Joan Marc Simon, Director of ZWE said “Some spend their time finding excuses not to deliver in 2030, others like the city of Parma prove that a target of 70% recycling and 100kg residual waste per capita is achievable in less than 5 years”.

This case study and the case for a target on residual waste per capita will be presented in Brussels next Wednesday 22nd June by the Councilor for Environment of the city of Parma, Gabriele Folli, in the conference Towards Zero Waste Cities: How local authorities can apply waste prevention policies taking place at the Committee of the Regions.

Transition from traditional waste management to Zero Waste in only 4 years

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Waste Management Needs Commitment and Leadership

Letter to Hong Kong – Waste Management Needs Commitment and Leadership – Albert W. Y. Chan, April 30, 2016

http://programme.rthk.hk/channel/radio/programme.php?name=radio3/lettertohongkong&d=2016-05-01&p=535&e=&m=episode

My previous letters to Hong Kong were mainly focused on Hong Kong’s public governance and democratic development. One thing that I have mentioned quite frequently in LegCo but not in other public domains is environmental policy.

In the past twenty years, I have advocated compulsory separation of waste for Hong Kong. But unfortunately, all of these demands have fallen on deaf ears. As we all understand, political development and economic policies have to rely on the central government’s support, but for environmental policy, the Hong Kong SAR Government can determine by its own.

If you look back on the government’s environmental policies, there were very little changes in the past 18 years. The lack of initiatives in waste management indicates the government’s lack of will in governing our society and improving the livelihood of our people.

The Chief Executive, C.Y. Leung, in his election manifesto, pledged to re-examine our environmental protection policy from the perspective of sustainable development, and promised to take effective measures to provide a high quality living environment. He also indicated that he would build Hong Kong into a modern livable city. It seems that his manifesto is pure rhetoric and without much substance. If the government is sincere in improving and protecting our environment, one basic thing that they should do is to formulate a policy that will separate our waste at source.

Waste separation is an initial step in protecting the environment. If we look around the world, many cities already have established compulsory waste separation policies for decades. In most developed countries, many of them separate the waste at source. Many of them have an extremely high percentage on waste recycling, some even up to 80-90%. Hong Kong’s situation is totally undesirable. Hong Kong generated a total of 5.56 million tonnes of waste in 2012, in which only 2.16 tonnes were recyclable, and the other 3.4 million tonnes were disposed of at landfills. Our recycling rate is less than 40%.

For leadership and dedication in environment protection, we don’t have to look far for a good example. Taipei is a city, in terms of history, population, and economic development, is similar to Hong Kong, but they are far more ahead in their environmental policy.

The Taipei government started the waste separation experiment in the 90’s and formally implemented the Garbage Sorting, Recycling, and Reduction Action Plan in 2003.

The Action Plan required all residents to separate garbage into three categories: recyclable waste, kitchen waste and general household waste. After the implementation of the above policy, Taipei City’s per capita disposal rate of household garbage fell nearly 50% from 0.6 kg in 2003 to 0.39 kg in 2011. If compared to Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s per capita disposal rate of household garbage is 0.84 in 2011, which is double of Taipei.

If Taipei can be successful in solid waste management, I believe that Hong Kong people can do the same. The problem is our government.

As for the Hong Kong Government’s record, we should be ashamed of ourselves. One of the problem is the usage of plastic bags themselves. We do remember that the government encouraged people not to use plastic bags in shopping, and created a new tax for 50 cents for each plastic bag. However, the government uses plenty of plastic bags themselves. For example, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department “AFCD”, used more than 180,000 plastic bags last year, and additional 350,000 plastic bags consumed by AFCD’s contractors in the same year. The numbers add up to over 1,400 plastic bags per day.

It should be noted that this is only one department. I believe that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department should use much more plastic bags than AFCD. The Hong Kong SAR Government is definitely the world leader in using plastic bags.

At the time when the Hong Kong Government contaminates our environment with millions of plastic bags, the European Commissioner for Environment is advocating Zero Plastic Waste policy. Many developed cities have also established zero plastic bags policy. For example, plastic bags will be banned from all shops in Paris from 1st July 2016.

One recent development in environmental policy is “Zero Waste” policy. “Zero Waste” is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. If we can achieve “Zero Waste”, we don’t need any landfills and incinerators, because all the waste can be recycled and reused. By doing that, we have to change our way of life and the government have to design a system and mechanism that will collect and recycle all of our waste.

Although “Zero Waste” is a very difficult task, San Francisco has set a target for zero waste in 2020, and a target for 75% of recycling of solid waste in 2010. The difference between Hong Kong and San Francisco is leadership and commitment.

In the 2015 America Recycles Day, Obama, the President of United States said: “Communities across America must continue promoting activities that encourage people to recycle and to conserve, so we do not take for granted today the world our children will inherit tomorrow.”. He continued to say: “Let us work to fulfill our obligation to our next generation by safeguarding our resources and working with our friends, family, and neighbors to protect the world we share.” Perhaps our political leaders in Hong Kong should have the same belief and commitment, then we may have a better living environment, and a better future.

The Secret to San Francisco’s Zero Waste Success

http://waste360.com/waste-reduction/secret-san-francisco-s-zero-waste-success

Is there a secret in San Francisco related to their zero waste success?

Yes, I think there is, and unfortunately it is rarely discussed.

I love San Francisco and the zero waste work they are doing. And I want to draw attention to what their “secret ingredient” is so that other cities can better understand what they don’t have but might want to pursue locally, even if in an altered form.

Last month, the New York Times wrote another admiring piece about the San Francisco zero waste program. And again, the reporter missed asking the logical question, “Why San Francisco?” What is different about Golden Gate City that makes it such a star when it comes to progressive waste management systems?

It isn’t a unique technology, as Jack Macy even admits in the article. That is an important point considering all the sketchy “new tech, one-bin” proposals we’ve been seeing lately as the way to achieve zero waste.

There is more than just one reason that San Francisco is successful. But I am going to focus on the one thing that is really special, and it’s the relationship between the San Francisco government and the private sector service provider Recology. The working relationship between these two entities is very unique and I think is the key to enabling their soaring success. So why are they such good buddies in pursuit of a common goal when elsewhere we see conflict and struggle, such as the recent Houston-Waste Management Inc. contract tussle?

I didn’t want to misspeak here, so I ran this column past a San Francisco insider to make sure I got this right. The company known today as Recology is, in fact, a very old company with deep roots in the San Francisco waste business dating to the early 1920s. They did something unique and remarkable many years ago. Two Recology predecessor haulers, Scavenger’s Protective Association and Sunset Scavenger Company, got written into the City Charter through a voter initiative ordinance as the exclusive official refuse haulers for the entire city. These exclusive refuse collection licenses could be overturned by the voters, but as long as voters were happy with the deal, it was forever. In Italy, this is called an “inside company” and is actually accepted as an option for providing public service. No surprise then that the original Recology was started by an Italian family.

This has created a sweet deal for Recology and they knew it. When the city staff approached the company in the 1990s and told them San Francisco wanted to become a zero waste city, Recology was in a good position to either fight the effort or join it. I don’t know what was said exactly. But I do remember having a personal discussion with a Recology manager back in the 90s. (When they were called Norcal.) This manager told me that the behind-the-curtain informal agreement was that the city would share the risk of this new zero waste path for long enough for Recology to learn how to transform their existing business model based upon primarily landfilling into a business plan that was based upon landfill diversion. By sharing the risk, the Recology would still be making profits during the transition. This sounded fair to me at the time, and it has proven to be a wise move.

But the remarkable part that I want to highlight here is that this sort of cooperation and planning between government and the private sector rarely happens in America. I think it must be due to Recology’s legally-protected status of being written into the City Charter that enables them to have a unique power within the relationship that can be used in partnership with the city to achieve community benefit and ensure a certain level of private sector profit.

I think this close relationship is similar to how my town “coordinates and plans the future” with our electric utility provider. This “public utility monopoly” approach for electricity exists in nearly every town in America.

So in some ways this special relationship that San Francisco and Recology have isn’t that unique. It’s just that other cities don’t use the public utility approach in the waste management industry. I think we should start doing so!

I don’t think the San Francisco City Charter approach is replicable across the entire country for many reasons. But I do think that many of the working elements that make their approach successful are replicable. At its core, the San Francisco zero waste program is run like a social enterprise, meaning that its primary purpose for being is to fulfill a mission (i.e. zero waste) and that the program is expected to make a profit while doing so. I know a lot about this approach since I created the nation’s largest nonprofit zero waste social enterprise here in Boulder, Colo., where our partnership success with the city came not from a legal protection like Recology’s, but from a civic mandate delivered to the city by a citizens army organized by Eco-Cycle.

This “double bottom-line (DBL) approach” to creating value for the community is an exciting new way of using the power of the marketplace in partnership with local government. The place to watch to see how far it can go is the U.K. right now, especially Scotland. We are watching new “legal vehicles” for the creation of DBL enterprises emerge with names such as “the CIC” (community interest company), or the “B” Corp (the for-benefit corporation), and my favorite, the “the L3C” (low-profit limited liability company LLC).

In the last few years we’ve heard the giants of industry, like Bill Gates and others, call for a more “compassionate capitalism.” The reason this topic is up for discussion is because there is a growing recognition that the current form of free market capitalism isn’t capable of addressing the serious social and environmental problems of our times. On top of that, our local, state and national government entities can’t do it either as their funding and public support is shrinking.

I say don’t mess with the existing single bottom-line capitalism—it has brought us Apple and Amazon—but that it is time for a new addition to the national economic operating system which I’ll call Capitalism 2.0, (as in two bottom lines), and that there are special needs in our world today, like clean energy and zero waste, that need a new marketplace approach that combines the leadership of government with the horsepower of business.

When more cities step forward and support the social enterprise approach, then maybe San Francisco won’t stand so alone as a national star in the race to zero waste.