Meet our members-Special Edition-Meet our science coordinator: Enzo Favoino!
Zero Waste Europe is pleased to introduce the blog series "Meet Our Members". Through this series of monthly interviews, we hope to give you the opportunity to learn about our members and the work they do.
This month, in the first special edition of the "Meet Our Members" series, we are happy to introduce you to our science coordinator.
Hi Enzo, can you give us a brief introduction about yourself? How long have you worked in this field? In fact, what makes you fall into (zero) waste?
certainly! Since 1990, I have been working at the R&D center Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza in Monza, northern Italy. My role is to promote the sustainable management of waste and resources. I am an academically educated agronomist; I became interested in composting and bio-waste strategies to promote early trials of separate collection in Italy. Finally, together with the team of Scuola Agraria, we realized that biological waste can promote the individual collection rate and the sustainable management of the entire waste, so we gradually began to cover all areas of sustainable waste management, and ultimately promote the zero waste plan, strategy and practice. The success of our zero-waste program in Italy and its operation and economic optimization have become a reference model for similar strategies in other countries, starting with Spain, Wales and the United Kingdom, and then Central and Eastern European countries (this makes my professional participation particularly happy, despite the requirements Very high).
What are your current responsibilities in Zero Waste Europe?
Since its inception, I have been the scientific coordinator for Zero Waste Europe (ZWE). When discussing the need for a pan-European zero waste network, I sat with Joan Marc Simon, Mariel Vilella, Rossano Ercolini, and other founders of the organization to brainstorm its possible structure. We immediately considered the need to make our vision rock solid and make its technological and scientific strength visible. Incorporating technical and scientific arguments into our policy and advocacy work (except for supporting local networks in our daily work) has always been the entire EU (and in addition, because many non-EU networks currently rely on our support).
Tell us more about an activity/event you are doing?
As the European circular economy agenda is inspired by the zero-waste vision and becomes more solid, all aspects of the "zero-waste agenda" make me busy happily. However, if I could choose one higher than the other, I would say that the current definition of the EU funding scheme (first of all the huge spending capacity of the EU Recovery Fund) is a related area of activity. The hundreds of billions of euros pouring into Europe could turn our society into heaven or hell, depending on the proper use of funds. So far, the Zero Waste Campaign has been particularly successful in pushing funding in the right direction. This is also due to Janek Vahk's (European Zero Waste Climate, Energy and Air Pollution Program Coordinator) careful monitoring of all actions at the EU level- And other members of ZWE employees.
The Zero Waste Movement and I are working on other related areas at the European level, such as chemical recycling, the correct implementation of the single-use plastic directive, and the need to develop residual waste management strategies to avoid incineration.
If you wanted your work to be famous for one thing, what would it be?
Currently, I am busy developing a top-down strategy (for example, working at the EU level), and I particularly like the actions, campaigns and implementations on the ground. Therefore, I would like to mention the Zero Waste City Plan, which I think is the backbone of the Zero Waste Methodology of Zero Waste Europe and its members. The cooperation with the city demonstrates the actual operation and economic feasibility of the zero waste plan! What motivates me in particular are some of the pilot programs I am currently promoting (beyond the scope of my duties in Zero Waste Europe, but closely related to it!) Unpackaged sourcing is becoming more and more mainstream in Italy.
How would you describe the development of the zero waste movement in your country? What is your view of the future?
Well, more than 300 communities in Italy have formally committed to a zero waste plan and are one of the strongholds of the zero waste movement. This is mainly due to the advantages of Zero Waste Italy and the leadership role of its founder and director Rosano Ercolini. I am fortunate to be able to participate and help them when needed.
The zero waste strategy has been supporting the development of separate collection, recycling and composting in Italy. However, when discussing anything related to Italy, one should always keep a small opinion (because in every field, there are light and shadow, the best and the worst, the best and the worst). Currently, there are some key figures that show how zero is pushing Italy to significantly improve its waste management system, with an average separate collection rate of 61.3% in 2019 (ranking third among other EU member states). But the most important thing is that residual waste is being minimized; according to our indicators, thousands of Italian cities now have a residual waste rate of less than 100 kg/person/year.
Another successful case of the zero waste movement in Italy is Milan. The city has more than 1 million residents, but it currently has the highest recovery rate due to the comprehensive expansion of the roadside program to include food waste.
All in all, the interesting thing is:), I always like to remind people during public discussions or events that in the early 90s, opponents of the zero waste movement believed that "Italians are not suitable for separate collection, and Italy will never reach more than 20% Separate collection". Then, in the early 2000s, they began to say "Well, more than 50% of the collection alone is impossible." Recently, they argued that “we have achieved the EU’s 65% separate collection target, but we will not exceed this number”.Today, I like to answer: "Well, gentlemen, one day you will say-more than 120% is impossible-that will be the only time we agree with each other". 🙂
Zero waste is a journey, not a destination.
How does the current COVID-19 pandemic affect your work? The zero waste movement in your country?
I will not say so much. Using scientific evidence, we were able to build strong arguments, which also affected the EU's separate collection guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis (these guidelines confirm the key role of separate collection and related recycling/composting programs). We are also able to establish reliable narratives about reusability and single use. In short, we emphasized how viruses survive on different surfaces. "The higher the dependence on one-time use, the higher the turnover rate of materials that enter our personal domain from the outside, which makes us more vulnerable, and Not more secure". The government and health authorities chose this argument and issued many statements to emphasize that reusable solutions are as safe as single-use solutions, or more.
In addition, we have achieved success in the campaign against the use of disposable gloves, and we have presented arguments against them, arguing that they are "false sense of security" and a way to bring the virus from outside areas into stores and supermarkets. Later this year, the World Health Organization issued a statement that is fully consistent with our campaign! Therefore, Italy abolished the previous obligation to use disposable gloves.
At present, we are currently committed to promoting reusable masks, adopting a "product as a service" model, that is, renting out, collecting used masks, intensively disinfecting and providing for further use. Under a strict monitoring plan, this has also been fully approved by the health authorities (read more).
Of course, COVID-19 brings new threats and challenges. But fortunately, we are able to meet these challenges and turn them into new opportunities for new business models, consistent with the vision of zero waste.
Zero waste is always happy and never satisfied. We must be able to rejoice in what we have achieved, because every step forward is a blessing. But we must also cultivate the ambition for continuous improvement, because we need to constantly move towards our final destination. "
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