Meet our members-Zero
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.
Hi, Susana, can you give us a brief introduction to the key points of ZERO?
ZERO-The Earth System Sustainability Association is a Portuguese environmental NGO established at the end of 2015. Our goal is to intervene in Portuguese society by actively participating in the defense of the values of sustainability, because we understand that only through a balance between the environment, society and economy will it be possible to fully respect the natural limits of the earth. To build a more cohesive world.
Our actions aim to influence public policy and business decisions in areas such as plastic production and consumption, circular economy, climate change, water, oceans and biodiversity. In addition to this political intervention, we have also developed projects to demonstrate the benefits and possibilities of the policies and changes we support.
We are part of several international networks: Climate Action Network, Zero Waste Europe, European Environment Agency, Transport and Environment.
How long have you worked in this field and what made you fall into (zero) waste?
It's been a long time. I have worked in the Portuguese environmental movement for more than 20 years, most of the time as a volunteer, and most recently as a professional. I have been dedicated to waste disposal from the very beginning. Later, I accepted chemicals and sustainability, but for me zero waste is just the most logical way of action. If it is not really necessary, and if resources can be saved, why waste resources? I am a fan of the concept of self-sufficiency, so zero waste makes a lot of sense🙂
What is your current role in the organization?
I am a member of the board of directors of ZERO, and I am currently working on projects related to circular economy and chemicals in the organization.
ZERO's vision is to contribute to a society based on the principles of sustainable development, while fully respecting the limits of our planet. A "zero" concept encourages action society, that is, zero use of fossil fuels, zero pollution, zero waste, zero destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity, and zero social and economic inequality. A society that understands sustainability as ensuring social, environmental and economic fairness and justice. In this world, everyone, whether alone or interacting with others, assumes their responsibilities in this vision.
Tell us more about an activity/event you are doing?
One of our most important activities at the moment is the conversion of reuse targets into European directives-packaging and waste. This is an ongoing process because Portugal has not yet completed the conversion (it is expected that the process will be completed in December 2020), but it is one of our main concerns in the circular economy field. We are also paying close attention to Portugal’s implementation of the DRS system for plastic, glass and metal beverage packaging, which will start in January 2022, but things have progressed a bit late (all regulatory procedures), so we have done our best to stimulate them ;-). In both events, we cooperated with other Portuguese ENGO -Sciaena and ANP|WWF.
If you want your organization to be known for one thing, what would it be?
My personal dream is to reduce and reuse at full speed in several areas in the next five years. For zero, in addition to preventing waste, we will definitely invest a lot of energy and resources to get municipal authorities to adopt a zero waste strategy, and we hope to be connected with it! Become the initiator of the Portuguese municipal ZWS! It is great to know that we are not alone, and we are now more confident to achieve our goals, because ZWE has provided us with incredible support to promote this agenda at the national level!
How would you describe the development of the zero waste movement in your country? What is your view of the future?
From our perspective, this is an unstoppable movement. More and more people are joining, which is very meaningful in many ways: at the individual level, the institutional level, the company level, the environment, and so on. We very much hope that this will become an undeniable reality, even for those who still adopt a more linear approach.
How does the current COVID-19 pandemic affect your work?
In Portugal, the pandemic has postponed some political measures related to our work, namely banning the use of disposable plastic tableware, plates, and cups in the food sector (originally scheduled to start on September 3, but has been postponed to March next year). In addition, DRS regulations and waste directives were eventually postponed, possibly due to COVID-19 and surrounding restrictions. A tax on external packaging is also foreseen in the 2020 budget, but no one has mentioned or applied the tax so far. Last but not least, due to the increase in waste production due to the pandemic, we are seeing pressure for the government not to increase landfill taxes. In any case, the Ministry of Environment is working hard to stay strong and maintain the overall goals.
You can find more information about ZERO and its work here.
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