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Meet our members – Zero Waste Italy

Meet our members-Zero Waste Italy

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 Laura, can you give us a brief introduction to the key points of zero waste in Italy?

Zero Waste Italy is headquartered in the Zero Waste Research Center in Capannori (Lucca), and we are very happy to work closely with our President and great promoter Rossano Ercolini. Our main focus is to connect hundreds of zero-waste cities, design/industrial companies with thousands of citizens and activist associations/groups in Italy.

We work with adults and children on a wide range of projects, the sole goal of which is to promote a zero-waste future in Italy and beyond.

How long have you worked in this field and what made you fall into (zero) waste?

I first heard of "zero waste" in 2015, when an initiative was launched in Florence (Tuscany, Italy) against the construction of a new waste incineration plant, which was never built due to the large-scale mobilization of the city .

A year later, in 2016, I became the vice president of Montalbano BioDistrict, which cooperated with 10 cities and 3 provinces in the center of Tuscany in agriculture, hydrogeological structure, slow tourism, etc. In one of our initiatives, I invited Rossano Ercolini to talk about waste management in our area. Since then, my relationship with "Zero Waste Italy" has continued to develop until it has become a daily contact.

What is your current role in the organization?

My current role in Zero Waste in Italy is to coordinate more than 300 zero waste cities in Italy. My job includes maintaining contact with municipalities and working with regional authorities, other activists and associations with similar interests, goals, and intentions.

Tell us more about an activity/event you are doing?

Since the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have been researching institutional directives, impacts and alternatives to disposable single-face masks used to fight the virus. We have been producing various press releases and articles, which are also written to our national government, in order to raise people’s awareness of the existing reusable alternatives to disposable masks.

The ongoing cooperation between Zero Waste Italy and the Eta Beta Cooperative has created an innovative industrial washing leasing model that can be replicated anywhere else with minimal investment. This washing rental system can be applied to all medical equipment, such as shoe covers, gowns, hair hats, etc., which are currently mainly disposable. Through Eta Beta, we have also developed a series of washable and filtered high-coverage zero-waste masks, which will be launched on the market soon (read more about the project here and here). We also organize the production of shoe covers, hair caps and all these medical disposable equipment, which are currently finally ending in the form of general waste.

If you want your organization to be known for one thing, what would it be?

Zero Waste Italy has raised awareness of the entire Italian waste problem. This topic touches on everyone’s life, which is why we talk to politicians and housewives to develop specific campaigns that care about our health and our planet.

Italy is famous for zero waste for more than one reason, but there are many reasons; one of my favorites is that we empower people.

I want to share a famous motto "No one, no decision". This means that each of us can make a difference through our commitment, participation and example. As Voltaire said, "Everyone feels guilty for all the good things he didn't do."

How does the current COVID-19 pandemic affect your work?

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation in all fields. The strict restrictions that do not allow us to move freely and to party affect all social aspects of our lives. Zero waste Italy, due to its pragmatism, always has a very busy planning calendar, in our headquarters, but also traveling across the country. The pandemic forces us to rely on technology to exchange information with others and stay in touch, but frankly, we can’t wait to get out of the room and start meeting people again.

You can find more information about "Zero Waste Italy" and its work here.

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