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Press release: A new report finds that municipal solid waste is a key sector of the low-carbon economy

. The report found that the role of waste prevention and improved waste management in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the development of a low-carbon economy, was previously greatly underestimated

For immediate release 27/10/2015

Download the full press kit. A newly released report found that the waste sector plays a key role in developing a low-carbon economy and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG). The report will be released at a press conference organized by Zero Waste France in Paris on Tuesday, 27th. This report was released before the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in December.

The report was commissioned by "Zero Waste Europe" and prepared in cooperation with "Zero Waste France" and ACR+. The report found that the role of waste prevention and improved waste management can play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the development of a low-carbon economy has previously been severely underestimated, partly because of the national inventory structure of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The report further accurately examined the true impact of waste management on climate change and carbon emissions. It confirms that actions with the highest levels of waste—including waste prevention initiatives, reuse and recycling—have considerable scope for reducing climate change emissions.

As the report points out, “a climate-friendly strategy for materials and waste will be a strategy for continuous recycling of materials in the economy and minimize leakage of materials into residual waste disposal.” For example, recycling 1 ton of plastic packaging can save 500 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, while using one ton less plastic packaging can avoid a 6-fold increase in emissions (3 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent).

11 key recommendations were put forward in the report, calling for a redesign of waste policies to prioritize higher-level options for “waste grading” (waste prevention, reuse, and recycling), and immediately redistribute current climate financing subsidies that support energy production From waste. These recommendations focus on correcting methodological issues that currently prevent member states and the European Union from implementing effective waste policies in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

The report shows that in the decarbonization economy needed to mitigate the most severe effects of climate change, technologies such as incineration will become less attractive options and eventually become obstacles to a low-carbon economy.


Mariel Vilella, Deputy Director of Zero Waste Europe, said: “For a long time, people have been neglecting the impact of waste management on the climate. It is now clear that waste prevention, reuse and recycling are climate change solutions that need to be fully integrated into a low-carbon economy. In the EU and At the international level, it’s time to shift climate financing support to these climate-friendly options instead of waste incineration, which will actually lead to climate change and replace the livelihoods of global recyclers."

French Zero Waste Advocacy Officer Delphine Lévi Alvarès said: “With France hosting COP21 in December, this is a real opportunity to raise the awareness of decision makers on the true impact of waste management on climate change and the impact of zero waste strategies. Included in the agenda of climate mitigation solutions supported by the French government."

ACR+ Secretary-General Françoise Bonnet said: “Efficiency and smart waste management are the keys to a low-carbon economy. Nonetheless, this is just the tip of the iceberg, because greater impact can be achieved through resource efficiency and a life cycle perspective.”


Download the full report, executive summary or technical appendix

Media contact

Zero Waste Europe

Mariel Vilella Deputy Director and Head of Climate Policy Project +44 784 7079-154 – mariel -at-

Matt Franklin Communications and Project Officer +44 792 337-3831 – matt -at-

Zero waste France

Delphine Lévi Alvarès Propaganda Officer +33 7 89 85 06 58 – delphine -at-


Françoise Bonnet Secretary-General +32 474 412 653 – fb -at-


Zero Waste Europe-Zero Waste Europe is an umbrella organization that enables communities to rethink their relationship with resources. It brings together local zero waste groups and municipalities in 20 EU countries. In addition to recycling, the Zero Waste Network aims to reduce waste generation, close material recycling, and increase employment and design waste in the system.

Zero Waste France – Zero Waste France (formerly Cniid – Centre national d'information indépendante sur les déchets) was established in 1997. Local and national public officials and civic groups or enterprises. In 2014, the organization changed its name to “Zero Waste France” to emphasize its ambitions and connections with other groups involved in the issue around the world. Zero Waste France works closely with local stakeholders-including its 2,000 members (individuals and groups) to encourage and implement a zero waste strategy at the local level.

ACR+-The Association for Urban and Regional Recycling and Sustainable Resource Management (ACR+) is an international network that promotes sustainable resource management through prevention, reuse and recycling at the source. Through its activities, ACR+ strives to develop the expertise and skills of public authorities in effective waste resource policies. Based on 20 years of experience, ACR+ launched the Circular Europe Network in November 2014, a multi-stakeholder platform designed to support local and regional authorities in adopting an aspiring circular economy strategy.

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