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Press Release: A Zero Waste hierarchy for Europe

Press release: Europe's zero waste hierarchy

For immediate release: Brussels 21/05/2019

Zero Waste Europe today released a new proposal for a hierarchical structure that conforms to the circular economy. The current waste hierarchy, as it is shown in the Waste Framework Directive, is a good tool that can guide the transition to modern waste management. But it is limited because it only looks at things from an environmental perspective, without considering social, economic and logistics factors.

Zero Waste Europe believes that a new hierarchical structure is needed to change the way of thinking from waste management to resource management, and to ensure that the value of our resources is retained in the economy for the new generation.

Although the current waste classification centers on recycling and extracting energy from waste, the milestone of zero waste classification is to achieve value and energy savings by designing the waste in the system.

"We need new tools in the new era, and the zero waste hierarchy we proposed is a tool that can determine the correct priority for achieving European circular economy goals," said Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe.

In order to achieve the ambitious circular and sustainability goals, the main priorities of EU economic and environmental policy should be to change consumption habits, rethink business models and design to make them waste-free.

"The EU knows how to manage waste, but it does not know how to manage resources. The newly elected committee and parliament should propose a series of brand-new legislation, legal and economic incentives for products and packaging, so as to design not to generate waste in the first place." SIMON.

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Note: The zero waste rating system was developed in cooperation with the Zero Waste International Alliance, of which the European Zero Waste Alliance is a member.


Zero Waste Europe recently published a study on the overall indicators of waste prevention conducted by the Wuppertal Institute, because only by focusing on prevention, as indicated by the two levels, can a true circular economy be ensured. Zero Waste Europe encourages and supports the business sector in its creation of legal and economic conditions for change to achieve recycling. Here you can access a series of case studies on zero waste business models.

Press contact: Agnese Marcon, European Zero Waste Dissemination Coordinator,, +32 (0) 2 73 62 091


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