Skip to content
On the Road to Zero Waste: Lessons from around the world

The Road to Zero Waste: Lessons from all over the world

Zero waste is happening all over the world. To prove this point, GAIA presented a series of successful cases from around the world in the side event of the Rio+20 negotiations.

The publication "On the Road to Zero Waste: Successful Experiences and Lessons from Around the World" brings together 9 examples of how to achieve zero waste without considering the geographical, socio-economic and political background.

It shows that as long as there is political will, there is always a way to reduce waste generation, increase recycling, and continue to reduce the parts that cannot be composted or recycled. There are many reasons for the success of these case studies, but they have in common the strengthening of prevention and source separation policies and flexible, decentralized, low-tech waste disposal systems. Compared with the systems built around large-scale incineration and landfills, they are more cost-effective and create more jobs.

Here are some key points of research:

• Through incentives and widespread publicity, San Francisco has reduced its landfills by 77%—the highest diversion rate in the United States—and is expected to reach 90% in 2020.

• The door-to-door collection service operated by a cooperative of nearly 2,000 grassroots recyclers in Pune, India, has been incorporated into the city’s waste management system and transferred enough waste to avoid 640,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

• The active standards and incentives for individuals and businesses in the Flanders region of Belgium have achieved 73% of the transfer of residential waste, which is the highest rate in Europe.

• In Taiwan, community opposition to incineration prompted the government to adopt waste prevention and recycling goals and plans. These goals and plans are very successful, even as the population increases and the economy grows, the amount of waste is significantly reduced.

• The anti-incineration campaign in the province of Guipúzcoa in Spain led to the adoption of door-to-door garbage collection services in several small cities, reducing the amount of waste entering landfills by 80%.

• In Alaminos, Philippines, a participatory, bottom-up approach proved that the community is capable of solving their own waste management problems.

• In Mumbai, India and La Pintana, Chile, the focus on organic matter has generated real value from their largest and most problematic municipal waste.

• In Buenos Aires, through the formation of cooperatives and collective political action, a grassroots recycler named cartoneros allowed the city to adopt waste sorting at the source, which is important to achieve the goal of 75% transfer by 2017 step.

The GAIA website will continue to compile these world best practices, so this list is not exhaustive. There are more zero waste practices around the world. In Europe, there are many communities that are promoting the transition to a zero-waste society, and this website is gradually introducing these communities.

To download the publication and learn how these communities have managed to change the status quo and become best practices, click here.

About the latest post

Let Europe only export what we are proud of-31/05/2018 Stop the human chain of Gipuzkoa incinerators-30/05/2016 Organic waste management training by Romanian civil society and local experts-23/12 /2015

Previous article Reuse the network