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Potocnik: “Zero Waste is the right aspiration”

More than two hundred people including members of the European Parliament, mayors and local decision-makers, European Commission, the European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik and the famous actor Jeremy Irons participated in the first Zero Waste Europe conference in the European Parliament on March 7.

“Zero waste might be an ambitious goal in our highly industrialised societies; but it is the right aspiration” said commissioner Potocnik talking a packed room. Reaffirming the commitment of the Commission to phase out landfilling and burning of recyclable waste by 2020. “No new landfills should be built in Europe (…) incineration is not optimal in the mid term” continued the Commissioner who warned that member states should be careful with building incineration overcapacity.

“In order to meet the objectives of the Resource Efficiency Roadmap the EU will have to reduce disposal and increase recycling at 5% annual rate until 2020. This is a major leap forward that cannot be achieved with the current legal framework.” said Joan Marc Simon, executive director of Zero Waste Europe. “Eurostat shows how recycling is stagnating in Europe and incineration is going up; we need to change the drivers if we don’t want the EU to waste one more decade”.

Jumping  from recycling rates of 20% to 80% in a short period of time is perfectly  possible when there is the political will and the implication of the citizens. This is what the experience from Capannori, first Zero Waste town in Europe, and the province of Gipuzkoa proved with concrete practical zero waste experiences.

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  1. […] Errazkin Gipuzkoako ingurumen diputatuak prentsaren aurrean azaldu ditu Zero Waste Europek antolatutako jardunaldian  Europako Legebiltzarrean hango agintari eta mugimenduen aldetik jasotako erantzun […]

  2. Correlation between waste management, soil fertility and food quality

    Plant nutrients that have been moved away during the harvest must be replaced otherwise the soil’s productive capacity falls and yields decline. We should recycle the 16 chemical elements that are the essential building blocks of all Earth’s plants. Hydrogen (H), carbon (C) and oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), manganese (Mn), chlorine (Cl), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (B), and molybdenum (Mo) – all may be returned to the cultivation system with methods which of course should be as efficient as possible.

    These 16 elements are found in all living and dead organisms, including humans. During photosynthesis, the chemical elements are built to plants biomass with the help of energy from the sun. Bio means life and biomass thus means mass of living organisms per area or volume.
    As soon as organisms are “non-living”, such as in food, in various products originating from plants, such as wood chips, food waste and animal such as slaughterhouse waste or feces, we should use the term “renewable organic materials.” The word renewables should be included to highlight how renewable differs from fossil organic material such as lignite and fuel oil and from synthetic organic material that is made by man, such as plastics.

    As long as you and I – through our political representatives – allows renewable organic materials
    • burned at waste incineration plant food which goes up in smoke and end up in the environment ashes or
    • is used for thermal gasification without loss of nutrients reported or
    • placed in dumps and landfills where it creates problems in the leachate or
    • sent by sewage into energy and chemical intensive wastewater treatment plants, where, for example, cost-intensive process sent the most nitrogen to the air for the chemical industry can from the air fix nitrogen in fertilizer and phosphorus remains in the sludge along with all the dangerous substances that we do not want in ground and in the food
    * so long will our soils and crops lack the 16 elements. Some are replaced with artificial fertilizer and are frequently combined with various chemical pesticides as the natural balance of both the soil and the plants are disrupted with reduced resistance to plant diseases as a result.

    Renewable organic material in waste and residues is suitable raw material for the production of biogas containing energy-rich methane (CH4) and biofertilizers in the local system. Biogas can be converted into electricity or heat or used as fuel for cars. Biofertilizer will maintain or improve soil fertility and increase yields of crops.

    Now that we need to build our way out of the economic crisis, there are outstanding opportunities to employ our time’s best researchers, designers, architects, engineers and manufacturers to start the project that creates the best conditions for the microorganisms that perform the conversion from raw materials into valuable and sustainable products. Many new companies and jobs will be created.

    You, who value healthy food, want to avoid environmental pollution, and wishing to improve public morals, put pressure on politicians at all the levels!
    No public funds – our tax money – should be used for research and development and other support for unsustainable projects.
    Require the establishment of local, modern, efficient biogas plants.

    I care about both my and others’ children and grandchildren.
    Do you?

    Feel free to visit and

    * NGO Sthlm 2006 How to reduce our negative impact on climate
    ** Waste to Energy 2008

  3. […] experience was one of the Zero Waste ideas that was presented during the event “Beyond Recycling: Towards a Zero Waste Europe” which took part in the European Parliament in March 2013, we wish to all the luck in […]

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