Zero Waste Europe is happy to introduce the blog series “Meet our members”. Through this series of monthly interviews, we want to give you a chance to get to know our members and the work they are doing.
Meet Marc Sautelet from Zero Waste Belgium, Belgium.
Hi Marc, can you give us a brief introduction to the Zero Waste Belgium’s focus?
Zero Waste Belgium is a nonprofit association that has been raising awareness about waste issues in Belgium since 2016. Our vision is to build together a zero waste society. That’s why we work with different actors: citizens, companies and public authorities.
The association wants to encourage change through actions, as we believe it is the best way to achieve it! This is also why we prioritise communication with consumers who can adapt their behaviours right away.
How long have you been in the field and what got you into (zero) waste?
I have always been interested in the topic. I had seen the documentary “No Impact Man or Recipes for Disaster” as early as 2009. The idea of reducing my waste slowly built-up in my mind but what really got me into zero waste was my hunger for the challenge. In 2016, I tried not to produce any waste for a whole year. In the end, all my waste fit into a single jar. This pushed me into zero waste at full speed and made me decide to engage with Zero Waste Belgium.
What is your current role in the organisation?
After starting as a volunteer for the organisation, I then transferred to project manager in 2018. However, our structure is very horizontal so we work closely together on different projects. I am also very interested in the policy changes that could apply in Belgium. We stay up to date but we have no dedicated time to follow these projects.
Tell us more about one ongoing campaign/activity you’re working on?
In Belgium, youth movements are quite important. They have become one of our main audiences as it is very interesting (and rewarding) to work with young people and future consumers. In 2020, 30 new groups engaged themselves to reduce their waste during their summer camps and some of them managed to achieve a staggering 90% waste reduction while really enjoying the experience. It is a really fun project to work on!
If there was one thing that you would like your organisation to be known for, what would it be?
In 2018 and 2019 we organized the Zero Waste Fair in Brussels, which turned out to be a huge success. In the last edition, 15 000 people showed up at the fair for conferences, stalls, food, workshops and generally to learn more about the zero waste lifestyle. The vibes were unbelievable. This is the kind of event that gives you hope!
How would you describe the growth of the Zero Waste movement in your country? What is your perspective for the future?
Since 2018, zero waste has been and continues to be quite popular in Belgium. Every day there are new articles, blogs and events about it. At this point, it feels that we have reached most of the “ready-to-be-convinced” people. Now it is time that society put things in motion to help the remaining citizens and the companies make the shift to zero waste by DRS objectives, phase out incineration, cutting out fossil fuels subsidies etc…
I am optimistic that we will get there, as there is a political will to push this forward. Even though the recent COVID-19 crisis seems to have put some of these good intentions on hold. Let’s hope it’s only temporary. Again, the best way to get there is to start yourself.
You can find more about Zero Waste Belgium and their work here.