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Exploring zero waste trends in Europe


10 Nov 2020

Written by

ZWE Staff


All throughout the month of October, we joined up with Love Zero Waste to bring reusable, packaging free, alternative and safe zero waste solutions into the mainstream.

Together, we have gathered a great line-up of experts, ranging from leading policymakers and entrepreneurs to activists, to highlight why today, more than ever, it is crucial to work on solutions across the planet to create a large-scale real circular zero waste future.

For instance, plastic pollution caused by excessive single-use packaging, microplastics present in different products and microfibres coming from washing synthetic clothes are contaminating the environment, poisoning the food chain and directly affecting our health. Since it is impossible to clean all the plastic out the only possible solution is to redesign materials, products and processes in order to stop plastic from entering the environment in the first place.

If a product cannot be reused, repaired, disassembled, remanufactured, recycled or composted it should be redesigned or progressively phased out from the market. Good product design is a prerequisite to making zero waste a reality; it allows embodied energy to stay in the system for longer effectively preserving the value of materials and allowing for a circular economy that is resilient, creates local jobs and does not harm people.

During the entire month, Love Zero Waste helped us create a series of interviews, Instagram lives, and finally, a big podcast bringing together all these hot topics.

Here are the topics we have focused on throughout October:

Trendy reuse — the opportunities of refill, return and rent

Refill, return and rent are all examples of the broad spectrum of “reuse what we already have”. Switching from single-use to reuse, there are endless opportunities, but also a few challenges ahead. Learn more about the European reuse trends and the wave of businesses and other initiatives working to shift our minds and economy towards zero waste.

“The challenge is: how do we create economic and legal incentives to make this transition happen quickly? And how do we create the political will among politicians and the leaders of company and startups to make reuse a priority?”

Joan Marc Simon –  Zero Waste Europe

Naked products changing consumer behaviour

Consumers are ditching the packaging, and packaging-free shops and other zero waste shopping solutions are growing in numbers and scale all across Europe. Learn more about naked products and only buying as much as you need. Listen to the stories of success and failure behind this rediscovered and revamped way of shopping.

With more packaging-free shops we have more job generation, and less waste generation… Packaging Free Shops would avoid on average 1 tonne of packaging per shop per year.

Larissa Copello – Zero Waste Europe

No excuses — the end of the single-use as we know it.

The EU has announced a ban on single-use plastics, and the plastics industry is fighting back hard. With a focus on people with periods and the products they use to contain the blood, learn more about how ending single use-use items affect life on earth, your wallet, health and innovation.

It’s ok to talk about reusable period products, it’s ok to try them, and it’s ok to get to know more about them!… It’s normal, a new normal, these solutions are not for specific groups of people.

Sofia Sydorenko – Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine

“By switching to reusable menstrual products there can be annual savings of around 100 EURO per person.”

Larissa Copello – Zero Waste Europe

Our future health — with or without plastics

Illegal plastic waste exports, micro, and nano plastic particles are seeping into our bodies, and a literal wave of single-use plastics items to keep us safe in the time of the pandemic. Learn more about how plastics affect lives and health on earth, what the alternatives are, and what life on earth without plastics could look like.

Plastic bags, bottles, straws, cups and food packaging are the five big plastic monsters… governments and businesses are telling us consumers are to blame, but consumers are already changing, producers and government have to take action.”

Katja Sres – Ekologi brez meja in Slovenia

Do plastics make us sick?

“The way we produce, use and dispose of plastic can definitely have adverse effects on our health… lots of chemical additives have impacts on development and our reproductive systems.”

Justine Maillot  – Zero Waste Europe & Rethink Plastic alliance

“Some of the sources of microplastics are international, and therefore we can do something about that.. But there is a huge world of microplastics being produced unintentionally.”

Susana Fonseca – Zero

LoveZeroWaste is a collaboration between and The Good Tribe. On the podcast Love Zero Waste, Malin and Evelina facilitate the conversation with leading activists, entrepreneurs, designers, policymakers and scientists, working on solutions across the planet, to create large-scale change for a truly circular, zero waste future. Their hopes with Love Zero Waste is to inspire and educate the listeners on how to lead the efforts to close the loop.  Learn more about them here.