28 Mar 2024

Written by

Giulia Lodi

Creating Prevention Pioneers: Insights from our training on plastic prevention and reuse strategies in Berlin

Cities & CommunitiesERIC project

On 18-20 March 2024, the city of Berlin was host to more than 50 participants from over 20 European countries for a three-day training organised by ZWE and MiZA on plastic prevention and reuse for cities. The event offered a unique platform for both ZWE members and city officials to exchange insights and learn about effective strategies for citizens to reduce their dependence on single-use materials, whilst meaningfully engaging the community in such programmes.

Additionally, we delved into the progress of the Elevating Reuse in Cities (ERIC) project, which is providing cities with greater knowledge and resources to tackle waste generation, through the implementation of locally-tailored plastic prevention plans with municipalities.

“The two days training provided by Zero Waste Europe met all my expectations. I came back from Berlin with a lot of inspiration from other cities’ projects, and a sense of common actions between European cities. Right after the training we jumped into cities direct cooperation for operational projects : how to implement reuse for Christmas markets ? How to conduct a zero plastic marathon ? How to set a plastic tax at municipal level with the example of Tubingen.” Lila Durix, Single-Use Plastic Exit Project Manager, City of Paris

Over the following two days, we welcomed city officials and representatives, whose insights offered a valuable perspective on implementation strategies. During the meeting, we took a deep-dive to learn more from the stories emerging from Geneva, Berlin, and Paris. In each city, they are showcasing innovative approaches to waste prevention, emphasising stakeholder engagement and effective communication tailored to local needs.

In Paris, we focused on their prevention plans ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games, which will mandate reusable bowls and cups for the first time. Whilst looking at communications especially, we had an expert join us, co-founder of WeAreSapience, who led a workshop on effective nudging strategies for waste prevention, drawing on neuroscience findings and successful practical cases from around the EU.

“I loved meeting the Zero Waste Europe team in person. The workshop was very well organised and very friendly. As a representative from a non-European country, the workshop was very useful for me to exchange ideas with municipalities that share similar ambitions and to be able to share our difficulties and solutions. These are valuable exchanges that I hope to be able to continue over the long term.” Zoé Cimatti, Waste Management Engineer, City of Geneva

It’s important for us that we combine these workshops with practical experiences and learning, which is why we always incorporate a site visit or two during each event. In Berlin, we visited two of the city’s most pioneering prevention initiatives.

First, we visited the office of VYTAL, a sustainable reusable packaging system with over 6,000 partner businesses nationwide. VYTAL offers a complimentary service of reusable containers for various food items, including sushi and pizza, for both delivery and take-away. Thanks to an easy-to-use app, people can order food and choose to have it delivered in the reusable ‘VYTAL’ containers. After using them, the containers need to be cleaned and returned within 14 days, keeping everything simple and eco-friendly.

The second site visit took us to the “Nochmall” Reuse Centre, Berlin’s pioneering large-scale warehouse dedicated to second-hand goods. Here, citizens can contribute disused items for refurbishment and resale. Spanning over 2,000 square metres, the centre offers a diverse range of items including furniture, clothing, household appliances, toys, books, and more. Beyond its extensive offerings, “Nochmall” serves as a vibrant community hub, hosting repair cafes and various events, fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

“It was a very interesting experience, I gained knowledge about this recent and vast topic and allowed me to share projects and establish partnerships with several European municipalities and several zero waste organisations. Thanks for the opportunity!” Vera Neves, Leader of the Environmental Unit, Municipal Council of São João da Madeira

We were extremely grateful during this visit to be welcomed by representatives of the Berlin Senate, the BSR (city waste management company) and also the newly founded Zero Waste Agency for the city – each of whom gave a short presentation on their work within the city-wide zero waste concept.

“After three days with zero-waste experts and city representatives from across the EU, we’re more determined and convinced than ever that we can make zero waste communities a living reality in Europe. Now, ZWE’s mission is to strengthen this network of leaders, dedicated to creating reuse ecosystems, implementing waste prevention policies in their cities, and inspiring others to act.” Manon Jourdan, Implementation Officer, ZWE

We want to thank again all the participants and presenters who joined us from across Europe, as well as to the Zero Waste Germany and Zero Waste Berlin team for their invaluable logistical support.

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