It is necessary to rethink recycling in a holistic way, building on what we know today, so that it supports rather than distract from reduction/reuse/refill; and contributes to a circular economy, instead of serving as a conscience cleaner to continue business as usual”. – Joan Marc Simon, Founder of Zero Waste Europe

We see recycling as the last resort for material management in a truly circular economy.

However, currently most products and packaging are not recyclable, nor designed to be recycled. From those products and packaging that are indeed recyclable, the majority ends up in landfills, incinerators, or dumped in the environment. Recycling has been a nice buzzword for decades but it is now time to make it a reality, or else the circular economy will remain a slogan.

ZWE is committed to increase the volumes and the quality of recycling in Europe and abroad. The EU goal of having all packaging be recyclable and recycled by 2030 will require a new approach to definitions, economic incentives, market restrictions, labelling, among others. 

Concretely, our work on recycling covers the following areas:

  • Safe, toxic-free and recyclable design;
  • Optimised collection;
  • A new approach to, and definition of, recyclability;
  • Economic incentives;
  • Scaling up recycling capacity;
  • Stopping waste exports; and
  • Reducing waste disposal infrastructure.