Press Release: Zero Waste Circular Economy, a solid investment for Sustainable Finance


01 Dec 2020


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 1st December 2020

Zero Waste Europe released today a report highlighting the importance of Sustainable Finance for a Zero Waste Circular Economy in the post-COVID-19 recovery.

The “Sustainable Finance for a Zero Waste Circular Economy ” report addresses the current lack of clarity around the concept of a Zero Waste Circular Economy (ZWCE), which has often been dominated by a business agenda. It provides clear criteria on the activities that need to be included, considered eligible, and prioritised in the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy under the umbrella of a Zero Waste Circular Economy by looking at the social, economic, climate, and environmental benefits. 

It also analyses the proposed role of Waste-to-Energy incineration and other false solutions – such as plastic to fuels and incineration of Refuse-Derived Fuel in cement plants – in the circular economy; and exposes the highly counterproductive effects of this technology on the aims and objectives of sustainable finance, therefore reiterating its exclusion

Neil Tangri, Science & Policy Director at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and co-author of the report, said: 

‘’While the EU is showing positive leadership at the regional level, it is yet to be seen how this positive trend can benefit other regions in the world.  Sustainable finance has an opportunity to demonstrate that double standards are not acceptable, and that the EU can walk the talk at international level in the same way that it does at home. Ultimately, the EU can play a visionary role by encouraging other International Financial Institutions and aid agencies to meet Zero Waste Circular Economy standards. ‘’

Mariel Vilella, Director of Global Strategy at Zero Waste Europe and co-author of the report, added:

“Zero Waste Circular Economy is a solid investment for sustainable finance. The ZWCE offers investment opportunities that are good for our society, the environment, the economy and, in particular, the post-COVID-19 recovery. New zero waste business models and zero waste public initiatives show that investing in the upper tiers of the waste hierarchy  – waste prevention, redesign, reuse, recycling, and composting – offers a much bigger return in job creation, economic recovery, and resilience than conventional end-of-pipe industrial alternatives while driving the sustainability agenda and delivering a net reduction of GHG emissions and air pollution. Giving these  solutions the support they deserve can be a game-changer for  the sustainable finance world.”  

Download the report

Download the infographic


Notes to Editors: 

Circular economy policies in the EU have progressively shaped the resource management field according to the principles of the waste hierarchy and zero waste, moving away from Waste-to-Energy incineration and prioritising material recovery. This positive process has reached a milestone with the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy – which has been discussed in the past few weeks – a key tool to mobilise the necessary capital to deliver on the policy objectives.  Going forward, the Taxonomy will become the basis for the development of new regulatory frameworks for the financial sector. Moreover, this model could have an enormous impact all over the world: it may be replicated and adapted to other institutions and European aid agencies operating overseas.

Press contacts:

Mariel Vilella, Director of Global Strategy at Zero Waste Europe

[email protected] | +44 7847 079 154

Rossella Recupero, Communications Officer at Zero Waste Europe

[email protected] | +39 3404739827