Waste Policies & Best Practice

We support the transition from a throw-away society to a zero waste world through policies and best practice of waste reduction at source, repair, re-use and recycling.

© Zero Waste France

In Europe we waste too much and from the waste we generate most of it is still buried or burned. Only 40% is recycled, most of it downcycled into products and materials of lower value than the original ones. Zero Waste Europe challenges conventional waste management which is inherently designed for a linear economy. We propose the managing of resources in a way that their value and energy are preserved, thereby enabling a circular economy as well as economic savings for the public authorities and reducing environmental, and health impacts.


A zero waste strategy is based on an ambitious waste prevention policy, proactive reuse and and optimised separate collection of waste at source to guarantee quality recycling. By reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, zero waste strategies are faster to implement, cheaper to operate and safer for the environment than traditional waste management.


All in all a zero waste strategy is about involving the community in the management of their own resources, and making it cheaper and more convenient for the citizen to do the right thing.


Zero Waste Europe works with communities and municipalities to implement zero waste strategies in a growing number of European towns using this expertise to effectively advocate for zero waste policies at the EU level.

Want more about our work on waste policy?

Here are a few related posts...

Library for Waste Policies

Library for Waste Policies & Best Practice

Waste & COVID-19. Study of new environmental impacts in the context of COVID-19 in Ukraine

This study focused on the possibility to adapt and provide appropriate recommendations on the response of the Ukrainianwaste management system to the СОVID-19 crisis. The report has been developed by our member Zero Waste Lviv in cooperation with the NGO Ekoltava and the Custom research agency Fama.

Italy’s law for donation and distribution of food and pharmaceuticals to limit food waste

In August 2016, Italy passed a law which aimed to reduce food waste at each step of the food supply chain with a strong focus on donation and distribution of food waste and pharmaceutical products. Instead of penalising, the law incentivises entities to donate or distribute food about to be wasted through tax rebates. Read more in our factsheet.

Available in English, Hungarian and Italian.

France’s law for fighting food waste

In February 2016, France adopted a law on fighting food waste that meant supermarkets were forbidden to destroy unsold food products and were compelled to donate it instead. This law constituted the starting point of the fight against food waste through banning its destruction and facilitating donation. Since the adoption, its scope has been extended further, as defined through new decrees and laws. Read more in our factsheet.

Available in English, Hungarian and Italian.

Open letter on Common Agricultural Policy & Green New Deal

Open letter to the President of the European Commission, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament calling for full alignment of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy with the European Green Deal.

Available in English 

Harmonisation of waste separate collection across Europe

We joined forces with the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) to provide our policy recommendations to the European Commission concerning the harmonisation of waste separate collection across Europe.

Available in English

European Commission commitment on tackling food waste in the Farm to Fork Strategy

We joined forces with other 9 NGOs to ask the European Commission to rethink their food waste commitments in the recently released Farm to Fork Strategy. We suggest binding targets committing to a 50% reduction by 2030 and introducing food waste prevention as mandatory criteria for sustainable food procurement.

Available in English

Bio-waste generation in the EU: Current capture levels and future potential

Zero Waste Europe and the Bio-based Industries Consortium analyse the untapped potential of biowaste (garden and food waste) in Europe. The first study of its kind details the current generation and capture rates in the EU with dedicated country fact-sheets and municipalities best practice.

Available in English

The case for an integrated Waste Prevention Framework. Can the European Union support waste prevention without a proper legislation?

Zero Waste Europe released a policy briefing which addresses the current EU legislation on waste management and analyses different ways to design a comprehensive and coherent waste prevention framework which embeds all different steps of the supply chains from sustainable production patterns to sustainable waste management.

Available in English & Hungarian

Building a bridge strategy for residual waste. Material Recovery and Biological Treatment to manage residual waste within a circular economy

Zero Waste Europe releases today a policy briefing which highlights the importance of defining a new strategy for managing residual waste that corresponds with the requirements of the age of climate emergency that we are living in. The report defines an approach based on Material Recovery and Biological Treatment as a bridge strategy for managing residuals within a circular economy.

Available in English, Polish & Italian.

FAQ on COVID-19 and zero waste

Zero Waste Europe analyses the impacts of COVID-19 on zero waste and suggests what can be done to keep working toward a zero waste future.

Available in English, Czech & Italian.

Zero Waste Europe’s Feedback on the Farm to Fork Strategy: towards a food system free of chemicals, overpackaging and waste

The Farm to Fork Strategy presents a great opportunity to profoundly reshape our relation to food and design food waste, hazardous chemicals and overpackaging out of our food system. Addressing such issues specifically requires a holistic vision leading to coordinated actions all along the food supply chain. Read Zero Waste Europe’s feedback on the new Farm to Fork Strategy Roadmap.

Available in English

The landfill target may work against the circular economy. Should we minimise percentages or tonnes?

This Policy Briefing which analyses in depth the new Landfill Directive, part of the Circular Economy Package adopted in 2018. Specifically, the landfill minimisation target obliges Member States to limit the amount of municipal waste due to be landfilled to 10% or less of municipal waste generated at any given year by 2035.  As the briefing describes, meeting the target is extremely challenging and the way it’s defined and must be calculated (in any given year and defined as a percentage) may contradict the overarching principles of the EU Circular Economy Agenda.


Available in English, Spanish & French

Zero Waste Europe response to the new Circular Economy Action Plan Consultation

Zero Waste Europe welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to developing its Circular Economy efforts as part of the European Green Deal and we are happy to submit our recommendations in line with our vision to create a zero waste Europe.  Read our response to the new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) Consultation.

Available in English.

Open letter on the Farm to Fork strategy to achieve sustainable food systems

We joined forces with other 39  civil society organisations to call the European Institutions to highlight the priorities and actions that the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy should have in order to provide a coherent response to societal concerns about biodiversity, climate change, health, income of all workers in the food chain, social equity and animal welfare, amongst others.

Available in English.

Community Composting: A Practical Guide for Local Management of Biowaste

Fertile Auro released a new practical guide compiling data, regulatory frameworks and challenges of existing community composting sites aimed at fostering good practices and suggesting future implementations.

Available in English and, for the Spanish version you are going to be redirected here.


Residual waste capacity assessment

Our latest report assesses the residual waste treatment capacity of fourteen countries at risk of missing the 2020 targets for reuse and recycling, and includes recommendations to develop their waste management system in line with a circular economy.

Available in English


Joint position on the Romanian Ministry of Environment new integrated waste management project

The Romanian Ministry of Environment’s new integrated waste management project does not comply with zero waste
principles, and promote obsolete technologies that are far from circular. Read our open letter.


Available in English


Research study on holistic indicators for waste prevention

The new study identifies how to best measure waste prevention and what are the most useful policies to minimise waste generation.


Available in English


Food Systems: a ‘recipe’ for food waste prevention

Food Waste is an economic, environmental, social and ethical issue. The strategy to tackle it has to cover the whole food system from crop to compost. Read the Zero Waste Europe Policy Briefing on Food Systems.

Available in English and in Hungarian

Rethinking Economic Incentives for Separate Collection

A study produced by Rezero for Zero Waste Europe & Reloop Platform looking at how the circular economy can be taken to the next level through the extended use of existing economic measures.

Available in: English

Separate Collection: The path to composting

A report produced by Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth Spain) and translated by Zero Waste Europe examining various separate collection methods and the impact and effectiveness of these approaches.

My Zero Waste Event Guide

A guide on how to run zero waste events. Produced by Zero Waste France, and translated by Zero Waste Europe.

Available in English

The Waste Sector Under the Effort Sharing Decision Effort Sharing Decision

This policy paper lays out Zero Waste Europe’s position on the waste sector under the Effort Sharing Decision, based on research demonstrating the true impact of that waste has on greenhouse gas emissions.


Available in English

Zero Waste to Landfill: false paths to a Circular Economy

This policy paper warns against the use of landfill bans and advocates for the use of more effective instruments to reduce residual waste and advance towards a circular economy.

Available in English.

The Potential Contribution of Waste Management to a Low Carbon Economy – Executive Summary

The Executive Summary of our report into the potential that waste management poses for the transition to a low carbon economy. This report commissioned by Zero Waste Europe, in partnership with Zero Waste France and ACR+  and conducted by Eunomia, highlights key problems with the current UNFCCC waste inventories, as well as providing recommendations for their improvement.

The Executive Summary includes key recommendations and findings from the full report.