“Zero Waste Municipalities” is a new book written by Zero Waste France (Flore Berlingen, Laura Châtel, Thibault Turchet) and published by Rue de l’Échiquier. It is a practical guide for citizens as it gathers together practical tools to better understand and take action on our mounting waste problem.
Based on best practices and successful examples of waste management across Europe, the book offers a comprehensive and ambitious overview on how to better manage our waste while analysing opportunities and obstacles that local stakeholders may encounter on the path towards zero waste.
The book is divided into three chapters covering:
- 9 building blocks to engage local communities on the path to zero waste (including practical examples and best practices from plastic-packaging reduction to bio-waste management).
- Economic and social benefits of the zero waste approach, including all the necessary practical knowledge for municipalities to kick start their journey towards zero waste.
- Strategies to implement the zero waste approach at the political level.
We had the pleasure to interview Thibault Turchet, one of the book’s co-authors, to learn more about this inspiring publication:
- Hi, Thibault, can you briefly introduce yourself: how long have you been in the field and what got you into (Zero) waste?
Hi Zero Waste Europe. Well, my academic background is law and I’ve always been very committed to environmental protection. In 2014 I decided to join Zero Waste France and since 2016 I have been working as their Legal Affairs Supervisor. On the local level, this role involves working to empower communities to promote zero waste strategies and managing legal strategies to implement environmental legislations. On the national level, I am advocating across various institutions to create a favourable ecosystem for the growth of the zero waste movement. Currently, I am working on the regular environmental law reforms carried out by the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, to ensure that waste prevention and waste reduction strategies will be included.
- What is the main focus of Zero Waste France? What made you decide to create a book?
Zero Waste France is a Paris based NGO, created in 1997 to advocate for waste reduction and recycling in France. We work with multiple stakeholders to improve regulations concerning waste management at the local and national level. We also lead campaigns to raise public opinion, as well as working with new actors willing to get involved in Zero Waste programs (municipalities, entrepreneurs, local groups, etc.).
The book was the result of a collaboration between Flore Berlingen and Laura Châtel, (Director and Advocacy Supervisor at Zero Waste France) and myself. As you might know, the French Municipal elections will be held in March 2020 – they represent a great opportunity to raise awareness on waste management and call future policy makers to add it in their political agenda for the upcoming year. Therefore, we have decided to publish a book which identifies strategies and models to reduce waste at the local level, highlighting opportunities and benefits of the zero waste approach.
“The book is an answer to the need to engage people, share knowledge and good practices, on how to deal with waste and, in general, our planet’s resources”.
- What is the main target (audience) of the book? And how did you address this when writing it?
Although zero waste solutions and initiatives are successfully working in many municipalities across France, there is still a need to turn the zero waste approach into a real political project. With this perspective in mind, the book specifically targets future candidates for the upcoming municipal elections.
“The book is a tool to address a message out to all candidates and highlight the importance of waste management as a political topic on which they have levers and powers to act”.
However, to reach as many readers as possible, including the general public, “Zero Waste Municipalities” also contains a central booklet which intends to explain the functioning of waste management through visuals and info-graphics. Indeed, the book is short and clear, it includes pictures and figures to better explain waste management strategies and regulatory developments, becoming an opportunity to gain an overview of best practices and key figures of the zero waste approach.
Moreover, the book has been promoted both at the local and national level. At the local level we have engaged our community based groups (Zero Waste France has currently 80 of them spread across France) in order to encourage them to contact their candidates directly on the field. National media and newspaper have also promoted it in the last few months.
- How would you briefly describe the growth of the zero waste movement in France?
The first chapter of the book, actually, outlines “9 building blocks”, showcasing different waste management practices across the country and beyond. Indeed, in the last five years, the zero waste movement has grown rapidly. Good results have been achieved all across the country as shown by the Global Survey on waste management which showcases good performances and results across France. In addition, French citizens are more and more aware of the necessity to engage on the field.
“The zero waste approach is not only necessary but it is feasible and beneficial for local communities not only from an environmental perspective but also in terms of costs.”
- What do you identify as the main challenges to actually changing the way we currently deal with waste?
France is quite advanced in waste management and many positive achievements have been made, especially in the last 2-3 years both at the national and local level. Yet, as in every country, some municipalities are still behind especially in implementing effective separate collection systems for bio-waste.
Moreover, municipalities across the country should focus more on the implementation of PAYT (Pay-As-You-Throw) systems if they want to meet European recycling targets.
- Why have you decided to focus on the local/city level?
In France, most of waste management policies: such as specific incentives or the decision to implement different collection systems are regulated at the local level. Therefore, local policy-makers have the actual and direct power to decide how to deal with their waste.
- What \reactions\ have you had from municipalities regarding the book? What kind of impact were you expecting to have, especially considering the upcoming election?
The book has already received a good reaction from the public with more than 3000 copies already sold. The publication has also been used during several meetings with public authorities and European policy makers to explain the necessity of moving towards a zero waste approach when dealing with our resources. Our goal is to build a positive debate around the topic of zero waste in order to succeed in bringing all the candidates and the civil society on board with us. We rely on the book to keep working in this direction.
You can find more about Zero Waste France and their work here.