The story of Gipuzkoa - Zero Waste Cities


The story of Gipuzkoa


Thanks to an alternative infrastructure plan, the province of Gipuzkoa, located in the Spanish Basque Country, has almost doubled its recycling rate in four years (from 2011 to 2015) and made investing in an incineration plant obsolete. The new plan aimed at complying with the EU recycling targets of 50% for 2020, phasing out the disposal of recyclable waste and stopping landfilling of untreated waste. To achieve these ambitious goals four measures were implemented:

  • Intensive separate collection
  • A special attention to the treatment of organic waste for which especially dedicated practices such as home-composting and community composting were encourage
  • Specific projects were developed with social players to build awareness about waste reduction and reuse
  • To prevent food waste, in 2013 the government collaborated with the Food Bank of Gipuzkoa to work with people with risk of social exclusion to distribute 741 tons of food to those in need.

Today, the province is the living proof that a transition towards a circular economy system is possible: 

  • Waste generation reduced by 7%
  • Residual waste reduced by 32% 
  • Recycling rate raised from 32% to 51% 
  • Creation of 10 times more jobs in the treatment of waste 

Download the Case Study

Further questions?

Contact us if you want more information on the case study


Other Best Practices

Learn from the frontrunners how a city can move towards zero waste


The Story of Newport

Wales/United Kingdom

The story of Newport shows that when separate collection systems prioritise quality over just quantity, and invest heavily in meaningfully engaging with the community, world-leading results can be achieved.



Recycling rate



Recycling rate

The story of Munich


From 2016 thanks to its reuse hub, Halle 2, the city of Munich managed to reuse or repair 1,000 tonnes of items each year


51,877 euro

Monthly income of Halle 2 in 2016


56,756 euro

Monthly income of Halle 2 in 2019


Supported by the LIFE Programme of the European Union. This website does not necessarily reflect the views of the donors.