Network of Zero Waste Towns Meeting

On Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd April 2016, Ljubljana, the 2016 European Green Capital, and first Zero Waste European Capital, played host to municipal representatives, entrepreneurs, zero waste campaigners and experts as part of the Network of Zero Waste Towns Meeting.

The conference was opened by an introduction to the history of Ljubljana and the implementation of zero waste policies in the city, from Erika Oblak of Ekologi Brez Meja. From the early struggle against the construction of an incinerator and the subsequent referendum, with overwhelming opposition in 1999 to just a few years later, having the neighboring town of Vrhnika already leading the way with recycling rates as high as 50% as early as 2003. When in 2012 another incineration plan was proposed, Ekologi Brez Meja with Zero Waste Europe’s support, successfully countered the plan with a zero waste alternative, which has led Ljubljana to being the waste management success story that it is today. This was followed by Zero Waste Europe, Director, Joan Marc Simon expressing how amazing it was that such significant progress had been made by the city in only 2 ½ years.

The first discussion panel focused on reusable nappies, featuring Elizabeta Zust, from a nursery in Vhrnika that only uses cloth nappies and Hilary Vick, from Nappy Ever After, a nappy laundry service in London. The panel also included Joan Crous from the Eta Beta/Lavandacooperative in Bologna, Italy, where 1,100 to 1,800 nappies are washed and delivered every day. The panel covered the environmental and social benefits of reusable nappies as well as technical and commercial difficulties and issues surrounding the issue. This provided highly informative, inspirational and technical discussion by the participants. Tourism was the focus of the next panel discussion. With Nina Kosin from the Ljubljana Tourism Board opened with a focus on the significance of the Green Capital award for the city, as well as the introduction of reusable crockery at the Christmas market with a deposit scheme in place. Antonio Esposito spoke about Conka Park, the first zero waste hotel in Sorrento, Italy.

With a wide range of initiatives promoting zero waste in the hotel, they have found significant success, and positive reactions from the hotel guests.The afternoon of the first day covered the topic of food waste. Involving food waste entrepreneur Joris Depouillon from the Food Waste Entrepreneur Network, Laura Chatel, from Zero Waste France, and Albin Keuc, from Food Waste Reduction a Slovenian initiative which has provided 16 DIY tools for food waste reduction. The participants emphasised the importance of differentiating between ‘food waste’ and ‘food surplus’ with the larger portion remaining fit for human consumption, the highest level of the ‘food waste hierarchy’.The second day was opened by Zero Waste Europe’s President, from Capannori, Italy – Rossano Ercolini. Before hearing speeches from Zoran Janković, the Mayor of Ljubljana, and Irena Majcen, the Slovenian Minister for the Environment and Spatial Planning, offering their insights on Ljubljana’s success as a environmental leader across Europe.

The keynote speaks for the day was from Paul Connett, internationally renowned campaigner on zero waste, with over 30 years of experience in working on incineration and waste issues. Dr. Connett used his time to speak on zero waste as stepping stone to sustainability. His speech presented an inspiring vision of citizen action for the creation of a world without waste, a sustainable future and a better planet.

This was followed by a discussion of policies on a local level, with Tihana Jelacic, from Prekom, the Croatian waste management company for Prelog and the surrounding municipalities, who have recently adopted a Zero Waste Strategy, and are working to implement zero waste policies and practices. Stojan Jakin, from Vrhnika, the first Zero Waste Town in Slovenia spoke about how ranking towns by the recycling rates can be misleading when towns like Vrhnika are reducing the amount of residual waste year-on-year despite a less dramatic increase in recycling rates.Matteo Francesconi, the Deputy Mayor of Capanorri spoke about how Capannori was first launched on the road to zero waste by the anti-incineration fight led by Rossano Ercolini, and now has a holistic approach to waste, with a system that adapts to the local reality and, therefore, integrates local people at every level.

In the afternoon. Mitja Praznik, from Snaga, the waste management company in Ljubljana went into great detail and depth on exactly how Ljubljana has become the best performing capital in waste management in EuropeThis was followed by Mariel Vilella, Associate Director of Zero Waste Europe explaining the immense impact which waste management has on climate change, and how current accounting methods downplay this impact. Emphasising that it is time that we harvested this ‘low-hanging-fruit’ when it comes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. The full presentation by Mariel is available online, with visual slides making a strong case for ‘Zero Waste’ as ‘Climate Action!’. The route to moving towards this low-carbon economy through zero waste is detailed in Zero Waste Europe’s recent report, The Potential Contribution of Waste Management to a Low Carbon Economy’.  Mariel, made a strong and compelling case that cities are at the forefront of this effort to move away from carbon-intensive waste management practices, with cities being uniquely positioned to implement effective and efficient policies. David Franquesa, then took to the stage to present eReuse, an open source reuse platform for electronic waste, which can be used to dramatically extend the use life of electronic products, as well as ensuring the traceability of the items from reuse through to recycling. The final speaker at the conference was from the ECO-PULPLAST project which works with the paper industry in Northern Italy to recycle pulper waste from the recycling of paper to make ‘eco-sustainable plastic pallets’. This project has significant support from key players in the paper recycling industry where it forms a major alternative to waste incineration and offers a way to reduce costs.

The conference incorporated a wide range of expertise and experience. With inspiring and informative talks from politicians, industry representatives, social entrepreneurs, activists, and innovator. The focus on local action towards zero waste presented a number of concrete actions that can be taken by different municipalities in following the path to zero waste.

Discover more about the conference: here!


Ekologi brez meja (Ecologists without Borders)

Ekologi brez meja (Ecologists without Borders) is an NGO which grew from two ‘Let’s Cleanup Slovenia’ campaigns that are still considered the largest volunteers events in the history of the nation. We managed to connect 289.000 (or 14% of population) of individuals, businesses, NGOs, institutions and even President’s office, who later decorated us with the order of merit. After 2012, we decided to focus on dealing with waste at its source.We coordinate the Zero Waste Slovenija programme, which is a part of Zero Waste Europe network. With our help, six Slovenian municipalities – among them also Ljubljana – set their zero waste goals. With Zadruga Dobrote as a partner, we set up Tekstilnica: separate collection and regular monthly exchanges of textiles and second hand clothes. The project contributed to generation of seven new green jobs. With the project Volk sit, koza cela, we draw the attention to food waste problems in Slovenia. Project Zdrave ritke aims at breaking the myths about the use of cloth nappies. We are a part of the global Let’s do it! movement of 112 countries and we helped start Let’s do it Mediterranean.Our mission is activation, motivation and cooperation of individuals, communities, policy makers, industry, businesses and researchers in the area of an efficient use of natural resources with the aim to reduce costs, preserve energy and create new green jobs.

Zero Waste Europe


Zero Waste Europe was created to empower communities to rethink their relationship with resources. In a growing number of regions, local groups of individuals, businesses and city officials have taken significant steps towards eliminating waste in our society. Zero Waste Europe engages these groups at two levels: supporting local groups with independent knowledge and streamlined tools to drive change more efficiently, structuring the movement internationally to better represent the interests of our communities at the EU level and engage policymakers with a unified voice. We are both a knowledge network and an advocacy group, representing active communities in countries across the EU. We want to redesign our society so that all superfluous waste is eliminated and everything that is produced can be reused, repaired, composted or recycled back into the system. Anything that can’t be repaired, composted or recycled should be re-designed and replaced or banned from entering the market.


8:00 - 8:30




Welcome speech

Joan Marc Simon

Executive Director, Zero Waste Europe

Joan Marc is based in Brussels where he coordinates the work of Zero Waste Europe. He has been a leading voice for Zero Waste in Europe since 2007, dramatically increasing the visibility and policy impact of Zero Waste efforts in this time. He is a regular keynote speaker in many industry and NGO meetings in Brussels but also at local level as well as internationally. In 2015 he has authored the Zero Waste Case Study “The Story of Contarina” and “The Story of Guipuzkoa” as well as the book “Zero Waste – How to reactivate the economy without trashing the planet”. With training in Economics and Development Cooperation, he has more than 10 years of experience working with governmental and non-governmental organisations in the field of good governance, new economics, social justice, and environment.

Welcome speech

Erika Oblak

Director, Ecologists without borders

Erika works as the Zero Waste Slovenija coordinator at Ecologists without Borders Association. Since the program was established in 2014, six Slovenian municipalities have adopted their Zero Waste plans. Among others Vrhnika with 80% separate collection and Ljubljana as first European capital on the road to Zero Waste. Several other municipalities in Slovenia have started recognition procedures. Erika has been advocating for Zero Waste since 2000, when she started actively opposing municipal waste incineration plans in Slovenia – both as volunteer and later professionally. Among others, she was a managing director of Umanotera, Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable development. Before her involvement with NGOs, she worked in IT, a few years as a CIO for largest Slovenian print distribution company.

9:00 - 11:00


Elizabeta Žust

Vrhnika Nursery

Disposable nappies represent most of the residual waste of a nursery. By introducing cloth nappies, Vrhnika Nursery halved the amount of residual waste and reduced costs. If you take a look at the residuals bin of a nursery, you’ll see that disposable nappies represent most of the waste. As suggested by Ecologists without Borders Association, the Kindergarten Vrhnika conducted a survey among parents of toddlers (1-3 years). 70% of parents supported the idea of introducing reusable nappies, so we started the project in 2014. After a year and a half, results are better than expected. The amount of used disposable nappies was almost halved from 54.000 to 28.000 and collection runs of residual waste fell from 140 to 70 per year. Child caretakers observe less cases of nappy rash and also use less barrier cream. Last but not least, transition from nappies to underwear happens earlier. We saved 5000 € due to reduced amount of waste and 6000 € due to halved amount of disposable nappies. After one year, reusable nappies are still in good condition which means we will be saving money that would otherwise be spent on disposable nappies.

Joan Crous

Coop Eta Beta/Lavanda

LAVANDA offers a rental and laundry service of reusable nappies to public and private nurseries. Since 2009 they are serving over 40 public and private kindergartens of Bologna and its surroundings. They don’t produce nappies themselves, because their aim is to continuously improving their service, and working with different producers enables them to look for the best solutions. They wash and deliver nappies to kindergartens, and also repair and recycle them. LAVANDA has three major principles: social: it gives opportunity for employment to disadvantaged people within the social cooperative preservation of our environment health of children. The LAVANDA service embodies the concept of sustainable development according to the definition of ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives): “Development that provides environmental, basic social and economic services to all members of a community without threatening the operability of natural, urban and social systems”.

Hilary Vick

Nappy Ever After

Nappy Ever After (NEA) is a cotton nappy laundry service based in Hackney, East London. When Hilary Vick started NEA in 2003 she had no idea whether there was a market for a nappy laundry service in London. With the help of a CRED lottery grant NEA ran a subsidised laundry service and within 2 years was collecting 8,000 nappies per week from households and nurseries to be laundered, diverting approx. 2 tonnes of disposable nappy waste a week from landfill and incineration. Since the Lottery grant finished NEA has been self-sustaining. NEA still outsources the laundering of nappies. To expand the nappy laundry service and secure a reliable future for the business the next step is to establish and manage its own eco-laundry. Hilary Vick is still a director of NEA but also runs the ‘Real Nappies for London’ campaign. Established in 2007 this pan-London real nappy information scheme offers local authorities a service of marketing and processing vouchers for residents to buy reusable nappies or try a nappy laundry service.

11:00 - 11:30




Janez Resman

Infrastruktura Bled

Bled is world famous tourist destination and Infrastruktura Bled d.o.o. manages their water supply and waste collection. In 2014 Bled decided to follow Zero Waste goals, which is fully complied with Bled tourist strategy: green and healthy. With over 70 % of separately collected municipal waste, Bled has been among best performing Slovenian communities. They set their goals to 75 % separate collection by 2020, focusing especially on business sector, where the results are not optimized yet. To achieve those goals, they plan to carry out the following: Hotels: they studied waste management in hotels in the area and educated the personnel how to reduce mixed waste and how to reduce their waste management costs. Camping: they analysed composition of their waste and proposed additional containers for bio waste collection. Special brochure on »separating waste« was published for guests in camping sites in 4 languages. They receive the brochure at the check in. Waste bins around the lake: more than 100 waste bins for separate collection were set along the footpath around the lake. Containers are clearly marked with visible signs. The results are impressive: in just two years they halved the quantity of mixed waste collected around the lake. Taste Bled: they worked with local restaurants to offer biodegradable and reusable cutlery at Taste Bled events during summer (highest tourist season).

Antonino Esposito

Zero Waste Hotel in Italy

The project is aimed not just to reduce waste and establish separate collection, but mainly to outline sustainable use of resources: from producers to suppliers, from staff to guests. Through posters displayed in the hotel, and thanks to information given by staff, guest can understand how to conform to hotel’s environmental practices: using recycled materials and not using throwaway items (sugar bowls instead of thousands of sugar sachets, refillable dispenser for jam, mayonnaise, soap … instead of hundred thousands of single throw-away items, beverage in refillable water bottles…). Hotel invites guests to buy water bottles and get free water from dispensers instead of using thousand of plastic bottles. Hotel has its own composting of organic waste and uses compost as fertilizer.

Nina Kosik

Ljubljana Tourism

Welcome to Ljubljana, a city celebrating all things green! Sit down and watch the world go by in the city’s stylish and relaxed living room by a green river, where cyclists and pedestrians are kings, drinking water is naturally clean, and zero waste is a target. Changes towards sustainability made in Ljubljana since 2007, when a large part of the city centre was turned into a car-free area, serve as an excellent basis for taking Ljubljana’s green tourism product to a whole new level. Sustainable tourism is a major cornerstone of the Tourist Destination of Ljubljana’s business development and marketing strategy for the period 2014–2020. This has been reflected in a number of important measures for sustainable tourism product development, such as the implementation of the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS), developed by the European Commission to facilitate sustainable management at destination level, participation in the Green Scheme for Slovenian Tourism, and collaboration with the local accommodation establishments in the process of certification in accordance with the Travelife international sustainability criteria and implementation of green regional supply chains. The range of concrete measures to improve the city’s cleanliness and enhance its appearance has found expression in a white rose cultivar called Ljubljana, bred specially for the Slovenian capital to symbolize its cleanliness and beauty.

13:30 - 14:30


14:30 - 16:30


Joris Depouillon

Food Surplus Enterpreneurs

Joris Depouillon is co-founder of FSE Network, the innovation network on food waste. The network supports and connects 200 food waste innovators across Europe. With this knowledge, FSE Network helps cities and individuals reduce food waste. FSE Network is currently doing projects with the city of Brugge (Food Council, Sustainable Food Strategy, Feeding the 5000) and Brussels (introducing doggy bags to 50 restaurants) to reduce food waste. Furthermore, it organized Europe’s first Food Waste Challenge in Amsterdam in February 2016. This event aims at launching new social entrepreneurs to reduce food waste or use food surplus in order to create an innovative dynamic in cities. FSE Network is currently active in 7 countries.

Laura Chatel

Zero Waste France

Zero Waste France is an independently funded French NGO which has been advocating for waste reduction since 1997, talking to local and national public officials as well as citizens groups or businesses. It remains the only French national association specialized in waste-related issues. Last year, France passed a law to tackle food waste in the distribution sector. Among other measures, the text makes it mandatory for supermarkets of a certain size to hand the leftovers to NGOs. If the text has a strong symbolical value, it is necessary to analyse what are the concrete results to be expected from this law on the battle against food waste and what will be needed in order for it to be effectively implemented. Additionally, a lot of other measures can be taken by supermarkets to reduce food waste. In that respect, some French supermarkets are implementing good practices that would need to become widespread.

Albin Keuc

SLOGA Platform

Albin Keuc works at SLOGA, a platform of non-governmental organizations (NGO), which work in the field of international development cooperation, global education and humanitarian aid. Platform is aiming on global solidarity and interdependence. Just think about food, hunger and poverty. Albin Keuc has working experience on national and international level from NGOs to governmental level as campaigner, project manager or consultant, counselling environmental minister, authoring several studies on efficiency issues (waste management, assessment tools, public participation, environmental policies) and wrote handbooks for citizens on waste, EIAs, SEAs, traffic and noise issues, lecturing on resource effciciency, grass-root organizing and initiating societal response on our time key demands. In 2014 and 2015 Albin worked with Ecologists without borders in the project “Volk sit, koza cela” (prov. The wolf is fed, the lamb alive) or SLOfood, in cooperation with Ostfoldforskning and Razvojna zadruga eTRI on food waste. And learned a lot.

16:30 - 17:00


8:00 - 8:30


8:30 - 9:00


Welcome Speech

Rossano Ercolini

Zero Waste Europe

Rossano is a primary school teacher, and passionate Zero Waste leader. He has more than 20 years experience in the waste field and is a leading name of the zero waste movement in Italy. As a result of his efforts his home-town Capannori was the first European city to declare the goal of zero waste by 2020. He has helped the Zero Waste movement grow beyond the Italian borders into what is now the Zero Waste Europe movement. In 2013 Rossano was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the “Green Nobel Prize” for his contributions to the Zero Waste movement in Italy.

Welcome Speech

Zoran Jankovic

Mayor of the City of Ljubljana

Zoran Janković, once CEO of retailer Mercator (1997-2005), now the Mayor of Ljubljana since 2006, is thriving in his fourth term, which he won as an independent candidate through direct and secret elections in 2014. Mr. Janković, with his team, reshaped the management team of the City of Ljubljana. Under his leadership the city has gained new momentum; as a European capital with a vision of sustainable and spatial development until 2025 has a future of a modern, yet individual friendly, well-kept and safe city. More than 1700 projects were implemented for higher quality of living. Ljubljana is the European capital with the largest share of separately collected waste and the first European capital to be part of the Zero Waste Europe network with a Zero Waste Strategy. The Mayor represents City of Ljubljana and the City Council. As the holder of executive power he is responsible for implementation of the City Council’s decisions. He is always open to suggestions and initiatives from the citizens and once a month the citizens are welcome to visit him for a personal conversation at the City Hall on the »Day of Open Door«. So far he accepted over 21000 citizens. In 2008 French newspaper Libération, published a list of 36 individuals from the 27 EU member states that would shape tomorrow’s Europe, among them Zoran Janković, Mayor of the City of Ljubljana. As noted in the Paris newspaper, Janković is a successful businessman that embodies the Slovenian success story. The City Mayors Foundation, which promotes good city governance around the world, named Janković as the Mayor of the Month in December 2011, and he was among 25 best mayors in the world of 2012.

Welcome Speech

Irena Majcen

Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning

Irena Majcen is a specialist on the environment and spatial planning. Prior to becoming Minister, she was Head of the Department of the Environment, Spatial Planning, Transport and Communications at the Administrative Unit Slovenska Bistrica, which boasts the best statistics on obtaining construction and operating permits. In the last four years, she worked in the field of issuing building permits, development approvals, managed some procedures for the Ministry, expropriations, etc., which is how she knows the Ministry’s areas of work also from the viewpoint of the user. Between 2005 and 2010, she was Mayor of the Municipality of Slovenska Bistrica.

9:00 - 9:30



Paul Connett

Zero Waste International Alliance

Dr. Paul Connett, an author, scientist, and scholar is well known for his advocacy work for Zero Waste. With a PHD in chemistry specializing in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, and over 30 years of research on waste management, as a scientist and scholar, Paul is a knowledgeable authority on the negative impacts from waste incinerators, as well as an inspiring Zero Waste educator. Paul’s research has taken him to communities around the world to profile successful Zero Waste initiatives. Dr. Cornett’s current book, The Zero Waste Solution is a toolkit for un‐trashing the planet and creating Zero Waste communities.

9:30 - 10:00


10:00 - 12:30



Tihana Jelačić


Representatives of the city of Prelog and six surrounding municipalities recently signed the European “Zero Waste 2020” strategy. Local authorities – which are already leaders in sustainable waste management in Croatia – have committed to meet the ambitious goal of 70% separately collected waste by 2020. The seven local authorities in Lower Međimurje (the city of Prelog, and the districts of Goričan, Donji Kraljevec, Sveta Marija, Donji Vidovec, Donja Dubrava and Kotoriba, with altogether more than 25 000 inhabitants) managed to separately collect more than 50% of waste in 2015. More information: FoE Croatia got Zero Waste in Croatia moving! 7 municipalities adopted Zero Waste Strategy!


Jože Gregorič

Snaga Ljubljana

Snaga is the public company that provides waste management in Ljubljana and in nine suburban municipalities (380,287 residents). Thanks to clearly set goals and persistence in implementation of established measures, Snaga today manages to separately collect 65% of the municipal solid waste and generate only 121 kg of residual waste (waste that is neither recycled nor composted) per capita per year. Ljubljana is committed to halving the amount of residuals and increasing separate collection to 78% by 2025.


Stojan Jakin

Mayor Vrhnika

In a country that until 2001 had no national targets for separate collection of waste, the case of the small municipality of Vrhnika in Slovenia shows how a community can make strides towards a Zero Waste objective in a short time. Without the tradition of recycling boasted by many Western European nations, this area of 18,000 inhabitants has leapfrogged the recycling rates of many better-established programmes around Europe, reaching over 76 % separate collection of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2014 and aiming to reach 82% in the next 5 years.


Luca Menesini

Mayor Capannori

Capannori, a town of 46,700 inhabitants near Lucca in Tuscany, was set to be just another step in the relentless march of waste incineration in Italy. In 1997, primary schoolteacher Rossano Ercolini recognised the potentially damaging effects the planned local incinerator would have on the health of residents and on the surrounding landscape. Ercolini managed to persuade the town council of Capannori to be the first in Europe to sign up to the Zero Waste strategy in 2007, committing to sending zero waste to landfill by 2020. Door-to door collection was introduced in stages across the municipality between 2005 and 2010, starting with small villages, where any mistakes could be identified and corrected early on, then extended to cover the entire municipal area in 2010. By that time, 82% of municipal waste was separated at source, leaving just 18% of residual waste to go to landfill.




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