Zero waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning, and with no discharges to land, water or air that threaten the environment or human health.

Definition of Zero Waste as adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (2019)

Zero Waste Hierarchy

Zero Waste Europe created a new hierarchy to change the mindset from waste management to resource management, and ensure that the value of our resources is preserved in the economy for the new generations



Refuse what we don’t need and change the way we produce and consume by redesigning business models, goods and packaging in order to reduce resource-use and waste


Reduce and reuse

Minimise the quantity, toxicity and ecological footprint and any operation by which products or components that are not waste are used again for the same purpose for which they were conceived


Preparation for reuse

Checking, cleaning or repairing operations, by which products or components of products that have become waste are prepared so that they can be re-used without any other pre-processing


Recycling/composting/anaerobic digestion

High quality material recovery from separately collected waste streams


Material and chemical recovery

Technologies to recover materials from mixed waste into new valuable materials in an environmental sound way


Residuals management

What cannot be recovered from mixed waste is biologically stabilised prior to landfilling



Options that don’t allow for material recovery, have high environmental impact and create lock in effects that threaten the transition to Zero Waste: waste to energy incineration, co-incineration, plastic to fuel, landfilling of non-stabilised waste, gasification, pyrolysis, illegal dumping, open burning and littering

Who we are?

Zero Waste Cities is the Zero Waste Europe’s Programme dedicated to help cities and communities transition towards zero waste. It brings together a European platform of knowledge for local stakeholders to implement best practices, as well as a mentoring and recognition programme for municipalities. Zero Waste Cities is run jointly by Zero Waste Europe and its member organisations.

The Programme’s aim is to accelerate the transition towards zero waste at the city level - specifically small and medium-sized municipalities - with the implementation of the latest EU legislation and zero waste strategies based on citizen-centered models, leading to a substantial decrease in waste generation and increase in separate collection and recycling.

Find out more about ZWE


We have trained and verified experts within our broad European network. On this page, you can access key details for these experts, who are ready and willing to support local stakeholders in the implementation of effective zero waste strategies.


Our Projects

The Zero Waste Cities programme is actively engaged in a number of different projects across Europe, where we work with both our members and other partners on a range of initiatives focused at the local level. From co-creating educational resources on zero waste implementation, to capturing the best practice examples of local action, our projects all work towards our vision of helping accelerate the transition towards zero waste at the local level.



Strategies for Zero Waste Cities


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