Rossella Recupero

Communications Officer at Zero Waste Europe

17 January 2020


17 January 2020 - Zero Waste Europe Academy

Going zero waste…step by step

Rossella Recupero

17 January 2020 - Zero Waste Europe Academy

Going zero waste…step by step

Rossella Recupero

Communications Officer at Zero Waste Europe

Zero Waste France, in collaboration with the University of Colibris, recently published a new project called “MOOC Zero Waste”: a free online programme to guide you on all aspects related to waste prevention and reduction.

The Zero Waste MOOC (1) is designed for people willing to understand more about the challenges related to waste production at the individual and collective level while learning the principles of the zero waste approach in order to kickstart their journey towards zero waste!

Indeed, the MOOC provides individuals with a set of thematic modules created and led by experts who have been working in different areas related to waste in the last decade.

This week, we had the pleasure to interview Valentine Cancel, Project Manager of the MOOC, to learn more about this inspiring programme: 


  • Hi, Valentine, can you briefly introduce yourself: how long have you been in the field and what got you into (zero) waste?

Hello everyone, my name is Valentine Cancel, I’m almost 30 and I currently live near Paris, France. I’ve been working for Zero Waste France for more than a year now. I joined the association after a professional reconversion (I used to produce musical and cultural events).

I realised two years ago that our lifestyle was not sustainable at all and that I personally needed to take action to tackle global pollution and climate change. This started with a personal transition (going vegetarian, adopting a zero waste life through my participation to a Zero Waste Families challenge organised by the city of Paris, travelling locally and reducing as much as possible my carbon emissions, etc…) but quickly, I discovered that I wanted to make this transition professionally as well. I was lucky enough to quickly find this position in one of the best environmental NGOs in France!

  • Tells us more about the MOOC, what is it exactly (structures and available tools)? And what inspired you (and Zero Waste France) to design this project?

The MOOC is aimed for all citizens who would like to reduce their waste production. Often, people don’t know where to start and tend to give up because it seems too complicated: with this very complete tool, we wanted to accompany all people who aspire to live a zero waste life, step by step.

The training is composed of 12 modules. We created different types of tools to help participants: educational videos, practical sheets, challenges and exercises, reports, interviews, etc.

We were inspired by many resources we use frequently (case studies, reports, tools that were created by other environmental NGOs) and by the many activists that we interviewed for the MOOC. My vision was to create a path towards zero waste that would be easily accessible and very rich in content: I created a tool that gathers all the content I would have liked to have when I started my own zero waste transition.

  • What are the main topics addressed in the programme?

2 main parts are used to structure the educational progress:

  1. How to apply the 5Rs to reduce your daily waste? 
  2. How to go further via thematic modules to explore certain aspects of these issues (digital sobriety, food waste, stop plastic consumption plastic, etc.) 

We tried to be as thorough as possible and the idea is also to give tools to participants if they want to propel the process on a collective scale (creating a local zero waste group, how to implement zero waste policies in their area or local district, etc…). The MOOC also wants to convince people that a zero waste life is possible for everyone and that our waste production goes beyond what we can physically grasp as individual consumers; the use of the internet, our nutrition, the objects we choose to buy… these are also crucial aspects of the zero waste approach that we need to take into account. 

  • What is the main target (audience) of the MOOC? 

Everybody! Whether you are a beginner or an expert in the zero waste approach, this training will bring you the key factors needed to understand and act, allowing you to further raise awareness around you too. The MOOC is only available in French for the moment, so unfortunately it is only reserved for a French-speaking audience.

  • What do you identify as the main challenges to actually changing the way we currently deal with waste in France and beyond? And why do you think the MOOC could help us in facing these challenges?

To me, the main challenges we face in France regarding waste reduction are mainly: 

  1. Reintroducing deposit return systems as a general practice (as it is still the case in Alsace and was common in France up until the 70s). The French government had an opportunity to vote for an ambitious law last December but did not take this crucial step.
  2. Composting and sorting bio-waste: this makes up one-third of our waste bins and therefore constitutes a major opportunity to reducing our waste and waste of resources. The French law has made it mandatory to sort or collect organic waste by 2023, but in my opinion, there is an emergency to make solutions available to everyone starting today! It’s a huge waste of valuable resources.
  3. Extending the lifespan and the use of our products, especially by promoting and supporting reuse and repair activities.

The MOOC can certainly help by raising awareness: since we know that every French citizen produces on average 570kgs of waste every year, we can consider that if we chose to a zero waste life, this waste reduction will have huge positive impacts! But it has to be complementary to global policies and a noticeable shift in how private companies currently manufacture most of our products and are destroying the environment and a liveable future for future generations…

  • What reactions have you had from your audience, so far? What kind of impact are you expecting? / or what are the next steps of the project? 

The reactions and feedbacks have been excellent! People often say that the MOOC provides them with a tool they were lacking. More than 30,000 people registered for the MOOC, so I really hope that it will allow them to  implement the zero waste life they learned about during the training. We also tried to make the experience interactive: many groups gathered and met all around France to share tips and their experiences of the MOOC. I hope those people will continue to meet and to fight collectively for a more sustainable territory. In France we also have the municipal elections coming in March 2020 and Zero Waste France is already raising awareness around waste issues among candidates and future mayors. Let’s dream a little: maybe the MOOC created new political engagement among the participants! 

The MOOC Zero Waste is available in French here and for some similar tools in English have a look at our brand new Academy! 

You can find more about Zero Waste France and their work here.



  1. MOOC: Massive Open Online Course


Sign up for the Zero Waste Cities newsletter to be updated on all our upcoming activities


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