This is particularly noteworthy, not only for being the first in Germany, but for being the first across Europe to make the transition from a Zero Waste Candidate to Certified City after making their initial commitment in just early 2021.
The Zero Waste Cities Certification is a European certification standard that was created by Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), evolving from our existing Zero Waste Cities programme, but run by our sister organisation Mission Zero Academy (MiZA).
The goal of the Certification is to accelerate the transition to zero waste and the implementation of the circular economy in European towns and cities.
From February 6 to 8, the audit was led by Jaka Kranjc, from our member organisation Ekologi brez meja (Slovenia), with representatives of Zero Waste Europe and Zero Waste Germany also there in support of the process.
The state capital Kiel, represented by the Zero Waste team of the Environmental Protection Department at the city of Kiel and the municipal waste management company (ABK), compiled a comprehensive catalogue of evidence to meet the requirements in the areas of “foundations”, “implementation & impact” and “communication & education”.
The auditors compared the evidence submitted for certification with MiZA’s requirement criteria, many of them mandatory. These include, for example, the formulation and setting of targets and measures to increase separate collection and waste prevention, but also regular analyses of residual waste.
In addition, Kiel was able to gain further points in optional criteria, such as through diverse activities at Kiel’s schools or the first zero waste household challenge.
The fulfilment of mandatory and voluntary criteria results in an overall score that places a city in a five-star system. The result of Kiel is solid, but also leaves room for improvement. Thus, a good two years after the start of the implementation of the concept, the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein achieved its first title as a Zero Waste City with a star – in the further process, more stars can be added.
Mayor Ulf Kämpfer emphasised: “Kiel has been a climate protection city for many years and is setting the pace in terms of mobility change and sustainability. Our goal is climate neutrality as quickly as possible. As a city by the sea, the zero waste idea is particularly important to us because if plastic or oil ends up in the oceans anywhere in the world, it affects us too. I am therefore pleased that we set out early on to become a Zero Waste City. The certification as the first German city is a strong confirmation – but also an incentive to continue and become even better.”
“We are proud to be the first German city to have had the opportunity to achieve Zero Waste City certification with the Zero Waste Europe network,” said Doris Grondke, city advisor and head of the Department for Urban Development, Building and the Environment of the state capital Kiel. “Of course, we are also happy to reach the first step. Nevertheless, we won’t rest on our laurels. It is rather an additional motivation for the implementation of the Zero Waste strategy here in Kiel. As a pioneer, we want to continue to set a good example and inspire more municipalities to enhance the transformation to a circular economy at the local level.”
Not only in Germany but also on a European level, Kiel is one of the first cities to receive the new certification as a Zero Waste City. Kiel’s certification is impressive as it only made its zero waste commitment formally in 2021, so has reached the 1 star threshold within just two years of hard work by city officials.
The new title not only helps draw more attention to the issues of waste prevention and resource conservation, but the certification standard makes it possible to verify the commitments of municipalities to Zero Waste and to record successes in the implementation of measures and the achievement of goals. After all, Kiel can only retain the title of Zero Waste City if improvement can be seen at the next audit in three years.
Jack McQuibban, Head of Local Zero Waste Implementation at Zero Waste Europe, emphasises “the importance of zero waste as a crucial strategy for municipalities who wish to prevent waste, go above and beyond what is required by EU and national regulations, save costs, and reduce their climate impacts – all whilst meaningfully engaging the community with specific measures.”
He is grateful for the support shown by Kiel to become the first city to go from candidate to certified status, once again showing the city’s credentials as a pioneer of sustainability, and looks forward to working with stakeholders on their journey.
The city of Kiel cannot put its feet up, but the newly acquired title certainly gives a boost of motivation.
The concept with a total of 107 measures will continue to be actively implemented in the coming years. The first re-certification by the Mission Zero Academy is due in 2026 – perhaps Kiel will then achieve its second or third star, provided that the amount of waste is further reduced or the separate collection rate has increased.
More information on the Zero Waste project in Kiel is available at kiel.de/zerowaste