Zero Waste & Circular Economy
Moving to a Circular Economy is seen by an increasing number of environmentalists, economists and politicans as a key component of sustainable living and tackling climate change. It's becoming mainstream terminology, but the concept is not new: it's been around for many years, known as Zero Waste.
In 2000 – 2002 Greenpeace UK launched a Zero Waste campaign aimed at preventing the building of many new waste incinerators around the UK. Incineration is incompatible with a Circular Economy. In February 2002 Greenpeace helped to organise and run a Zero Waste Conference at the University of Sussex near Brighton with expert speakers from around the world. Linked to this page you will find much of the campaign documentation from that period, plus video footage of direct action by Greenpeace to shut down the UK's most polluting incinerators at that time.
From 2002 onwards, campaigning was for a time in the hands of local community campaign groups, linked by the Zero Waste Alliance UK and Zero Waste Chartists, with further Parliamentary lobbies and conferences ably and energetically organised by Paula Whitney of Essex Friends of the Earth. Latterly Friends of the Earth (England & Wales) became deeply involved in the campaign against waste incineration, commissioning a series of authoritative studies on the impact of various waste treatment methods, and helping to establish an independent community network organisation: UK Without Incineration Network (www.ukwin.org.uk). In Scotland, the Circular Economy concept is embedded in government policy and its implementation has in large part been delegated to an independent non-profit organisation: Zero Waste Scotland. On the matter of incineration the views of the Scottish government and Zero Waste Scotland do not always coincide.
Greenpeace UK has continued to be supportive, hosting meetings of the Zero Waste Alliance UK and UKWIN at its London office. Internationally, Greenpeace helped to create GAIA – the Global Alliance for Incineration Alternatives (www.no-burn.org) headquartered in the Phillippines, and in France created CNIID – recently rebranded Zero Waste France. GAIA has set up a European arm and office in Brussels called Zero Waste Europe. In turn Zero Waste Europe has established a branch office in Manchester which will help to revitalise the Zero Waste Alliance UK.
Campaigning against waste incineration and promoting Zero Waste solutions are two sides of the same coin. Incinerators cost many millions of Pounds or Euros to build and depend on steady large deliveries of “waste” to survive, stifling efforts to recycle more. Communities and government officers need demonstrable Zero Waste solutions to have the confidence not to fall back on the worst option: incineration.
If you oppose waste incineration and support Zero Waste and a more Circular Economy, whether in the UK or anywhere in the world, you are invited to use these pages to share knowledge and best practice, to signpost your own local campaigns, and search for the profiles of potentially useful collaborators and use the private messaging facility of Greenwire to exchange information.