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The first European Zero Waste Research Center – Capannori, Italy

by Joan Marc Simon
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The research center is a vital piece of a Zero Waste strategy because it is impossible to slim the waste bin if we don’t know what ends up thrown in it. In order to get to Zero Waste, waste needs to be made very visible so that we can develop actions to prevent waste from ending up there.

The traditional systems of waste management are designed to hide waste. The claim that landfills and incinerators make waste disappear it’s nothing else but a myth. As Professor Paul Connett says: landfills bury the evidence and incinerators burn it (i.e. bury them in the atmosphere and in toxic ashes). If we want to act against waste, we have to make it very visible.

This is why the Zero Waste Research Center was created; to study what is left in the residual fraction of the household and commercial waste. Capannori, like many other italian municipalities where the door-to-door collection systems are applied is above 75% separate collection. Therefore it is time to look into what is left in the remaining 25% in order to advance towards Zero Waste.

The first step is to do a caracterisation of the residual waste; i.e. analyse samples of residual waste to know its configuration. See the next table to know what was found in the residuals:

As we can see 85% of what is found in the residual fraction can be prevented, composted or recycled. 28% of it are plastics, 22% is biodegradable, 16% is clothing and 13% nappies. This means that if the right policies are in place the total household and commercial waste that should be sent to disposal would be less than 5% of the total waste generated!

The ZW Research Center is composed of an operative team with industrial designers charged with the task of proposing changes to the design of badly designed products. These proposals are then sent to the producers responsible for the manufacture of toxic and/or non-recyclable and/or non-biodegradable in order to give them sustainable alternatives.

The Center also has an Scientific Committee composed of waste experts, university professors and other technical people who can provide useful advice.

Albeit its very limited resources the Zero Waste Research Center is setting an example to follow for any municipality who wants to advance towards Zero Waste.

If we want to act against waste, we have to make it very visible.

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There are 6 comments
  1. […] iritsi den aztertu eta konponbide posibleak proposatzeko. Italiako zero zabor sarean dagoen Capannorik daukan zentruaren modukoa behar da. Ulertezina da, hondakinekin daukagun arazoaren tamaina ezagututa, honen inguruan […]

  2. […] that will be presented include the case of the first European municipality to declare Zero Waste, Capannori in Italy, and the experience of the province of Gipuzkoa in the Spanish Basque Country. Also, local […]

  3. […] che saranno presentate includono il caso del primo comune europeo a dichiarare Rifiuti Zero, Capannori, e l’esperienza della provincia di Gipuzkoa nei Paesi Baschi spagnoli. Inoltre saranno […]

  4. I live in the mountains up in the Himalayas, in Sikkim, India. I am a Civil Service Officer with the State Government and currently posted in the Rural Development Department. Since 2011, I have been trying to make a headway in zero waste and have been doing a lot of awareness programmes at schools, village councils and other important fora. Recently we held the 2nd “Zero Waste Himalaya” workshop in my state and as a follow up we wanted to do an EPR exercise with all the non-degradable packaging since our state is a major tourist destination (our population is 6 lakhs and the tourist inflow annually is 7 lakh!) and garbage is unsurmountable, particularly the non-recyclables..such as the multi-layered tetra packs, plastic covers lined with aluminium foil as in the case of Lay’s chipps etc. which is consumed in very BIG volumes. We could not make much headway with the EPR exercise, could you tell us the methodology you adopted for doing the same for your province. And also other inputs since I have given you a brief of our challenges. Thank you.

  5. […] 2010 Capannori set up the first Zero Waste Research Centre in Europe, where waste experts identify what is still being thrown in the grey residual waste bags and come […]

  6. […] Ausgerechnet eine italienisches Kaff tritt den Beweis an, dass die Bürgerinnen und Bürger die Zügel in die Hand nehmen und nachhaltige Veränderungen bewirken können: Capannori in der Toscana ist heute ein Zero Waste Champion und betreibt seit 2010 das europaweit erste Forschungslabor für Zero Waste. […]

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