Solid Waste & Recycling


Zero waste defeats incinerator initiative in France

Within one month of its introduction in France, the concept and details of Zero Waste was selected as a cost effect...

Within one month of its introduction in France, the concept and details of Zero Waste was selected as a cost effective and environmentally sound solid waste management alternative to disposal in incinerators and landfills. The Haut-Rhin Department in the Alsace Region on the German border rejected an incinerator in favor of a comprehensive recycling and composting solution. The region has a tradition of strong support for environmental concerns. The decision came after a two-hour meeting of over 50 mayors and local decision-makers with staff of the Decentralisation and Initiatives Locales (DIL), a non-profit policy and technical assistance organization.

“The department is the first locality in the country to become a Zero Waste pilot program,” stated Didier Toque of (DIL) “We anticipate much more interest in this approach throughout the country.”

The meeting in Haut-Rhin was the result of long term citizen agitation by local community and environmental organizations.

“Even with our differences, we now are all looking in the same direction”, one participant commented. “The global implications of Zero Waste shifted the discussion from focusing on narrow technical problems of incineration.”

Another participant said, "It has been a long time since we had a peaceful debate on the subject. Progress is being made.”

The DIL, in May, coordinated the Zero Waste: Utopia or Reality Conference at the National Legislature in which an international delegation of Zero Waste practitioners met with over 200 national and local officials. Zero Waste is defined as waste reduction, clean production maximum recovery and use of materials for local economic development. Practical applications by government, private industry and grass roots organizations from around the world were presented. After the conference numerous local representatives volunteered as Zero Waste demonstration sites. National decision makers agreed that exploration of new approaches is timely.

“The Conference opened minds to new ideas.” stated Sonia Mendosa, a chemist and leading Zero Waste activist from the Philippines, the only nation in the world to ban waste incineration.

“We now have a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate how France can meet stringent European solid waste disposal standards with Zero Waste implementations; and meet economic growth targets,” according to Natacha Sengler of DIL. The organization is now coordinating technical assistance teams to assist local jurisdictions, including Paris, in implementation of programs that have worked in cities and rural areas throughout the world.

The concept and practice of Zero Waste has caught the imagination of people throughout the world. An important international dialogue on Zero Waste will take place in San Francisco, CA on August 26-27, hosted by the Global Recycling Council of the California Resource Recovery Association. Representatives from Australia, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, the UK and the US will prepare a research agenda and action plan for world-wide Zero Waste initiatives. The final document will be circulated and presented at the REUR*05 Conference in Beijing China in 2005.


On the DIL Conference contact Neil Seldman

On the International Dialogue on Zero Waste, San Francisco contact

Richard Anthony

On the REUR*05 Conference in China contact Marianne Walther

Neil Seldman, President
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
927 15th St., NW – 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-898-1610 ext. 210
Fax: 202-898-1612

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