Towards zero waste in industrial networks - ZeroWIN

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Waste prevention has been assigned the highest priority under European waste management law. However, the initiatives which have been taken so far have not reduced the regular annual increase in total waste arisings across Europe; we are still some way from achieving sustainable use of resources. That’s why the European Union started ZeroWin, a project “Towards Zero Waste in Industrial Networks. PE INTERNATIONAL is a official partner of ZeroWin and will support the methodological part of the ZeroWIN project with its extensive know how in environmental assessment methods and tools. Also PE coordinates work package 4.

Beside this the practical experiences from regularly consultancy with industry and companies makes PE an essential supporter in accompanying some of the case studies including outline definition, case study progress and final assessment and its dissemination.

With a rising level of prosperity in industrialized countries, an increasing number of products and services are being produced and consumed. This development is reflected in the amount of waste generated. According to Eurostat, the EU27 is annually generating about 4 billion tons of agricultural, domestic and industrial wastes.

The problem here is not only the quantity of waste but also the quality, i.e., the intrinsic hazardous nature of some types of waste, especially industrial waste. Industry today in general uses a wider range of materials and produces more complex products than in past decades. There has also been an overall increase in the quantity and variety of products and services and a continuous creation of new products (Commission of the European Community, 2003).

Idea of ZeroWIN

The main idea of ZeroWin is that waste prevention has to be seen from a holistic perspective to make it work efficiently and effectively.

The plan to move society in the direction of sustainability must be based on an understanding of the constitutional principles of the functioning of the system usually referred to as the eco-sphere (e.g. thermodynamics; the biogeochemical cycles; the ecological interdependencies of species; the societal exchange with, and dependency on, the ecosphere). Operational approaches towards e.g. dematerializations and substitutions need to comply with the complementary, non-overlapping, conditions for social and ecological sustainability.

Resulting actions should be fostered through a set of strategic principles defining a future “landing place” on a systems level first, otherwise reaching sustainability is an unlikely outcome of any effort. Each investment should bring practices closer to the overall aim of complying with the system conditions. This requires backcasting methodology, which means that the starting point of the planning process is an envisioned successful future outcome of the planning. Based on this outcome, the strategic paths are designed.

This systematic approach involves close cooperation with other strategic approaches towards sustainability, the utilization of tools such as Life Cycle Assessment in order to evaluate the present situation of material flows, and the implications of various technologies, industrial designs and policy options at a micro, meso and macro-level.

Expected Results
• a decrease of at least 30% of greenhouse gases emissions,
• at least 70% of overall re-use and recycling of waste,
• a reduction of at least 75% of fresh water utilisation.

More Information

More information about the project and partners is available under

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