Munich is one of the two largest cities to join the zero-waste movement, Source: Unsplash

Barcelona and Munich: the largest European cities to get zero waste certification

Barcelona and Munich: the largest European cities to get zero waste certification

Scaling up the effort of waste reduction must eventually go through the continent’s metropolises

Barcelona and Munich have signed up to become zero-waste candidate cities. This was announced by Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), the non-profit driving the initiative on urban waste reduction on the Old Continent.

The two cities stating their commitment to implement the five-step process to achieving zero waste (developed by the Mission Zero Academy), are also the biggest members of the movement in Europe.

The Zero Waste Cities Certification comprises 5 steps: expression of interest; commitment; implementation; certification; and yearly improvements. It is developed around a scorecard system, which includes mandatory and points-based criteria. The combination of these points together defines the municipality's level of certification and its subsequent number of 'stars'.

Barcelona’s pledges

With a population of approximately 1,6 million, Barcelona would become one of the biggest European municipalities implementing a zero waste strategy, with a wide range of waste prevention, reuse and recycling measures in place. The city has created a dedicated strategy for improvements, engaging widely both with the local community and different stakeholders to facilitate the zero waste transition.

Following this commitment, Barcelona will start implementing its zero-waste strategy. Some of the objectives for the coming years are: 

  • Working towards reducing municipal solid waste. The city is including a zero waste philosophy around all the waste management;
  • A 67% separate waste collection rate by 2027, while the European average is about 48%;
  • 427 kg of waste generation per capita per year by 2027.

Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona said: "Big cities are in debt with their territory, we produce a huge amount of waste and it's about time we become responsible for it. Barcelona's commitment to the Zero Waste strategy shows that we do care and that we do act: we aim to be a neutral city and to inspire many others".

Munich’s ambitions

Munich, the third most populous city in Germany by the number of inhabitants, (1.6 million), is another important European municipality that has signed for the zero waste commitment. In July, its City Council adopted a concept in which around 100 city-wide measures are defined to reduce Munich's waste volume and conserve resources.

This concept is now starting to be implemented by the waste management company AWM. To align with the required criteria of becoming a Zero Waste Candidate City, the City of Munich commits to the following:

  • Waste from households per capita per year in the state capital Munich will be reduced by 15 % to 310 kg / (E*a) by 2035;
  • The amount of residual waste will be reduced by 35% to 127 kg/capita by 2035. In the long term, the City of Munich will achieve an average residual waste volume of less than 100 kg per capita per year;
  • In the long-term, Munich is working towards the goal of reducing municipal solid waste (MSW) in landfills and waste incineration to a waste-management feasible minimum.

Dieter Reiter, Mayor of Munich said: "Munich is continuing on the path towards zero waste, which I initiated at the end of 2019. I believe it is very important that we, the City of Munich, benefit from others' experiences as part of a European zero waste network, but also inspire other cities. By signing the Zero Waste Commitment today, we are underscoring our commitment to becoming a city that produces as little waste as possible and conserves resources. Munich is taking on a pioneering role – against wasting resources and for the environment."



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