The increase in the amount of solid waste production as a result of an increase in urbanisation is one of the major challenges faced by the modern world. Eco-innovative concepts and the use of sustainability criteria in supply chains have to be applied, waste has to be reduced to a minimum and the remnants are to be treated as a new resource. In order to achieve large-scale upcycling as an alternative to generating waste, all stakeholders, be it SMEs, industry, professional associations, and even everyday citizens need to join forces. The Zero Waste approach is the best way to proceed in that direction. Combining activities of the different players, promoting sustainable practices as well as giving support to the innovation competences of firms helps achieve such an ambitious goal as a zero waste global economy.
In 2002, as a side activity to a Resource Conference, a Zero Waste coalition for the UK was formed. This meeting was to the first in the Zero Waste Dialogue series, the 9th of which took place in 2014. The meeting also started the process leading to the formation of the Zero Waste International Alliance, ZWIA. During the third Zero Waste Dialogue event in 2004 an agreement was reached that ZWIA should create an international planning board and a web site. . Its mission statement reads “working toward a world without waste through public education and practical application of Zero Waste principles”. ZWIA facilitates networking, providing consultancy and sharing expertise. The network invites new members, individuals, NGOs, or businesses who agree to the mission statement and charter principles.
ZWIA seeks to protect the environment by providing support to companies to become more efficient. The network has been established world-wide for promoting positive alternatives to landfill and incineration, raising awareness for the benefits of a transition to a circular economy. Using its charter principles as performance standards – local sourcing, sustainable consumption, eco-manufacturing, resource conservation, international networking – employment and business opportunities can be combined with global sustainability. Case studies are published for benchmarking best practice examples allowing policy makers to introduce new regulation and standards or to inspire new innovations.
Since its concept’s deployment it has been deployed on almost every continent, the maturity of the network is estimated to be 8 on the generic maturity scale GML. In addition to its mission of providing a forum for promoting the Zero Waste Concept, ZWIA helps to reduce the carbon footprint associated with inefficient consumption and disposal patterns by promoting advanced mechanisms of waste reduction. The basic documents, Zero Waste Definition, Business Principles, Community Principles, and the Zero Waste Hierarchy are living documents, open for new eco-innovation stimuli. ZWIA works at shifting towards a sustainable society on a global scale.