Zero Waste Provides Alternative Option to Incinerator in Alsace Region of France

Date: 2 Jul 2004 | posted in: Press Release, waste - anti-incineration, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

NEWS RELEASE July 2, 2004

For Further Information: Institute for Local Self Reliance Neil Seldman President(202) 898-1610



Within one month of its introduction in France, the concept and details of Zero Waste were 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.”

In May, the DIL 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 French 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 grassroots organizations from around the world were presented. After the conference, numerous local representatives volunteered their communities 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 Mendoza, a chemist and leading Zero Waste activist from the Philippines, the only nation in the world to ban waste incineration.

According to Natacha Sengler of DIL, “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.” 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 all over the globe.

The concept and practice of Zero Waste has caught the imagination of people throughout the world. An important international dialogue on Zero Waste, hosted by the Global Recycling Council of the California Resource Recovery Association, will take place on August 26-27 in San Francisco. Representatives from Australia, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S. will prepare a research agenda and an action plan for worldwide Zero Waste initiatives. The final document will be circulated and presented at the 2005 Recovery, Recycling, Re-Integration 7th World Congress and Exhibition (R’05) Conference in Beijing, China.


On the DIL Conference–contact Neil Seldman at

On the International Dialogue on Zero Waste (San Francisco)–contact Richard Anthony at and visit

On the Recovery, Recycling, Re-Integration 7th World Congress and Exhibition (R’05) Conference in China–contact Marianne Walther at and visit



The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a nonprofit research and educational organization that provides technical assistance to city and state government, citizen organizations, and industry to promote sustainable economic development. For more information on ILSR, its programs, and its publications, contact ILSR in Washington, DC, (202) 898-1610, or visit its world wide web page at, email:



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