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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 that "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 26-27 of August, 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 R’05
Conference in Beijing China in 2005.


On the DIL Conference contact Neil Seldman nseldman@no.address

On the International Dialogue on Zero Waste, San Francisco contact
Richard Anthony ricanthony@no.address

On the R’05 Conference in China contact Marianne Walther

Neil Seldman

Institute for Local Self-Reliance
927 15th St., NW - 4th Flr.
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 898-1610 ext. 210
(202) 898-1612 [fax]

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