Slovenia’s Transition To No Waste

The Guardian informs that Ljubljana is the first European capital to commit to going zero-waste. But fifteen years ago, all of its waste went to landfill.

In 2002 Slovenia started with separate collection of paper, glass and packaging in roadside container stands. Four years later, the city began collecting biodegradable waste door to door. It is noteworthy that separate collection of biowaste will become mandatory across Europe by 2023, however Ljubljana was almost two decades ahead of the rest of Europe. In 2013, every doorstep in the city received bins for packaging and paper waste.

In 2008, the city recycled only 29.3% of its waste, but today that figure is 68%, and its landfill receives almost 80% less rubbish, putting it at the top of the recycling leaderboard of EU capitals.

The development of the most modern plant in Europe for treating biological waste has been a major step. The Regional Centre for Waste Management (RCERO) opened in 2015 and today services almost a quarter of all Slovenia. It uses natural gas to produce its own heat and electricity, processes 95% of residual waste into recyclable materials and solid fuel, and sends less than 5% to landfill. It even turns biowaste into high-quality gardening compost.

Stuff that isn’t broken gets reused: items are checked, cleaned and then sold at low prices from the facility. And there is a weekly workshop which teaches citizens how to fix broken things. Zero-waste stores are an emerging trend in Ljubljana.

The city centre is clean despite of abundant tourism. Waste collectors roam on foot, and special vehicles sweep the streets using rainwater collected from the rooftops and biodegradable detergent. Almost every corner has separate waste bins for paper, packaging and residual rubbish.

By 2025, at least 75% of Slovenia’s rubbish is planned to be recycled.

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