The municipalities of Bled and Gorje are the first in the EU that received zero waste certificates among 462 local authorities that have committed to becoming zero waste. They are located in 11 European countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, UK, and Ukraine.
Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) has initiated the Zero Waste Cities programme and the Zero Waste Cities Certification in order to accelerate the zero waste transition and the implementation of the circular economy in European cities. Certification is conducted by ZWE’s spinoff Mission Zero Academy (MiZA).
After successfully implementing their zero waste plans, the two Slovenian municipalities were audited by a third-party zero waste expert appointed by MiZA. They proved the effectiveness of their progress in their zero waste and circular economy implementation and got the status of Certified Cities with the accreditation of two stars, MiZA said.
Certification proves a town is already performing much better than required by European targets
A two-star certification means the towns are already performing much better than required by the European targets, that they have a wide range of prevention, reuse and recycling measures in place and that they engage widely with different stakeholders to also facilitate their transition to zero waste.
Both Gorje and Bled show leadership in their waste and resource management and have a clear strategy for improvements which will surely translate to even more stars in the future, MiZA said.
Gorje’s separate collection rate is at 75%, and Bled is at 71%
The two municipalities are popular tourist destinations. Together with Slovenian environmental organization Ecologists Without Borders (Ekologi brez meja), they managed to implement over 40 measures to improve resource management and awareness, increase the separate collection rate by 7-11% to 75% and 71%, respectively, and reduce the amount of residual waste per tourist by 16%, while their numbers nearly doubled in the same period.
Bled and Gorje will be subject to new audits every 3 years in order to confirm the certification status, with the possibility to level up, reaching a maximum of 5 stars.
Zero Waste Cities have higher separate collection rates and produce less waste than EU average
According to MiZA, separate collection rates of the 462 municipal authorities range from 7% to 93%. The best-ranking town is Arcade Treviso in Italy.
However, one can see a direct positive impact from these cities and municipalities, as on average they separately collect 67% of municipal solid waste, which is above the EU’s recycling target of 55% for 2025, MiZA said.
In addition, data shows that an average of 438 kg of municipal waste is produced per capita in the listed places, while the the EU average for 2020 is 503 kg.