Created by Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), and run by its sister organization Mission Zero Academy (MiZA), the Zero Waste Cities Certification is a European certification standard evaluated by third parties. Its goal is to accelerate the transition to zero waste and the implementation of the circular economy in European towns and cities, at the local level.
From February 6 to 8, the auditor Jaka Kranjc of Ekologi brez meja (Slovenia) and several representatives of ZWE and Zero Waste Germany were guests in Kiel. The state capital Kiel, represented by the Zero Waste team of the Environmental Protection Department and the municipal waste management company ABK, compiled a comprehensive catalogue of evidence to meet the requirements in the areas of “foundations”, “implementation & impact” and “communication & education”.
The auditors compared the evidence submitted for certification with MiZA’s requirement criteria, many of them mandatory. These include, for example, the formulation and setting of targets and measures to increase separate collection and waste prevention, but also regular analyses of residual waste. In addition, Kiel was able to gain further points in optional criteria, such as through diverse activities at Kiel’s schools or the first zero waste household challenge.
The fulfilment of mandatory and voluntary criteria results in an overall score that places a city in a five-star system. The result of Kiel is solid, but also leaves room for improvement. Thus, a good two years after the start of the implementation of the concept, the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein achieved its first title as a Zero Waste City with a star – in the further process, more stars can be added.
Mayor Ulf Kämpfer emphasized: “Kiel has been a climate protection city for many years and is setting the pace in terms of mobility change and sustainability. Our goal is climate neutrality as quickly as possible. As a city by the sea, the zero waste idea is particularly important to us because if plastic or oil ends up in the oceans anywhere in the world, it affects us too. The certification as the first German city is a strong confirmation – but also an incentive to continue and become even better.”
“We are proud to be the first German city to have had the opportunity to achieve Zero Waste City certification with the Zero Waste Europe network,” said Doris Grondke, city advisor and head of the Department for Urban Development, Building and the Environment of the state capital Kiel. “Of course, we are also happy to reach the first step. Nevertheless, we won’t rest on our laurels. It is rather an additional motivation for the implementation of the Zero Waste strategy here in Kiel. As a pioneer, we want to continue to set a good example and inspire more municipalities to enhance the transformation to a circular economy at the local level.”
Although more than 450 municipalities in Europe have already joined the Zero Waste Europe network, Kiel has now become the first city ever to complete the full certification process, including the prior designation as a candidate city.
Jack McQuibban, Head of Local Zero Waste Implementation at Zero Waste Europe, emphasized: “the importance of zero waste as a crucial strategy for municipalities who wish to prevent waste, go above and beyond what is required by EU and national regulations, save costs, and reduce their climate impacts – all whilst meaningfully engaging the community with specific measures.”
Kiel can only retain the title of Zero Waste City if improvement can be seen at the next audit in three years. A total of 107 measures will continue to be actively implemented in the coming years. The first re-certification by the Mission Zero Academy is due in 2026 – perhaps Kiel will then achieve its second star, provided that the amount of waste is further reduced or the separate collection rate has increased.