29.03.2024: The United Nations has officially endorsed March 30th as International Zero Waste Day, marking a significant milestone in the global effort towards sustainable development. With the aim of promoting waste prevention and reduction to foster sustainable consumption and production practices, this day serves as a wakeup call for individuals, communities, and organizations worldwide to unite in the fight against waste.

In its second annual celebration, International Zero Waste Day brings together EU Member States, United Nations agencies, civil society groups, the private sector, academia, youth, and other stakeholders to participate in activities aimed at raising awareness of zero-waste initiatives at various levels – national, subnational, regional, and local.

In addition to the social media campaign, the NGO Zero Waste Montenegro marked this day by organizing a joint action at the University of Montenegro involving two university units: the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Podgorica and the Maritime Faculty in Kotor. A waste separation action and workshop on the topic of zero waste and circular economy were organized at the American Corner in Podgorica on March 29. Young people had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the basic trends in this field and ways to reduce waste and environmental pollution by introducing small changes in their daily habits at this workshop.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), humanity generates between 2.1 billion and 2.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with only 61–62% managed in controlled facilities. Shockingly, 2.7 billion people lack access to the service of solid waste collection, highlighting the urgency of addressing waste management on a global scale.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, emphasizes the significance of zero waste, stating, “Zero waste makes sense at every level. Keeping materials in the economy and strengthening waste management will lead to enormous financial savings. Preventing greenhouse gas emissions. Avoiding damage to nature, which sustains us. And reducing the health impacts that lead to fatalities. On International Zero Waste Day, let’s remember: nature doesn’t create waste, nor should we.”

Jack McQuibban, Head of Local Zero Waste Implementation at Zero Waste Europe, underscores the importance of individual actions, stating, “The environmental challenges we face are huge and systemic. Yet when it comes to zero waste, there are small actions that we can all begin to adopt in our everyday lives which can make a big difference. What inspires me this IZWD is seeing the hundreds of communities in Europe leading the way in showcasing what it truly means to be a zero waste city – with citizen centered policies being introduced to transition towards systems that recognise the true value of resources and materials.”

Vanja Cicmil, Operations & Programme Manager at Zero Waste Montenegro, envisions a world where wasting resources is a relic of the past. “We envision a future where the world is in global harmony, where no one is left behind, and where we all together nurture our common home. I hope we will witness waste as a thing of the past, the flourishing of innovative solutions, with municipalities adopting the best environmental practices, and the business sector advocating for sustainability, with communities at the heart of the zero waste revolution.

As we commemorate International Zero Waste Day, let us renew our commitment to building a sustainable future for generations to come. Together, we can make a difference in nurturing our shared home and creating a world where no one is left behind.

For more information and to get involved, visit UNEP and Zero Waste Europe.