In Germany, numerous local zero-waste initiatives and groups have emerged in the last five years, which have created dedicated zero waste non-profit associations. Creating an alliance on a national level to strengthen the exchange between the local zero waste associations, as well as with other European countries, was a logical next step to streamline messaging for communities across the country.

On March 29, 2021 Zero Waste Germany was founded with eleven local city members. Led by the state capital of Kiel, a Zero Waste Strategy was passed by a unanimous vote at the city’s municipal council.  The next step for Kiel was to cooperate as a Pilot City to test the new Zero Waste Cities certification. In May 2021, Kiel officially became the first German Zero Waste candidate city, creating a path for other cities in Germany to follow.

The model of Kiel has attracted other municipalities across Germany who now see the benefits and recognise the importance of becoming zero waste. The way Kiel proceeded – establishing its strategy after a first municipal council vote and then committing through a second vote of the municipality to realise the defined measures – is seen as a best practice and replicable approach. Other German cities that have adopted a Zero Waste strategy include Munich, Leipzig, Regensburg and Düsseldorf.

The approach of having all eleven local city members join together as one entity to form Zero Waste Germany allows for the individual associations/communities to have a unified voice at the Zero Waste Europe network level, to streamline common messaging of a Zero Waste lifestyle across Germany beyond the borders of their cities. The local movement can be represented internationally, along streamlined campaign messaging from international and national levels to be adopted locally.

The interest and increasing adoption of the Zero Waste framework across German cities is a success for Zero Waste Germany and the Zero Waste movement across Europe. The development of the certification system, and the creation of the Zero Waste Germany alliance all contribute to the support of this growing movement at the local level.



The European Union (EU) project on Reducing Plastic Waste in Canada