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International Zero Waste Day: Shifting from waste to a circular economy

Nairobi, March 30, 2023 – The impact of waste on human health, the economy and the environment is increasingly serious. To address this challenge, the world today commemorates the first International Zero Waste Day, encouraging everyone to prevent or minimize the generation of waste and advocating for society to move towards a circular economy.

“The waste crisis is undermining the planet’s ability to sustain life.” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message. “Every year, waste costs the global economy billions of dollars. If nature is treated as garbage This is tantamount to digging your own grave. Now is the time to reflect on the consequences of waste on our planet and find solutions to address this top threat.”

International Zero Waste Day is supported by the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Human Settlements Program. The International Day calls on all stakeholders including governments, civil society, businesses, academia, communities, women and youth to engage in raising awareness about zero waste initiatives.

Every year, more than 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste are generated globally, 45% of which is not properly treated. Without urgent action, this figure will rise to nearly 4 billion tons by 2050. Waste comes in all shapes and sizes and includes plastics, debris from mining and construction sites, electronics and food. Waste disproportionately affects the poor, with up to 4 billion people lacking access to controlled waste disposal facilities.

International Zero Waste Day aims to draw global attention to the diverse impacts of waste and encourage action at all levels to reduce pollution and waste.

“Waste management is critical to solving the housing, urban sanitation and climate crises. It is at the heart of improving people’s living standards,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.

In a resolution on International Zero Waste Day, the UN General Assembly highlighted the potential of zero waste initiatives and called on all stakeholders to participate in “events aimed at raising awareness of zero waste initiatives and their contribution to achieving sustainable development.”

Promoting zero-waste initiatives helps advance the goals of the sustainable development agenda, including building sustainable cities and human settlements (SDG 11) and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12) ).

“We need to act now. We have the innovative technologies, scientific knowledge and indigenous knowledge to find solutions to the waste crisis,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

She added: “The first-ever International Zero Waste Day provides a real opportunity to build on initiatives at local, regional and national levels to promote environmentally friendly waste management and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. “

Turkey, which proposed the resolution along with 105 other countries, is one of the leaders in the zero-waste movement. In 2017, Turkey launched a zero-waste project, led by First Lady Emina Erdogan. In 2022, Turkey’s first lady and the United Nations Secretary-General signed a goodwill document aimed at promoting the country’s zero-waste project globally.

“Five years ago, we launched the Zero Waste Project to take action in response to nature’s cry for help,” said Emina Erdogan. “Over the years, the zero waste movement has grown, attracting more and more people. The participation of , cities and regions has gradually become a global movement that transcends national boundaries. I sincerely believe that this day will open a new era, our common home, and this world will usher in a better tomorrow.”

To celebrate International Zero Waste Day, businesses, governments, non-profit organizations and others hold various activities around the world, including community information sessions, e-waste and food collection events, fashion exhibitions, photography exhibitions and conferences.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly will convene a high-level meeting in New York to provide member states with a platform to share experiences and success stories in developing and implementing solutions and technologies for solid waste management.

UNEP, including through its One Planet Network, will work with the United Nations Human Settlements Program to organize events in the lead-up to International Zero Waste Day on 30 March each year to publicize, continue to build support and convene action and emphasize the importance of zero waste.

About International Zero Waste Day

International Zero Waste Day, held for the first time on March 30, 2023, aims to raise awareness of the importance of zero waste, responsible consumption and production practices, and urban waste management to promote sustainable development. This international day calls on us to reflect on our practices and embrace a circular economy – reducing resource use and environmental emissions at all stages of a product’s life cycle – as key to combating the triple planetary crises of climate change, natural environment loss and pollution — and put the planet and humanity on a path to health and prosperity.

About the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

The United Nations Environment Program is a leading force in the global environment field. UNEP provides leadership and encourages partnerships in protecting the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling countries and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising the interests of future generations.

About the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat)

The United Nations Human Settlements Program is the United Nations agency responsible for sustainable urbanization. UN-Habitat works in more than 90 countries to support policymakers and communities in creating socially and environmentally sustainable cities and towns. UN-Habitat promotes transformational urban change through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action.