Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by M.Štojs

Ljubljana shines with Zero Waste

Ljubljana, the 2016 European Green Capital, is the first European capital to be member of the Zero Waste Europe network thanks to investing in a Zero Waste Strategy.

Ljubljana had set itself a bold target. By 2025, the City would separately collect three quarters of all waste. In 2016, as a direct result of Ljubljana’s outstanding zero waste policy and the progress made, Slovenia was selected to host the Zero Waste Europe Annual Conference.

Ljubljana’s Zero Waste Strategy embraces EU waste management best practice by prioritising waste prevention. The overall goal is to reduce the total amount of waste.  In line with best practice, a maximum of waste should be sorted. The waste that is sorted should, where possible, be reused. Any remaining waste should be recycled.

Ljubljana has invested in a serious upgrade of its waste infrastructure bringing underground collection units into the mix and coordinating waste reduction efforts through the brand new Regional Waste Management Centre.  What’s more, the City of Ljubljana has brought its citizens along on the Zero Waste journey through a targeted communication campaign.

Today Ljubljana separately collects more than 60% of the city’s waste, the biggest share of any capital city in Europe. In just ten years the amount of waste collected separately jumped from 16 kg to 145 kg per resident. That’s nine times more waste that is not going to landfill and instead destined for reuse or recycling.  Good for the planet and good for the people of Ljubljana.

Green Capital – Green Citizens

Every year a new city in Europe becomes European Green Capital for demonstrating leadership in environmental improvement and urban sustainability. The city commits to organise events in several of the city districts so that citizens can learn about environmental issues and join in the city’s environmental plans. Such events receive, and then pass on, Ljubljana's  European Green Capital ambassadorial baton.

As part of its responsibilities as European Green capital, Ljubljana has organised public information events to mobilise local clean-up campaigns, provide free biodegradable bags for dog litter, offer a reality-check of sorted rubbish by the city’s environmental inspectors and promote tours to the Centre for Reuse and the Regional Waste Management Centre.

The Regional Waste Management Centre takes visitors on an educational trail to promote upcycling as well as prevention, sorting, reuse and recycling.  Upcycled furniture in the facility’s offices shows citizens the value of creative reuse.

Taking account of the needs of younger citizens, Ljubljana’s Waste Management Service, Snaga, created a special programme for children. Children at kindergartens across the city listen to the story of Dragon Pometaj, a responsible dragon as regards waste! The Waste Management Service reaches parents and others through free SMS reminders about upcoming waste collections and the app, Moji odpadki (My waste).  
The City’s Waste Management Service is also working with local restaurants to reduce food waste, supporting monthly baby clothes’ exchanges and, later this year, will open the country’s first packaging-free shop. Director, Janko Kramžar says: “Sustainable development and sustainable orientation is not an obstacle to industry and retail. Quite the contrary.”

Waste management – easy for the citizens of Ljubljana

Today in the City of Ljubljana, there are more than 50 underground collection units, each containing separate bins for paper, glass, packaging, biological and other waste. Another 40 are planned. Underground collection units mean easier rubbish disposal for young people, the elderly and disabled, tidier streets with less vandalism, less noise from rubbish collection and fewer unpleasant smells.

Waste sorting has become easy for the citizens of Ljubljana, thanks for the underground collection units. And the new Regional Waste Management Centre takes care of the more bulky waste. Citizens can either drop-off or arrange a pick-up. Waste management made easy.

Waste management – clean technology

Ljubljana’s Regional Waste Management Centre is the most modern waste treatment facility in Europe, processing the biodegradable and residual waste of one third of the country’s population. The facility processes 150 thousand tonnes of mixed waste, and 20 thousand tonnes of bio waste each year, creating 30 thousand tonnes of raw, recyclable material, 60 thousand tonnes of fuel and seven thousand tonnes of compost. The electrical energy and heat energy from the biogas produced in the process is reused directly in the facility. At the end of the process, just five per cent  of residual waste ends up in landfill.

Thanks to investing in a Zero Waste Strategy, with large-scale underground collection and eco-efficient technology, Ljubljana is leading urban sustainability, hosting the Zero Waste Europe network and engaging its citizens in active environmentalism.