Greens have taken advice from New Zealand in their bid for Edinburgh to become Scotland’s first zero waste city.

Zero waste is the goal of reducing waste as much as possible by minimising the production of unnecessary materials, reusing materials where possible and recycling those materials that cannot be reused.

New Zealand Greens are encouraging their Edinburgh counterparts to help the city council implement a zero waste policy, post May 3. [1, 2]

New Zealand Green MP, Nandor Tanczos, said: “I wish Edinburgh luck in leading the field on waste minimisation in Scotland.

“It’s all about a change of perspective. Instead of seeing waste as an inevitable by-product of our activities, we need to design it out of the system – either by changing the way we produce and consume things, or by finding beneficial uses for any ‘waste’ produced.

“We strongly advocate extended producer responsibility as see this as being key to change. Only when producers have to take financial responsibility for the waste associated with the production and use of their products and services will they be motivated enough to design waste out.”

Zero waste is nothing new in New Zealand. Many of New Zealand’s councils have already adopted the goal of zero waste, and there is a Bill on zero waste before the New Zealand Parliament. One district council, Opotiki, has diverted 90 per cent of its waste from landfill.

Steve Burgess, standing for the Greens in Edinburgh’s Southside/Newington ward said: “Most of Edinburgh’s waste is dumped in landfill sites. But this is a needless waste of useful materials and contributes to pollution including climate change.

“Edinburgh has been making progress on recycling but this will be swamped by the sheer volume of the waste that can’t be recycled unless the Council can get to grips with how waste is actually produced in the first place. [3]

“We’ve been talking to our sister party in New Zealand who are at the forefront of the zero waste approach. They’ve passed on useful experience and suggestions which we want to bring to the council after the elections on May 3.” [4]

Jeni Mackay, a director of Zero Waste Alliance UK, [5] a campaigning and advisory organisation, said: “Local councils need to take the initiative on zero waste and force manufacturers to take responsibility for the unsustainability of some of their packaging and products, rather than passing the problem on to their customers and to local authorities. It is possible – Doncaster, Bath and Somerset have a zero waste strategy and we’d be delighted to help Edinburgh implement such a policy.”


1. The New Zealand Greens’ Waste-Free Policy is based on the following principles:

* Full social and environmental costs should be taken into account when making decisions about the creation, management and disposal of waste.
* Production and consumption must reflect a cyclical approach, as is seen in natural ecosystems, in order to reduce the rate at which we use energy and resources.
* Manufactured products should be durable, with components that can be reused or recycled, and should be easy to repair, upgrade or modify.
* People need both accurate information and empowering education to participate effectively in creating a Waste Free environment.
* Greater use of appropriate technologies and ongoing innovation are necessary to move from a wasteful society to a creative sustainable society that does more with less for longer.
* Government, citizens and business must work together and show individual leadership and responsibility in implementing the waste reduction hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle.

2. Greens are standing in all 17 wards in the City of Edinburgh Council election and expect that at least four councillors will be elected.

3. Waste growth for Edinburgh is currently approximately 3 per cent per annum.

4. Steve Burgess is available for interview. A picture of him is attached.

5. See

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, contact Jill Boulton on 0131 622 0318 or 07919 210 126.