12 Apr 2022

The municipalities of Bled and Gorje have become the first-ever Zero Waste Certified Cities under the MiZA Zero Waste Cities Certification

After successfully implementing their zero waste plans, the two Slovenian municipalities were audited by a third-party zero waste expert, appointed by Mission Zero Academy (MiZA), that proved the effectiveness of their progress in their zero waste and circular economy implementation and granted them the status of ‘Certified Cities’ with the accreditation of two stars.

The Zero Waste Cities Certification is a robust European third-party assessed certification standard, developed by the non-governmental organisation Mission Zero Academy (MiZA) and powered by Zero Waste Europe, aimed at accelerating the European cities’ zero waste transition and circular economy implementation at the local level.

This ambitious Certification standard, made of 5 steps (expression of interest, commitment – Candidate phase, implementation, certification and yearly improvements) with the ongoing support of experts in the waste and resource management fields, is developed around a scorecard system, which includes mandatory and points-based criteria.

The points-based criteria are scored depending on the ambition and impact of each policy implemented. The combination of these points together defines the municipality’s level of certification and its subsequent number of ‘stars’. A two star certification means that the towns are already performing much better than required by the European targets, they have a wide range of prevention, reuse and recycling measures in place and they engage widely with different stakeholders to also facilitate their transition to zero waste. Both Bled and Gorje show leadership in their waste and resource management and have a clear strategy for improvements which will surely translate to even more stars in the future.

Despite being two municipalities deeply affected by tourism, together with the Slovenian environmental organisation, Ekologi brez meja, Gorje and Bled managed to achieve these impressive results:

  • Implemented over 40 measures to improve resource management and awareness.
  • Increased separate collection rates by 7 – 11% to 75% and 71% respectively.
  • Reduced the amount of residual waste per tourist by 16%, all the while their numbers nearly doubled.

Following their Certifications, the municipalities will carry out yearly improvements to monitor and enhance the outcomes achieved, which will be subjected to new audits every 3 years in order to confirm the Certification status, with the possibility to level up, reaching a maximum of 5 stars.

From left to right: Jamez Resman, Director at Infrastruktura Bled; Jaka Kranjc, Ekologi brez Meja; Kaisa Karjalainen, Coordinator of the Mission Zero Academy; and Marko Košak, Waste Programme Coordinator at Zelena akcija and Auditor at MiZA.

“On behalf of Mission Zero Academy (MiZA), I sincerely congratulate the municipalities of Bled and Gorje for becoming the first European Zero Waste Certified Cities! This is a big tribute to their successful work and constant improvement towards a clean and healthy society. Gorje and Bled are willing to climb even higher up on the ladder they have set. We invite other Slovenian and European municipalities to accept this challenge and follow: this will bring enormous benefits both for the environment and the communities’ quality of life.”, said Marko Košak, Waste Programme Coordinator at Zelena akcija, MiZA’s Auditor.

“The title of Certified Zero Waste City makes us very happy, especially since we are the first in the world. It offers an opportunity for improvement and commitment to an even more circular society in all areas of life. Attaining the certification thus does not represent a target in itself, as zero waste is a journey that never ends. It’s a way of life where with everyday small choices we make steps to change our relationship with the environment and our societies.”, said Jožica Peljhan, coordinator for zero waste at Infrastruktura Bled (waste manager for both municipalities).

“We are proud of Bled and Gorje, who have been striving for greater circularity for seven years already and continue with their pioneering zero waste spirit despite challenging circumstances. Now even more cities across Europe will learn from their example!” ,complemented Žaklina Žnajder, Zero Waste Slovenia Programme Coordinator.

Gorje and Bled’s Certifications represent a big momentum for both its communities and Europe as whole, proving that an European circular transition is not only possible but necessary and that it can start at the local level.

Want to know more about the Zero Waste Cities Certification? Find out more here.

Photo credits: Gorje: Robertn; Bled: Mediaspeed, foto: Vid Rotar

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