15 Feb 2023

Hernani becomes the first municipality with a Zero Waste Certification in the Basque Country

Brussels, 15th of February 2023

After its official commitment to become Zero Waste in December 2022, Hernani becomes the first Zero Waste Certified Municipality in the Basque Country. And this with an accreditation of 3 stars out of 5 possible. On December 20, the City Council fully approved a declaration of interest to participate in the European program and commit to carry out an external audit.

The Zero Waste Cities Certification is a European certification standard evaluated by third parties. It is created by Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), and run by its sister organization Mission Zero Academy (MiZA). The certification’s goal is to accelerate the transition to zero waste and the implementation of the circular economy in European towns and cities, at the local level.

This new certification system values ​​the efforts of the Consistory, local businesses, and citizens after so many years of joint work committed to minimizing the generation of waste. Being able to play in the same league as municipalities in northern Europe is really gratifying.

Xabier Lertxundi Asteasuizarra, Mayor of Hernani

I congratulate the municipality of Hernani for being one of the first to achieve this in the Basque Country. We hope that this interest in doing things well will grow because it only brings benefits for administrations, for citizens, and for the companies that want to advance in zero waste and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Joan Marc Simon, Director and founder of Zero Waste Europe – advised entities such as Zero Zabor for many years

Mentors: Rezero and Amigos de la Tierra

Rezero, a non-profit foundation that works to promote waste prevention and responsible consumption, has supported the Hernani City Council to highlight the path towards zero waste that was carried out by the public administration, social entities, and companies in Hernani. The environmental entity accompanied the municipality in the identification and collection of evidence of the initiatives implemented in recent years. This includes:

  • The separate door-to-door collection of waste
  • The promotion of decentralized composting (domestic and community)
  • The payment for the building and use of large generators.

“Zero Waste Certification is very useful for those municipalities that want to face the climate emergency, it is a great tool both for those who are at the beginning of the road towards zero waste as for those already experienced as is the case of Hernani and other municipalities in the Basque Country.

Rosa García, Director of Rezero

On the other hand, Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth), an environmental organization that defends and promotes zero waste for many years, has been the audit organization. Hernani has been promoting initiatives and actions aimed at zero waste for more than 10 years. A relevant piece of information from Hernani is the low residual generation per capita, of 62.99 kg/inhab/year registered in 2020, when the average per capita in the Basque Country is 251.81 kg/inhab/year. In short, the generation of the residual fraction per capita in Hernani is 75% lower than the average for the Basque Country.

How to get certified

The Zero Waste Cities Certification consists of 5 steps:

  1. The municipality expresses their interest in becoming Zero Waste
  2. The commitment to be Zero Waste – candidacy phase
  3. The implementation of this system
  4. Becoming certified
  5. Evaluating the performance for annual improvements

Expert entities in the fields of waste and resource management support and advice cities during the certification process. The evaluation for certification is developed around a scoring system, which includes mandatory criteria and optional scoring criteria. You can score the latter depending on the ambition and impact of each implemented policy. The sum of the points defines the level of certification of the municipality and its subsequent number of ‘stars’.

Subsequent to Certification, municipalities must monitor their activity and make annual improvements to enhance the results achieved. Every 3 years they are subject to new audits to confirm their Certification status. They have the opportunity to level up, reaching a maximum of 5 stars.

Hernani joins 11 other Zero Waste Certified Cities in Europe

Hernani joins other towns in Spain such as El Boalo-Cerceda-Mataelpino (Madrid) and Torrelles de Llobregat (Catalonia). Next to that, they accompany a couple of European cities such as Bled and Gorje (both in Slovenia), or Capannori (Italy), to be one of the first municipalities in becoming certified with this new program.

These towns are leading the way. It is exciting to see how these initiatives grow and develop with citizen participation and political will, facing external difficulties with imagination and conviction. We encourage other towns and cities to join this change, an essential transformation that will bear fruit in the short and medium term.”

Marian Lorenzo, in charge of natural resources and waste at Amigos de la Tierra in the Community of Madrid

It is essential to look back and see everything that has been done so far, compiling all the work and material produced. Along with this, we are laying the foundations to organize the improvements that we can make starting today.

Jon Kortajarena, technician from the public collection company Garbitania

Hernani has shown leadership in zero waste for several years already with impressive results. It is great to see them renew their commitment to zero waste and get certified to verify their progress and the impacts of their policies. Having an example in the Basque country will surely inspire other municipalities to take the leap soon.

Kaisa Karjalainen, Coordinator of the Mission Zero Academy

Do you want to know more about the Certification of Zero Waste Cities and Towns? Discover more details about it here.

Press contacts:
Teresa Rodríguez Pierrard, Press Officer for Amigos de la Tierra: prensa@tierra.es  Tel: +34 680 936 327
Anna Peña, Head of Communication at Rezero: comunicacio@rezero.cat Tel: +34 651 058 988
Berta Corredor, ZWE Press Officer: berta@zerowasteeurope.eu  Tel: +32 471 965 593

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