The term “zero waste” refers to one of the principles that aims to reuse products so that they do not return to nature in the form of waste or rubbish.  The main objective is to minimise environmental impact and promote sustainability by adopting practices that avoid the generation of waste.


This term was coined by Paul Palmer, an environmentalist and sustainability advocate in 1990. Its creator believed in the feasibility of significantly reducing the amount of waste to landfill and promoted the idea of eliminating it.

It was in 2002 that the Zero Waste International Alliance was founded, which established the principles and standards of the movement, helping to define its key objectives and approaches.

The zero waste movement is based on 5 fundamental principles, also known as the 5 Rs:

  1. Refuse what you don’t need, which involves making informed choices when buying products and avoiding products that generate a large volume of waste.
  2. Reduce what is needed, achieved through conscious purchasing, planning of purchases and use of bulk products.
  3. Reuse all types of materials, packaging and wrappings, which means finding new ways to make use of objects.
  4. Recycle everything that cannot be rejected or reduced, ensuring that recycled materials are properly managed and turned into new products rather than wasted.
  5. “Rot”/Decompose. Organic materials such as food waste are separated for composting instead of being discarded.

Some of the measures that have already been implemented following this movement have been, for example, the charging of plastic items in both shops and supermarkets to reduce their use, as they are among the most polluting items.

The zero waste movement has developed over time from the ideas and efforts of various people and movements concerned with environmental sustainability and conservation. By adopting these principles, individuals, communities and businesses can contribute to environmental conservation by reducing their waste footprint and promoting more sustainable practices in their lifestyles and in the production of goods and services.