With its proven ability to divert as much as 85% of all waste, zero waste is an effective climate solution that has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions from traditional industrial-scale waste management systems. Cities today are taking concrete climate action through zero waste programs and policies, which are gaining traction due to their cost effectiveness, public appeal, and overall positive environmental impact.

Through zero waste strategies, we can reduce more emissions than the waste sector produces. This is because zero waste reduces emissions throughout different sectors of the economy—from energy to mining to transport to agriculture. It is a concrete, hands-on strategy for cities and communities to tackle climate change. By returning materials to the economy and organics to the soil, zero waste reduces emissions, creates meaningful jobs, and stimulates local economies.

At GAIA, climate is woven into all of our work. We advocate for strong climate science and policy that ensures real climate solutions and we shed light on the links between economic and ecologic welfare. Our research and policy campaigns demonstrate that job production and climate action go hand in hand.

Fighting false solutions, such as incinerators, “plastic offset credits,” and plastic-to-fuel technologies is essential to reducing emissions and a critical part of our mission. We do this by:

  • Providing technical analyses of the climate impacts of incineration, chemical recycling, plastic-to-fuel and other technologies falsely billed as climate solutions
  • Campaigning against subsidies for polluting industries that divert funds from real climate solutions
  • Campaigning against carbon offset credits, plastic offsets, and other accounting gimmicks that would allow incinerators and the petrochemical industry to increase emissions

As a growing global network, our work includes collaborating with and strengthening other movements such as Break Free From Plastic and waste pickers’ alliances. One of our greatest victories includes building a joint climate justice movement with waste pickers to reorient climate finance away from incineration and keeping incinerators out of the EU Taxonomy — the master list of climate-friendly strategies that the EU will support.

Current Campaigns


If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest GHG emitter in the world. To make matters worse, the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), an organization that recommends where money should go to fight climate change, is considering supporting burning waste in cement kilns instead of financing green building alternatives. Far from fixing the industry’s climate impact, financing cement kiln waste-burning would just replace one fossil-based fuel with another (plastic waste is made of fossil fuels), causing toxic pollution that threatens public health, human rights, and the planet.