Our History

Our network’s track record of success demonstrates the power of grassroots solutions to protect our planet and advance the rights and wellbeing of all communities—especially those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of pollution and exploitation.

2000: The first Waste Not Asia meeting set the stage for decades of collaboration in the region
December 2000 – The first GAIA meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa with organizations from 23 countries
December 2001 – GAIA launches its first global campaign to stop the World Bank from funding incinerators.
December 2002 – GAIA organizes the first Global Day of Action against waste and incineration. Organizations around the world call for an end to incineration.
2002: Bangladesh becomes the first country in the world to ban plastic bags.
2002: new wave of over 100 incinerator proposals prevented across the United States and Canada from 2002 to 2012
2002 – 2003: Incinerator bans are passed in many cities in Argentina.
2005 – Buenos Aires, Argentina, becomes the first city in Latin America to adopt a zero waste strategy.
2005 – Precedent-setting organics landfilling ban in South Korea leads to 90% being recycled or composted.
2007 – Capannori, Italy becomes the first European city to formally adopt a zero waste strategy.
2007 – Brazil wins a case at the WTO defending a ban on the import on used tyres bound to be burnt in cement kilns
2008 – New waste act in South Africa, treats incineration as a last resort and recognizes wastepickers as legitimate workers.
2009: Global Alliance Of Wastepickers/Recyclers And Allies launches international policy work with delegations to UN climate negotiations.
2010: Zero Waste Himalaya was launched as a collective for groups and individuals across Himalayan mountain region.
2014-2015 Launch of several national alliances: Brazil Zero Waste Alliance, Costa Rica Towards Zero Waste Alliance, Chile Zero Waste Alliance.
2015: Zero Waste Municipalities Network is launched in the EU with more than 300 cities (6 million people), including Ljubljana, Slovenia, the first EU capital with a zero waste goal.
2015: Commitment to establishing 10 pilot cities in the Asia Pacific region at UN Our Oceans Conference. The Zero Waste Cities work (2020) is now present in more than 50 cities and communities, benefitting about 47 million people, diverting over 800,000 tons of waste in 2019.
2016: GAIA helps launch the Break Free From Plastics (BFFP) movement, bringing together a coalition pushing for upstream and justice-rooted solutions to the global plastics crisis.
2016: Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia was founded with 9 member organizations, and in 2017 AZWI’s petition to the Indonesia Supreme Court led to the national government revoking Presidential Decree No. 18/2016, which aimed to accelerate WTE development in major cities.
2017: Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance was founded. VZWA has 7 core member-organizations and 25 affiliate organizations spread across the North, South and Central regions.
2018-2019 – Major incinerators close in Detroit, Michigan and Los Angeles County, California, part of a growing trend of incinerators closing in U.S. cities
2019: the European Union formally approved the Single-Use Plastics Directive in July 2019.
2019: 187 countries took a major step forward in curbing the plastic waste crisis by adding plastic to the Basel Convention, bringing greater scrutiny and limits to plastic waste trade.
2019: Zero Waste Alliance Ecuador is launched in Quito.
2020: In the Asia Pacific region, four major cities passed local ordinances banning single-use plastics (SUP) and putting in place ecological solid waste management regulations.