Kiel on its way to become a Zero.Waste.City

Kiel on its way to become a Zero.Waste.City

31 May 2021
Kiel Zero-Waste Scenario
2 November 2021

In September 2018 the Kiel council decided that Kiel shall become a Zero.Waste.City. In order to face the wastage of resources and the increasing resource depletion, Kiel wants to continuously reduce the amount of waste in every sector of the city. With its plan to become a Zero.Waste.City, the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein is intensifying its existing environmental and climate protection activities. The reduction of waste does not only contribute to decreasing CO2-emissions and thus helps to counteract climate change, but is also in line with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, especially No. 12, “sustainable consume and production”, to which Kiel has committed itself.

In cooperation with the Wuppertal Institute and supported by the Zero Waste Kiel Association, the city of Kiel developed a 270 pages long term zero waste-strategy in a large participatory process. Beneath two main targets for the whole city, the strategy includes 107 measures and 18 sector-specific goals for waste prevention in the sectors educational institutions, households, industry, retail and events as well as public administration and waste management. The two main targets are:

  1. Reducing the total amount of waste per capita per year in Kiel by an average of 15 % by 2035.
  2. Halving the residual waste by 2035 and reducing it to less than 50 kg per capita per year in the long term.

One of the most important steps was the participation of more than 450 Kiel residents in five workshops and one kick-off event. Together, the Kiel residents identified more than 650 ideas for potential zero waste measures. Supplemented by an exploration of best practices and a status quo analysis, the final list of more than 100 prioritized measures was defined after a potential analysis.

Based on the potential analysis, a zero waste-scenario was developed to show the possible impact of the prioritized measures. It shows that the residual waste in Kiel can decrease by around 50 % until 2035 and even 70 % by 2050 in comparison to the business-as-usual-scenario, in which no further waste prevention measures would be undertaken. The results also illustrate a saving potential of around 10.000 tons of CO2 in 2035 and up to 15.000 tons CO2 in 2050 in comparison to 2017.

The strategy was completed in August 2020 and has been unanimously adopted by the Kiel council in November 2020. Thus, an important milestone was reached and the implementation of the developed measures officially started in the end of 2020. The measures include for example, the establishment of Zero Waste Schools, a ban on single-use packaging in the city administration or a Zero Waste Standard for events. Similar to the strategy development, both the participation of the Kiel residents and raising awareness for the topic will be a key factor for the implementation of the measures. Therefore, a so-called Zero Waste Advisory Board will be developed with multiple stakeholders from different city sectors. Also, the whole zero waste-process will be accompanied by large public relations campaigns and stakeholder cooperation’s.

With its zero waste-strategy, Kiel intends to take on a pioneering role for cities in Germany and beyond. In fact, the Zero Waste strategy won the Hans Sauer Award 2021 in the category “Strategies”, demonstrating Kiel’s ambitious and thoughtful process.

In addition, the city of Kiel is following an international movement and wants to become one of the first fully certified Zero Waste Cities according to the independent, third party certified standard, powered by the non-governmental organization Mission Zero Academy (MiZA) of the international network Zero Waste Europe. Actually, Kiel has become the first so-called Zero Waste Candidate City in Germany. Thereby, Kiel wants to encourage other cities to join the zero waste-movement, too.


Author: Selina Kahl (Selina.Kahl(at)
Zero Waste project team member, City of Kiel

Contact on the subject: Tatjana Allers (Tatjana.Allers(at)
Zero Waste project manager, City of Kiel