Rossano Ercolini was awarded a Goldman Environmental Prize in the field of sustainable development for his work in organizing recycling efforts in Campanorri, Italy. After plans were announced for a new trash incinerator to be built in his village, Ercolini organized town hall meetings, where he provided information on recycling and composting as alternatives to incineration. Incineration is a method of trash disposal popular in Italy and other European countries that releases greenhouse gases and hazardous toxins into the air.
After building momentum with his town hall meetings, Ercolini founded an organization Ambiente e Futuro (Environment and Future) to promote his Zero Waste strategy. The group led protests in the streets against the construction of the incinerator, and in response, the local government withdrew plans to construct the incinerator and put Ercolini in charge of creating an alternate waste disposal system. Now, Campanorri recycles 82 percent of its waste and incinerators in the rest of the Italian province have been closed.
Ercolini’s efforts and his advocacy for Zero Waste policy surpassed his small Tuscan village, and have spread to other parts of Italy and across Europe. The policy was adopted by the city of Naples in 2009, and the Zero Waste network is growing in Central and Eastern Europe.