Rossano Ercolini, an elementary school teacher, was awarded the Goldman Prize in 2013 for his work to lead a public education campaign about the dangers of incinerators in his small Tuscan town that grew into a national Zero Waste (ZW) movement.
As president of Zero Waste Europe, Ercolini’s campaign has experienced tremendous growth over the last year. The number of Italian towns that have adopted Zero Waste practices has increased by 80% over the last year. Ercolini credits winning the Prize for this growth, “At the leadership level, I can say that ZW Italian municipalities increased in number from 114 to 200, showing that the Prize empowered ZW in Italy and maybe also in Europe.”
Ercolini has gone to great lengths to keep the Zero Waste movement growing across Europe, attending over 40 conferences in Italy, Spain and France and networking with over 10,000 people. He has also been asked by prominent Italian publishers to write two books about the Goldman Prize and Zero Waste.
Zero Waste Italy recently hosted a successful training workshop for hundreds of participants in Ercolini’s home town of Capannori. Now, they are busy preparing for a national bike tour across Italy with stops in towns that exemplify Zero Waste practice.
Through all this, Ercolini has managed to keep his day job. He continues to teach elementary at the first grade level. “It is funny but very important,” he says of his work with the students.