The European Union plays a key role in international efforts to promote sustainable development throughout the world. The environmental policy of the EU up to 2020 is guided by the Seventh Environmental Action Programme, of which the European institutions and the Member States are jointly responsible.
One of the main perspectives in the Europe 2020 Strategy is to further advance progress towards the achievement of a Circular Economy (CE). The Waste4Think project promotes a major transformation of the current model of waste management so as to convert this model into the foundation of the principles of this new economy paradigm.
The CE aims to promote change towards a more efficient economy in the use of resources and an approach to development with low-carbon emissions. This new paradigm seeks to maintain the values of products materials and resources as long as possible.
In this regards, there is a need to implement specific actions to quantify the degree of attainment of these strategies at municipal level, mainly in terms of effective management of municipal waste because it accounts for about 10% of the total waste generated in the European Union.
The European WASTE4Think project, led by the DeustoTech institute of technology at the University of Deusto, seeks to design solutions based on the use of information and communication technologies that would enable the improvement of all waste management stages, adopting a global approach and particularly focusing on citizen participation in order to build more sustainable, eco-friendly cities.
The project is being undertaken by an international consortium comprising a total of 19 partners including 5 public agencies and administrations, 1 research organization, 2 universities, 7 SMEs, 2 large enterprises, a business cluster and an NGO which will work together during 42 months with a total budget of 10.5 M€ and an overall contribution from the EC of 8.8M€.
The main objective of Waste4Think is to move forward the current waste management practices into a circular economy motto demonstrating the value of integrating and validating 20 eco-innovative solutions that cover all the waste value chain.
Attached to this main objective a set of specific ones have been defined to indicate what the project will be focused into:
- To reduce generation of waste thanks to prevention campaigns and cooperative activities to promote reuse and eco-design solutions.
- To promote behavioural changes in the waste generators by awareness campaigns and new educational tools in order to foster more sustainable consumption and production habits and to increase the rate of waste sorting.
- To improve the integral waste management services reducing their management costs and the GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.
- To reduce the amount of primary waste deposited in landfill to zero and to the maximum in case of secondary waste.
- To identify the waste products with a low potential for recycling and to propose eco-innovative valorisation and production solutions.
- To assess the transferability to the market of the new proposed eco-innovative solutions.
The solutions include technological and non-technological approaches. The benefits of these solutions will be enhanced by a holistic waste data management methodology, and will be demonstrated in 4 complementary urban areas in Europe:
Integrating all these solutions we will be able to construct a virtual smart city laying the foundations of the circular economy maximizing the expected results up to:
- A 8% reduction of waste generation
- A 10% reduction of GHG emissions
- 20% increment of waste sorting
- 10% savings in the management costs
- The experience gained, and the synergies among the 19 partners supposes and opportunity to launch new governance and business models around circular economy.