In this third webinar, various European cities shared their experiences tackling the waste management and circularity challenge

How are cities connecting their circularity strategy to climate change mitigation actions?

What are the main barriers and issues that they are facing?

The third Climawebinar Connecting the dots of circularity explored the critical transitions from business-as-usual waste management to circularity – a crucial step towards climate neutrality. Here’s a quick look at the innovative approached taken by Ioannina, Cascais, Torino, Sofia and Guimaraes.

Ioannina – Educating students to foster a circular economy

The Greek city of Ioannina discussed waste and the circular economy in the context of its Climate Neutrality Action Plan, presenting concrete actions and initiatives for waste prevention and reduction. Among those initiatives, in 2023, an initiative aimed at local schools – Let’s recycle – involved about 10.000 students from 86 schools. Thanks to this project, they collected 32,450 kg of recyclable materials such as paper, aluminum, plastic, batteries, and clothes.

Cascais – Technology and citizen involvement as the key to success

The Portuguese city of Cascais’s successful strategy focused on four main things: state-of-the-art technology, operational adjustments, an upskilled staff, and citizen engagement.

Already for many years, Cascais has been working on various initiatives aimed at decreasing the amount of mixed waste – the waste sent to landfills. To achieve this, the city has implemented a smart waste management system that combines the use of underground waste containers with a technology of remote fill–level sensors. The sensors tell the waste operator when the containers are full, ensuring that containers are only emptied when they have reached their capacity. This helps minimise the number of trucks in the city and optimise the use of resources for collection.

The city was able to involve citizens in the recycling process and textile stream management through gamification. For example, they run a dedicated Citypoints app that grants points for recycling plastic, metal, and glass and then allows citizens to exchange points for sustainable awards, such as reusable water bottles or city services such as museum passes or bike rentals.

Torino – Reducing food waste by fostering collaboration, communication, and strategic thinking

The Italian city of Torino has made a significant effort towards reducing food through strategic planning and stakeholder engagement. The city established the Interdepartmental Group on Food Policy (GIPA) to improve communication across municipal departments involved in the food supply chain.

In 2017, researchers from the University and Politecnico of Turin published the first Food Atlas of Metropolitan Turin, now an online platform offering a comprehensive overview of the city’s food system. This tool aids in setting future food goals for Turin and its metropolitan area and engages the public through events and training.

Collaborating with local stakeholders and businesses and inspired by other European leading cities, Torino developed a strategic document, Local Green Deal focused on sustainable, circular food systems. Recognising the need for financial support, the city launched a call for circular economy and food initiatives, supporting innovative pilot actions by SMEs and NGOs.  And most recently, in 2023, The City Council officially approved the Food Policy Guidelines.

Sofia – Switching the mindset: Waste a resource

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, has set up a Waste Management Information System (WMIS) to streamline and optimise waste collection services. It provides data collection and monitoring, tracking, and reporting, and allows for improved collection routes and resource management. However, as the European Green Deal states: “Technology alone will not deliver the climate neutrality we are aiming for; we need systemic changes across all sectors and active engagement from citizens to make sustainable choices.” The administration of Sofia shares this understanding and is currently focusing on changing citizen behavior to view waste as a resource.

Guimarães – testing innovative recycling methods.

Portuguese city Guimarães, joined the discussion and presented the RRRCICLO strategy – Strategy for Circular Economy – aiming to prevent food waste and establishing commitments, networking, and focus groups. Innovative methods and creative ways of recycling were tested. Textile waste management is another challenge that Guimarães tackled by supporting new partnerships between small and large companies for a stronger circular economy.

Once more, the webinar highlighted the importance of engaging the local community in the climate transition and measuring the social impact of the actions taken.

In an overpopulated world, waste production keeps growing. But to leave a cleaner, habitable world to the next generations and mitigate climate change now, we need to develop creative and efficient solutions. As this webinar demonstrated, the circular economy is the answer.

Click HERE to watch the webinar.

Interested in discovering more topics? Take a look at our two other CLIMAWEBINARS! Find the one on Climate Neutrality, City Contracts and Pilot Solutions HERE and the one on Mobilising communities of practices: energy and mobility HERE.