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Valencia Citizens Take Active Role in PlastiCircle Innovations

5 November 2018

The neighbourhood of San Marcelino (Sant Marcel-lí) in Valencia, Spain, has hosted an interactive workshop on better recycling of urban waste – part of a PlastiCircle initiative to boost local participation in the project’s many innovations.

On 23 October 2018, more than 30 people who live or work in the San Marcelino area linked up with PlastiCircle to contribute ideas on better waste separation and recycling in the neighbourhood.

San Marcelino will be the first of three European pilot neighbourhoods for the PlastiCircle project, so the consortium is eager to hear how citizens are separating their waste, and what ideas they have for the innovative ‘smart containers’ PlastiCircle is developing to collect plastic waste before it is transported from the area for further sorting and recycling.

At the workshop, citizens called for a more inclusive process in the design of PlastiCircle’s plastic waste containers, to better reflect the needs of the community. Neighbourhood representatives also echoed project leaders’ calls for economic incentives to encourage recycling. These aspects are intended to be fully integrated into the PlastiCircle project – not only in Valencia, but also in the other pilot sites in Alba Iulia in Romania, and Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Local people firmly welcomed the arrival of PlastiCircle in the neighbourhood, saying the project was both “positive and necessary” to improve recycling processes there. But citizens admitted that ignorance of good waste separation practices was hampering efforts in the community.

To combat this, the workshop’s various working groups were clear on the need to invest more time and resources in training citizens, with a special emphasis on dissemination of knowledge within colleges and educational institutes.

“It’s important that citizens are aware of the issues faced by public administrations, and vice versa; putting ourselves in others’ shoes helps us come to a consensus,” said Natalia García from workshop co-organiser SOSTRE.

But waste separation was only one aspect addressed by the workshop. During discussions, working groups were also set up to look at plastic waste containers and citizen reward systems for good separation.

Such incentives might include reductions in various public administration fees, direct discounts at shops in the neighborhood, discounts for municipal public transport or leisure services, and cut-price cinema or theatre tickets.

Workshop participants also had ideas for boosting overall citizen participation in the pilot, especially with smart solutions. Personal ID cards and the use of mobile applications to consult waste collection points could identify those who recycle most often, so they can then benefit from incentives and rewards.

Organised by PlastiCircle partner Las Naves and SOSTRE, the workshop was part of a series of events under the auspices of Valencia Canvia Pel Clima.