LATEST NEWS

PlastiCircle turns spotlight to Dutch city of Utrecht

8 October 2019

For the pan-European PlastiCircle consortium, last week’s flurry of intense activity marked the start of the second PlastiCircle pilot initiative. After a hugely successful pilot in Valencia, Spain, we now turn our attention to pilot number two in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

With the starting gun fired on 30 September, the Utrecht pilot has got off to a strong start. In the pilot district of Terwijde, more than 65 participants have already signed up to a virtual citizen participation platform – designed to accompany people through each stage of the pilot. Here it’s all about increasing locals’ knowledge of plastic waste, motivating them to separate this waste better, and encouraging Utrecht citizens to reduce the plastic waste they produce in the first place.

For Eric Velthuizen, project leader at the City of Utrecht, the emphasis on “reduce, re-use, recycle” is central to Utrecht’s engagement with its citizens:

“Like other European cities, Utrecht wants to reduce the amount of waste we produce and recycle as much as possible. In fact, this means recycling at least 50% of our waste by the end of 2020. And by 2050, we want to recycle 100% of our waste. For this, our local economy will have to change from a “linear” to a “circular” economy – and PlastiCircle can help.”

Mr Velthuizen adds: “PlastiCircle can help us to improve our citizens’ awareness on waste in general, and in particular the knowledge our citizens have on plastic packaging waste. With this increased consciousness and knowledge they will be able to reduce the amount of plastic packaging waste and to recycle more.”

Every week, citizens who participate in the pilot will receive a different ‘assignment’ on how to: treat their household plastic waste; better separate it before collection; reduce their waste, or even how to recycle it more effectively.

“Let’s not forget that the PlastiCircle approach offers a number of solutions that can help the way we do things in Utrecht,” recalls Mr Velthuizen.

“For example, we now have techniques that can help us reduce the number of kilometres driven per waste disposal truck (thus reducing costs and CO2 emissions), and also software that makes for safer driving behaviour.”

A series of PlastiCircle innovations tested during the Valencia pilot will be rolled out in Utrecht over the coming months, with route optimisation software for collection trucks of particular interest to innovators within Utrecht's local authorities.

The PlastiCircle consortium will be visiting Utrecht in late November to early December for a closer look at how PlastiCircle innovations are being rolled out, and what challenges need to be addressed on the ground to make the pilot more successful and more relevant for the inhabitants of Terwijde.

For more updates, follow PlastiCircle on Twitter via @circ_economy.

EU plastics projects join forces – “multiplier effect” to boost circular economy in Europe

7 October 2019

Twenty innovation projects joined forces today to boost European Union efforts towards a circular economy for plastics. The ‘Plastics Circularity Multiplier’ group will communicate to policy makers, the public and industry on a range of EU-funded innovations – innovations that aim to bring plastic materials into the circular economy of the future and create new business opportunities and jobs in Europe.

Launched on 7 October in Brussels, the newly formed group will pool resources and expertise to “multiply” key messages from the ecosystem of projects that receive funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. More than 300 projects dealing with plastics in a circular economy have been supported by the FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes – part of the EU’s global push to invest in circular economy solutions to achieve the goals of the 2018 EU Plastics Strategy.

“The investment that the EU is making in the circular economy is on such a scale that it’s vital to communicate what that means for the environment, citizens, businesses and cities across the continent,” said Alexandre Dangis of DEMETO, the project leading the group.

“With the initial participation of 19 projects, the Plastics Circularity Multiplier will look to boost our impact, but also identify the regulatory barriers to be overcome and the investment needed if we are to put in place a truly circular economy for plastics in the EU,”  added Mr Dangis.

The first round of results by the Plastics Circularity Multiplier will come in the summer of 2020 – earmarked for a Brussels conference showcasing synergies among the participant projects.

The Plastics Circularity Multiplier will go on to open up its activities and participation in September 2020 to all ongoing EU projects, whether in Horizon 2020 or in the new Horizon Europe framework programme.

As Mr Dangis explains, “The group aims to complement existing resources set up by the EU institutions, such as the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, the EASME Project Data Base, and the ‘Innovation Radar’ – all designed to engender a veritable ecosystem of EU investments in the circular economy and innovation.”

The initiative is managed by EuPC, as Communication and Dissemination leader of the DEMETO project, with the participation of other Horizon 2020 Projects in the field of plastics circularity:

CIRC-PACK, Circular Flooring, CREAToR, DECOAT, FiberEUse, HARMONI, iCAREPLAST, ISOPREP, MultiCycle, NONTOX, PlastiCircle, polynSPIRE, PUReSmart, REACT, REMADYL, REPAIR3D, SMARTFAN and TERMINUS.

Life project REPOLYUSE has also joined the initiative as guest participant.

EIB, banking institutions launch EUR 10 billion circular economy initiative

25 July 2019

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has teamed up with multiple national banking institutions to support the circular economy in Europe. The partnership will target more than EUR 10 billion of investments to prevent waste, increase resource efficiency and foster innovation across multiple sectors of the European economy.

On 18 July 2019, the Luxembourg-based EIB announced it had teamed up with five “national promotional banks and institutions” from Poland, France, Italy, Spain and Germany to deliver the Joint Initiative on Circular Economy (JICE) with initial investments spanning the next five years (2019-2023).

Supporting the circular economy transition

According to the EIB, JICE will provide “loans, equity investment or guarantee eligible projects and develop innovative financing structures for public and private infrastructure, municipalities, private enterprises of different size (sic) as well as for research and innovation projects”.

In particular, this means supporting investments in European Union member states that accelerate the transition to a circular economy, targeting all stages of the value chain and life cycle of products and services.

This will include investments in circular design and production – applying “reduce and recycle” strategies to design out waste at source – and enabling the “reuse, repair, repurposing, refurbishing or remanufacturing of products in use phase”. The recovery of material and other resources from waste will be equally important.

Stemming the tide of waste

EIB president Werner Hoyer said: “Fighting global warming and environmental crises is the most urgent challenge of our time. Strengthening the circular economy is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. It will not only help the Paris Agreement target but also bring huge benefits for the economy and society.”

Dr Hoyer added: “With the Joint Initiative on Circular Economy, we are scaling up our ambition and joining forces with our peers to stem the tide of waste.”

The five banking institutions joining the EIB in the initiative are: Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), Groupe Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) (France), Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Italy), Instituto de Crédito Oficial (Spain) and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) (Germany).

The PlastiCircle approach officially launched on World Environment Day

5 June 2019

In the Valencian neighbourhood of Sant Marceŀlí (San Marcelino), press and local dignitaries gathered yesterday on 5 June for the official launch of the first PlastiCircle pilot initiative.

Since the neighbourhood pilot began in earnest one month ago, nearly 450 families in Sant Marceŀlí have signed up for the PlastiCircle pilot, under the local Valencian name ReciPlàstic.

Through an innovative “ecopoints” reward system, participants are incentivised for better household sorting of plastic packaging waste, and of course its disposal – which can be done at one of 25 yellow “smart containers” dotted around the district.

Yesterday’s official launch to local media, on World Environment Day, was an opportunity to spread the key messages of the PlastiCircle campaign in Valencia: that citizens can learn to recycle more and better whilst contributing to a circular economy, and of course to PlastiCircle’s innovative approach to the treatment of plastic packaging waste, converting it into added-value recycled products.

César Aliaga, PlastiCircle co-ordinator and head of sustainability at Valencia’s ITENE group, said: “Thanks to these smart containers we can go some way to improved recycling and a more circular economy – with the help of an ecopoints system that allows users to later claim for a variety of rewards.”

Aliaga added: “(This is) an initiative in which, at present, 446 families in the Sant Marceŀlí neighbourhood are participating, and I expect there will be more.”

The pilot initiative wouldn’t be possible without the active support of local residents, and specifically the local neighbourhood association. For the association’s president, Salvador González Bartual, the pilot is turning out to be a win-win initiative:

“We are a neighbourhood that gets very involved in recycling issues and we are showing it through strong participation (in this pilot). And thanks to the pilot, we are learning how to recycle more and better. The workshops being conducted with residents and in schools... everything helps.”

The pilot project will continue until the end of the summer. Residents who have registered for the scheme via the super hero-themed website www.supermarcelina.com can deposit their packaging waste in one of the 25 yellow containers in the neighbourhood. Each smart container has an innovative ticket dispenser that gives the user a unique bar code ID for their waste bag. This way, it is possible to identify how well each resident has been sorting their plastic waste. “Ecopoints” are then accrued by the user and claimed for rewards at a later date.

Valencia is the first of three innovative PlastiCircle pilots, all designed to roll out innovations in plastic waste collection, transport, sorting and recycling. The remaining pilots will be held in Utrecht (the Netherlands) from August, and in Alba Iulia (Romania) from the winter of 2019-2020.