In Europe, we throw away 200 kg of biowaste per person per year. But more alarmingly, did you know that only 33% of this waste is recycled? This type of waste is recyclable and can be given a new life. In the TV programme "Ciència amb tu" we talked about urban circular bioeconomy and the HOOP project, which aims to promote the recovery of this type waste in the urban environment.

But what is the urban circular bioeconomy? It is a model of circular production and consumption, in which regeneration and reuse are encouraged. The circular economy aims to keep products, equipment and infrastructure in use for longer. Waste is converted into raw materials, i.e. resources, to generate new valuable products, so that instead of ending up in landfill, we give them a second life. For example, composting is a technique for turning organic waste, such as food waste, into natural fertilizer. This process makes it a valuable resource for agriculture and gardening.

And in this regard, citizens have a lot to say and a lot to contribute.

This is where the HOOP project comes into play, accompanying 8 European cities and regions in the development of urban circular bioeconomy initiatives focused on the manufacture of bio-based products from biowaste and urban wastewater. Measures to boost processes for the valorization of the organic fraction of solid waste and urban wastewater sludge have been tested and evaluated in the different cities.

In the framework of HOOP, we have facilitated the dialogue between the parties involved in the process, what we call the quadruple helix:

  1. Citizens, local communities and NGOs
  2. Public Sector: local governments, public institutions and environmental authorities
  3. Private sector: industries and SMEs
  4. Academia and scientific community.

How do we facilitate the dialogue? In the Biowaste Clubs, the main platform for dialogue to involve all stakeholders. The aim is to co-design innovative strategies and to be the nexus of union and participation of all parties, to jointly decide on possible actions to be implemented.

At Science For Change, we coordinate the Bio Waste Club of Murcia, and we have also carried out citizen science interventions using digital tools to involve citizens in this process. We have been in charge of ensuring the participation of local agents and of dynamizing the co-creation and evaluation sessions of the measures to be applied.

We have also co-designed a digital citizen science game adapted to each of the 8 HOOP cities. This game was co-designed in the different HOOP cities through design thinking processes, in which 99 people participated over 10 sessions.

During the game “HOOP Trainers”, citizens must train an avatar whose mission is to convert organic waste from their city into useful bio-products over the course of three missions:

  1. Correctly separate 10 types of waste into their respective containers.
  2. Give an opinion on 4 questions related to household waste separation
  3. Select a type of bioproduct that they would be comfortable consuming, among 4 options proposed: fertilizers, bioplastics, nutrients and chemicals.

The participants’ choices throughout the game allowed us to understand the perception of the neighbourhood in each region about the separation of bio-waste, the acceptance of products made from bio-waste and their proposals for building a greener and more circular environment.

There were a total of 1296 participants and after data collection through the App, 164 participants analysed the results obtained in the BioWaste clubs meetings, co-creating proposals to improve the organic waste collection system.

These 164 citizens co-produced policy recommendations to address specific local challenges in HOOP cities, addressing waste separation and recycling strategies, promotion of sustainable practices, circularity and education.

Participants emphasized the importance of waste separation at home, suggesting measures such as installing compost bins in accessible locations and incorporating strategic bins in public spaces, or recycling bins shared among neighbours in the same building. Creative strategies for sustainable waste management were also identified, such as the creation of urban gardens with composting facilities.

The measures implemented by the HOOP Lighthouse Cities serve as a pilot for the network of follower cities that will try to replicate the actions to improve their circular economy strategies.

You can watch the TV programme here:

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