Valencia leads together with the cities of Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Alba Iulia (Romania) the European Project “Plastic Circle”, an innovative initiative involving nine Member States of the European Union, which will be financed by 90% from EU funds. The project aims to achieve an improvement in the plastic container waste stream from a circular economy perspective in order to reintroduce containers in the plastic value stream.
The circular economy is a priority for the EU, and Valencia is at the forefront of this momentum. It is an important programme for our city, which has been selected for this pilot project to extrapolate and extend the conclusions and results obtained to the other cities of the EU countries.
The pilot Project takes place in Sant Marcel·lí neighbourhood. During 2017, the process of designing and the study of the project will be driven forward, to be implemented in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Plastic packaging will be reintroduced into the value stream through innovation processes at all stages of waste collection, transport, sorting and recovery.
The Project requires an investment of 3 million Euros, of which the European Union contributes up to 90% (2.7 million). The City Council and the concession company SAV (Sociedad de Agricultores de la Vega) are responsible for the installation of smart containers with the capacity to identify users and implement anti-fraud measures. The objective is to introduce innovative solutions for household plastic waste management.
SMART CONTAINERS AND REWARD FOR CITIZENS
In the collection phase, a system is implemented to identify the quantity and quality of the packaging generated per household by designing containers which can identify users and complementing the action of placing packaging with a reward system for citizens to promote an optimal collection.
The transport phase is the one that causes more expense and that is why smart containers are equipped with sensors capable of measuring the filling level of the container in real time for optimized collection route planning and trucks are equipped with waste pressing systems to increase its carrying capacity, which means fuel savings. Nowadays, the waste compaction level is 28 kg per cubic meter and the objective now is to reach 35kg/m3.
The improvements in sorting come from the development of air flow system –currently, it is carried out on conveyor belts– and its optimal separation into fractions that are recovered later. With regard to the recovery of materials, the idea is to develop innovative products in the previously classified fractions: foam plates for wind turbines, insulation structures, bumpers, garbage bags, asphalt sheets or street furniture (fences, benches, protective walls).
All this through the development of replicable, transferable business plans available for the city of Valencia and also for the entire European Union.
A consortium of 20 institutions, both public and private, from 9 EU states (Spain, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Romania and Slovenia) has been formed for the project presentation. The system’s pilot trial will take place in three cities and Valencia (Sant Marcel·lí neighbourhood) has been one of the selected.
The Spanish partners of the Consortium are InnDEA Valencia, coordinating the drafting of the consortium and its development, ITENE (Packaging, Transport and Logistics Research Institute”, SAV-LAVEGA (a waste collection company), INTERVAL (a plastic industry in Valencia), ECOEMBES and KIMbcn (Knowledge Innovation Market Barcelona). 10% of the planned budget will be paid by the private companies.
The project is particularly significant since it involves citizen participation, as the design of the programme gives great importance to the concept of co-creation, that is, the contribution of users themselves. And, beyond the facilities in neighbourhoods, this initiative involves finding new and economically viable means for new technological solutions with associated business plans that can make possible the implementation of all this in the rest of the city and in the rest of the cities of the European Union.
Valencia is with this European Project at the forefront of sustainability and innovation studies and actions.