Resourcing Plastics from the City
Priority AxisResource Efficient Economy
Lead partnerStad Gent
Project budget9 450 154 €
ERDF amount5 501 451 €
The 2S region is one of the most proliferative regions in the EU when it comes to generating plastic waste, but overall, plastic recycling rates are incredibly low (20-30%). Within the urban environment – often including cities near water bodies – a lot of plastic waste is available that would, in terms of quality, technically be eligible for recycling but is not effectively validated. These so-called ‘lost plastics’ can form a prominent role in the circular economy, providing actors and stakeholders with an economic opportunity to benefit by stepping away from traditional plastic disposal methods. These economic opportunities are not fully known/understood, collection logistics not fully developed, sorting facilities not well equipped or stakeholders not fully engaged. These are all barriers to realize the full potential of plastic in the circular economy and need to be overcome if the 2S region is to play a key role in delivering the EU strategy for plastics in the Circular Economy.
The objective of the PlastiCity project is to develop replicable strategies and solutions that are able to increase recycling rates in urban environments from 20-30% to over 50% by unlocking the use of ‘lost plastics’ as secondary resources from the urban environment. Additional objectives are:
- Develop technical strategies for (reverse) logistics and reprocessing
- Inducing behavioral change and creating capacity of stakeholders such as local governments and companies through urban platforms
- Demonstrate this in 4 case study cities in the 2Seas area (Ghent (BE), Den Haag (NL), Southend On Sea (UK) and Douai (FR))
- Creating new value chains and designing new products, amongst others by unlocking the full potential of ‘medium’ size actors (SME’s, offices, retail, schools, etc.)
- Deploy a mobile unit for testing, demonstration and sensitisation
- Create business activity and employment in the circular economy (100-400 jobs)
The main project output is a strategy to create PlastiCity hubs to significantly increase the recycling rates lost plastics in urban environments in the 2Seas region. Such a hub is defined as a local network of relevant partners and physical infrastructure, supported by a digital environment/Urban Platform
We also deliver:
- A methodology to deliver tailored solutions for logistics and lumping waste streams with optimized balance between quantity and quality of plastic collection and reprocessing
- A replicable model to create capacity for plastics in the circular economy through urban platforms (with digital data management) and new business models
- Demonstration and implementation of the Plasticity approach in 4 case study areas with the development of 4 new value chains with business cases, the design of 4 new products and first investments to actually start up (parts) of the hub
- A mobile unit that is used for testing, demonstration and sensitisation in the 4 case study areas
Cross border approach
We foresee a quadruple helix co-creation process involving industry, government, research and citizens. This brings together a diverse range of urban and academic skills, expertise and approaches and different national and local systems that will help identify best practice, ensuring that we can develop a replicable model that is relevant to other urban environments in the 2S region. Indeed, cities in the 2S area display huge differences in economic typologies, waste management schemes, cultural context, and local and regional policies. Insights in this variety and its impact on the business models facilitates the assessment of specificities and best practices and facilitates replication towards other urban areas. PlastiCity involves 4 case study cities, each focusing on demonstrating specific aspects of the strategy. To facilitate cross-border collaboration, PlastiCity involves a mobile unit that travels in the 2S region to perform testing, demonstration and sensitisation actions.
Since the start of the project in January 2019, PlastiCity has completed 4 project outputs. The project published a report outlining the replicable strategy to develop case-specific solutions for the collection, sorting and reprocessing of currently wasted plastics in urban environments. The planned and executed plastic waste collection from local businesses, with the help of the project's investments in each region.
The Hague invested in an innovative solution: an extra large cargobike, including a large container. Besides being a zero-emission last mile solution it also is a good promotion vehicle. With this bicycle, a first round of plastic collection was organised in the Hague. In Flanders, an electric vehicle was acquired by GRCT as part of the mobile unit to collect plastic waste from local businesses, including a bar code scanning system to track the origin of the plastic waste at company level. A first collection round was executed in the Herenthals region. DPL invested in an installation that addresses the issue of contaminated film. The investment can be used for testing and exploring new markets for the hubs in the different regions.
In all regions, meanwhile, a strategy to enthuse local businesses to participate in PlastiCity was also being worked on. Interviews were conducted with local businesses to identify their attitudes towards plastic waste separation. Ghent University acquired two sea containers and developed a mobile unit for plastic characterization and pretreatment with those two containers. The necessary machines were purchased and installed in the containers and the containers are operational. The mobile unit is temporarily parked on university property until travel restrictions related to corona are lifted.