5 tips to build a circular community with the EWWR - mywaste My Waste

5 tips to build a circular community with the EWWR

24 Sep 2021


Interesting actions for the 13th edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction are already arriving! Remember, you have until 12 November to register your action, taking place between 20 and 28 November. If you are still hesitating about your idea, do not wait any longer and  contact your Coordinator to get all the support you need.

In the meanwhile, let us guide you through the challenging topic of Circular Communities. If you have never heard about circular economy, this is a great day to start shaping your life in a new and exciting way. If you are aware of the circular approach but still trying to figure out how to organise an action to build your own circular community, you will find here a list of inspiring ideas and elements to consider to make your action a success!

What is a circular economy?

We talk of circular economy to refer to an alternative to the traditional and linear industrial model (take-make-waste). This linear concept of development has brought our society to face unprecedented challenges: lack of natural resources; high levels of pollution of air, water, and soil; overwhelming of plastic items in the sea; exploitation of fertile lands transformed into landfills to contain our waste; etc. The circular approach is a new way of development that keeps the resources in use as long as possible. Everything is not merely reused but even designed and built with the idea of transforming the elements and resources in something new.

The circular economy concept should be a central component in local and regional economies, which have a suitable scale for closing resource loops, creating sustainable circular ecosystems and designing participatory community-based innovation schemes. This is the reason why we decided to focus the 2021 edition of the EWWR on circular communities. Together we will prove the great power that local communities can play in promoting circular resource loops, sustainable production and consumption patterns, as well as waste prevention tangible results.

How to shape a circular community?

You will find below our 5 tips to keep in mind when planning your action; even better if you are able to mix more of them. By the way, if you think that this is a new unexpected topic for the EWWR campaign, you are very much wrong. In fact, this year we decided to simply highlight the role of local communities, which have been part of the campaign for years. To prove our point, you will find actions registered in the previous editions associated to each tip. Ready? Let’s go!

  • Generate positive effects on environment and society: promote solidarity!

Promoting waste reduction while producing positive effects on your own community, or on a specific target of people in need, is a great way to contribute in building a sustainable, just and etic society.

Launch of a circular economy for medical aids in Haute-Saône (France) implemented by Mutualité Française de Haute-Saöne – Business/Industry category – Edition 2019

This social and solidarity medical insurance company has joined forces with the APF France handicap delegation from Haute-Saône and the Ress’urgences resourcery repair enterprise to launch a service to collect, clean, disinfect and repair used medical equipment like wheelchairs, standing aids and walkers.

The three main strong points of the action included: environmental benefits resulting from averted waste and material reuse; social benefits stemming from ensuring easy access to medical equipment for those with limited means; and benefits related to economic solidarity, stemming from job creation for those with limited employment opportunities.

Re’Compota (Portugal) implemented by ADCE – Associação de Desenvolvimento do Concelho de Espinho – Association/NGO category – Edition 2020

Thanks to Re’Compota, the Social Canteen of Espinho Parish received jams and marmalade to give to its beneficiaries, whose number increased significantly between March and June 2020 with approximately 140 meals delivered daily (as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic the canteen space closed and meals were given as take-away). Fruit shops, markets, grocery stores, and private individuals offered several kilograms of fruit, non saleable, to make the jams and marmalades. Through this action, it was possible to combat food waste, raise awareness about donation, help others and reuse materials. Once prepared, the jams were placed in glass jars (reused) and the marmalade in packages of ice cream and others (reused). The fruit leftovers were composted to be used as fertilizer in the association’s organic garden. To complete the process, the labels for the bottles/ packaging were prepared reusing supermarket magazines and miscellaneous paper.

  • Exchange knowledge to engage more people in the change

Sharing knowledge is a great way of promoting waste prevention by practically teaching how to embrace a circular lifestyle, or how to transform a waste in a resource, or even how to prepare homemade cleaning products. By organising workshops and trainings, you gather together people interested in reducing the production of waste and you shape a new community which will spread the circular approach in every aspect of their lives.

“From scrap to shoes” upcycling workshop (Germany) implemented by Andrea Natterer – Citizen(s) category – Edition 2019

Using her creativity and charisma, this German shoemaker has embarked on a mission: teaching people how to reuse materials and thus prevent waste. The bonus? A new and comfortable pair of shoes. Becoming an expert shoe upcycler is not easy though, for the craft of shoemaking has its secrets that take time to discover. That is why Andrea tutored small groups of 4 or 5 students during two full days before the latter can graduate to expert shoe craft masters. The workshops have been the opportunity to gather together people interested in reducing their own waste, not only by bringing the broken shoes to a repairer but becoming themselves shoe craft masters. Each participant will be able to transfer the knowledge to even more people shaping bigger and bigger circular communities.

AmbiMapp, your guide to a sustainable lifestyle (Italy) implemented by Ambimente – Citizen(s) category – Edition 2019

A group of Treviso residents supported their fellow residents in becoming more environmentally conscious consumers by setting up a platform called AmbiMapp. Available online, it maps water fountains, eco and repair shops, and other points of interest that are useful in order to live a more sustainable life and to reduce waste. The map is a work in progress, adding venues that just opened. During the EWWR 2019, the group organised a walking tour and bike ride during which they explained the initiative and added several new venues to the map. Thanks to the map, Treviso residents have access to the necessary knowledge to transform sustainable practices in good habits.

  • Facilitate collaboration among local actors and organisations

The action of a single person can generate a circular community, but the impacts are multiplied when the activity results from the collaboration of more people or organisations. You can increase the impact of your action by involving key local stakeholders such as shops, public authorities, organisations, schools, elderly houses, businesses, etc. This will also increase the chance that your action will be continued in the future. Indeed, an action of the EWWR can be the starting point of a long-lasting collaboration that will bring positive impacts on your community and on the environment.

School and commerce, anti-waste symbiosis (Catalonia, Spain) implemented by Resid’US – Business category – Edition 2018

Resid’US is a zero-waste social enterprise that focuses on providing employment to women at risk of social exclusion while promoting alternatives to disposable products and packaging and fostering the circular economy. Resid’US built a successful collaboration between a chain of frozen yoghurt (froyo) shops and a school with the goal to prevent waste generation. The students at the Eiximenis school collected around 300 glass containers that their families no longer needed. Using them, three Llagurt shops offered their customers the possibility of having their froyo served in reusable rather than disposable containers. This action created a circular community that not only raised awareness on waste prevention but generated tangible results.


Nudging as behavioral change strategy to reduce waste at Hotelschool (The Netherlands) implemented by Hotelschool The Hague – Educational establishment category – Edition 2019

This action had three specific goals: incorporating the Sustainable DevelopmentGoals of the United Nations into their educational framework, building a collaboration with local restaurants to reduce food waste and generating a change in the daily habits of the students in terms of reduction of single-use waste. Under the second objective of the action, the HoReCa food waste challenge, 31 local restaurants reduced by 21% their food waste. The students, thanks to the involvement of the restaurants, learnt methods to reduce food waste in the hospitality sector and to generate successful results which could be the starting point of a long-lasting circular community.

  • Reduce resource consumption through sharing

Sharing items and services at local level is easier and convenient. Get in touch with people from your neighbourhood (or your school, company, family, etc.) and together reduce resource consumption by moving towards renting or sharing items and services instead of owning them.

The Cloughmills library of things (Norther Ireland, United Kingdom) implemented by Cloughmills Community Action team – Association/NGO category – Edition 2018

The Cloughmills Community Action Team challenged consumption and ownership habits through the creation of a library of things. It invited 650 local households to go to the local library to borrow not books, but rather tools and hardware. In this manner, the organisers aimed to strengthen the capacity of the local community to perform different tasks locally, but most importantly to reduce consumption and consequently waste and to provide local residents with a cost-effective way of accessing objects that are normally used sparingly. This is the perfect example of how the EWWR campaign can mark the launch of a circular community, since the initiative is still on going.

  • Launch challenges to promote a less-waste lifestyle

A time-limited challenge (for instance during a week) on reducing waste is a good strategy to encourage more people to change their daily habits. Even people that think they are not ready to adopt a more sustainable and circular lifestyle will have the strength to try to change their habits for a short amount of time. By engaging people in a challenge, you can also share information and advices that will keep inspiring them even once the challenge is over. Furthermore, if you plan several challenges in the future (for instance, once a year), this will build up the connection among the people involved, shaping a (circular) community.

Bye Bye Plastic Sylt (Germany) implemented by Bye Bye Plastik Sylt Citizens – Citizen(s) category – Edition 2020

The community-based initiative Bye Bye Plastick, which aims at reducing plastic use and plastic waste by inspiring private actors and businesses through diverse actions, mobilised the Sylt population to shop (almost) plastic free. All citizens were challenged to avoid purchasing items packaged in plastic for one full week and participate in a raffle that distributed 10 Sylt Buddles (bottles) designed by a local artist and stand-up paddle world champion, Sonni Hönscheid. To facilitate the process of shopping almost plastic-free, Bye Bye Plastik shared some simple tips to accomplish the mission and challenged citizen to join in this small, but relevant effort. This kind of activity has the power to attract the attention of people who are not fully aware of waste prevention but who are curious to test themselves in this change of habits. People are gathered around a challenge, which can be the beginning of a circular community.

La LouvieR3 : zero waste objective (Belgium) implemented by the City of La Louviere – Public administration category – Edition 2018

Among the several activities implemented for its recurring yearly action “La LouviereR3: zero-waste objective”, the city organised a “Zero Waste Week at School!” activity in 10 municipal schools. One week before the EWWR (reference week), the quantities of waste usually produced by students were checked and compiled in a table. During the EWWR, each participating student was asked to come to school with the least possible waste. The teacher assessed the amount of waste brought per student, comparing it to the reference week. As result, the students calculated an average decrease of 39.3% in the total waste production. The 7 days challenge can be a strategy to involve the students in a step-by-step change of habits and to foster the ideation of more challenges building up the collaboration and the connection among classes and schools. What a circular community, right?