UrBAN-WASTE Project: Urban strategies for waste management in tourist city

Europe’s cities are amongst the world’s greatest tourism destinations. The socio-economic benefits that tourism offers to these cities are extraordinary but, at the same time, it implies greater generation of municipal waste. In light of this, UrBAN-WASTE is committed to reducing waste generation, increasing recycling rates and improving the municipal waste management performance in 11 European tourist cities through the implementation of eco innovative, inclusive and gender-sensitive strategies.

Solid waste is a commonly identified impact of tourism, but is rarely examined in tourism literature. Globally, it is estimated that the tourism industry is responsible for the generation of 35 million tonnes of solid waste annually. In comparison with other cities, tourist cities have to face additional challenges related to waste prevention and management due to their geographical and climatic conditions, the seasonality of tourism flows, and the specificity of the tourism industry and tourists as significant waste generators. These challenges threaten, amongst other things, the preservation and conservation of ecosystem services (i.e., sea, beaches, natural parks, etc.) offered by tourist destinations, which are the basis of the environmental survival of tourist cities and of their attractiveness.

The UrBAN-WASTE project aims to support policy makers in responding to these challenges and in developing strategies to reduce municipal waste generation and to further support the reuse, recycling, collection and disposal of waste in tourist cities. UrBAN-WASTE is a Research and Innovation Action co-funded by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 programme. The project was launched on the 1st of June 2016 during a kickoff meeting held in Tenerife (Spain) and will run for 36 months, until the 31st of May 2019.

As Europe attracts tourism from the North to the very South, the 27 partners participating in the UrBAN-WASTE consortium – in which the company BIOAZUL (Malaga, Spain) is involved – cover very different regions: Northern (Denmark, Sweden), Eastern (Croatia), Western (Austria, Belgium, France and the Netherlands) and Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Cyprus). The identity and role of the participants is key to the success of the project, as it includes 7 municipalities, 6 local authorities and development agencies, 2 waste management authorities and observatories, 7 universities, 3 SMEs, 1 network of regions and cities, and 1 association of hotels and tourist establishments. Another key aspect of this innovative project is the involvement of 11 tourist cities which have committed to collaborating and implementing specific strategies and measures on municipal waste management and prevention. The pilot cities are Copenhagen (DK), Florence (IT), Kavala (GR), Lisbon (PT), Nice (FR), Nicosia (CY), Ponta Delgada (PT), Santander (ES), Syracuse (IT), Tenerife (ES), and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (CR).

In order to achieve its goals, UrBAN-WASTE has applied the urban metabolism approach to support a switch to a circular model, where waste is considered as a resource and reintegrated into the urban flow of tourist cities. For this purpose, Material Flow Analyses (MFA) and Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) have been carried out to analyse the status quo of every pilot city on waste generation, to define indicators relevant to tourism and waste, and to collect data (e.g. waste quantities, composition, etc.) as well as to estimate the impact of tourist activities. In parallel with the metabolic analysis, a participatory process inviting relevant stakeholders has been set up through a Mobilization and Mutual Learning Action Plan. The Plan directly involves decision makers, waste authorities, NGOs, citizens, tourists, etc. through the organisation of Communities of Practice (CoP), mutual learning events and staff exchanges amongst
pilot and supporting cities. Moreover, Municipality Forums are periodically organised so that pilot cities can meet and exchange views, ideas and best practices. This participatory process is essential as it is providing valuable inputs for the formulation of the waste prevention and management strategies.

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Publicado en: FuturENVIRO Nº 44 Octubre 2017