Newsletter may 2012

Save the date: Miniwaste Final Conference in Rennes, 20-21/11/2012

zoom sur le compostThe Miniwaste final conference will take place in Rennes (France) during the European Week for Waste Reduction. This event will exhibit the results of the project and highlight the main tools available for cities and regions to address bio-waste prevention on a local or regional scale.

This one-and-a-half-day event will include both presentations and discussions amongst bio-waste experts and workshops with smaller groups. During the conference, the participants will also have the opportunity to test the computerized tool developed to monitor bio-waste prevention activities and to see what communication tools were used to involve citizens in local initiatives.

During the first afternoon, the European context will be presented (with ACR+ presenting various practices implemented in Europe) and various waste management strategies, from waste prevention solutions to centralized bio-waste management, will be compared. On the second day, the morning session will be very practical and interactive and will cover four issues: composting, reducing kitchen waste, monitoring tools (with in particular a focus on the protocols developed by Irstea/Cemagref and the computerized tool) and garden waste. The afternoon will address the results obtained by Rennes Metropole, Lipor and Brno in mobilizing citizens and stakeholders in composting and other actions to reduce bio-waste at source. Eventually, a roundtable will give the floor to public authorities’ representatives, from local to European level, in order to debate strategic choices regarding bio-waste management.

The programme is available on the Miniwaste website. More information: contact@miniwaste.eu

Assessing compost projects: follow the protocols!

In order to help cities and regions to assess the potential of home composting projects, Irstea (formerly Cemagref) has been entrusted to develop and validate scientific and technical methodologies, or “protocols”. To develop these three protocols, Irstea tested tools that can be used to evaluate the quantity of compost in individual and collective housings and the quality of the compost. The result is a series of reports and recommendations describing the possible benefits and disadvantages of these tools and giving advice on how to implement them in an appropriate manner.

Assessing how composting in individual households impacts waste quantities

One of the main results of Irestea’s research is that conducting a survey (by phone or other means) is an interesting tool that allows us to spot households where further action related to bio-waste prevention is possible afterwards. It also helps to identify households where home composting on heaps is implemented. However, surveys are not the best tool to get information about composted bio-waste quantities and must be complemented with other tools regarding this objective, like waste characterization, or GSI (for green waste quantification). On the other hand, monitoring waste weighing per household is heavy to implement and the same information can be obtained through other means (comparison between collected waste characterization and application of a theoretical avoidance ratio, complemented with a mapping of household implementing home composting).

What about collective households and restaurants ?

Two steps were implemented. Regarding the monitoring of bio-waste generated – in order to assess the potential of bio-waste available for reduction – the testing showed that the best solution is to analyze the composition of collected waste and to use additional quantitative information (the weighing of the trucks being the easiest method).  The key being to evaluate what population (number of inhabitants) is producing this waste.. Other methods (weighing sensors on bins or the “estimated density” method) are more expensive and need either to check the effective transmission of data or frequent moving on site. Regarding the monitoring of bio-waste composted – in order to see what is effectively diverted –Irstea ended up with the conclusion that composting referent people weighing bio-waste they put in the composting bin is the best solution, the alternative method of mineral mass conservation appearing to be not reliable for this type of assessment.

How to assess the compost quality ?

Regarding the sensory assessment by composters on site, the results of the research showed that the best indicators to assess the compost are the presence of living organisms in the compost (worms, flies, ants, fungi, etc.), smell (type and intensity) and the rate of decomposition of the compost. Regarding the physic-chemical analysis in the laboratory, the research showed that the germination potential of the sampled compost was a little bit better for individual compost than for collective compost and that compost is a good growing medium more than a fertilizer. The research also showed that, apart from very limited exceptions, the levels of heavy metals, parasites and pathogens are way below the standards which demonstrates that compost can be used safely, for instance for kitchen garden or ornamental plants growing.

The three protocols are available on the Miniwaste website.

Helping Europeans to put their hands in the compost

The Miniwaste inventory of waste prevention good practices gathers ten detailed initiatives implemented in Europe about waste prevention, mainly focusing on bio-waste reduction. Out of these ten cases, three come from Turin, Kent, and Porto and aim at fostering home composting by households.

Waste reduction in Turin Province

In Piemonte, Italy, COVAR 14 is a public consortium that coordinates waste management in 19 municipalities in the north-east of the Province of Turin. COVAR 14 launched two campaigns in 2004 and 2006 to promote integrated waste management and waste prevention. As a result of the campaigns, in 2006, 63% of the waste was collected selectively. Moreover, in 2008, approximately one family out of ten was involved in home composting and 90% of the visited citizens practiced home composting correctly.

The campaigns clearly explained the objectives, in parallel with the concrete implementation of door-to-door selective collection of waste. They also involved stakeholders (in particular the local authorities representatives) and used targeted promotional activities and monitoring visits. The instruments used in the campaigns include in particular:
  • a tax incentive (pay-as-you-throw scheme): a reduction of 20% on the variable part of their due taxation when signing a commitment form.
  • information: publicity with common visual identity, specific educational project for schools, exhibition, other awareness raising activities like information points, distribution of home composting manuals, courses in home composting practices, theatre play for children.

Partnerships for composting in Kent County

The second initiative comes from Kent County, UK, and has its origins in 1996. Regarding composting, the most recent update of waste reduction strategy (2008) aimed at diverting 18,500 tonnes of bio-waste from the garbage, selling 103,000 bins up to 2012, and involving a minimum of 150 active compost advisors. The assessment of the results showed that, at the end of 2010, 34% of residents carry out home composting, 200 Compost advisors have been accredited, and about 70.000 composting bins have been sold.

The success of the actions is based on the involvement of stakeholders at an early stage, the identification of targets (schools) relying on urban characteristics (gardens) and in collaboration with national networks (WRAP, etc.). In order to involve the local population in home composting, Kent County Council used the following instruments:
  • Restrictions in collection facilities: green waste was no longer collected, which left the choice between two options: home composting or bringing green waste to a recycling center.
  • Subsidised compost bins for residents and free compost bins for schools.
  • “Compost adviser” training: a 48 hours training followed afterwards by the support of the compost advisor network.
  • Information provided during the plan conception and its implementation (in particular, distribution of facts sheets, emails invitation, radio advertisers, road shows, a theatre company visiting schools, and monitoring of schools).

Distributing composting in Porto region

Last but not least, the “Terra a Terra” project was launched in 2007 by Lipor (Portugal) with the aim of distributing 10.000 composting bins to households, schools, institutions and companies, in parallel with assistance and training, and to promote waste reduction and life quality. Between 2007 and 2011, there have been more than 6200 composting bins distributed.

Those interested in receiving a free composting bin must fill in the registration form, be over 18 years old and live in a house with a garden in the Project area or work in a company with a garden in the Project area. After attending a free Composting Session, they will receive a composting bin. Instruments used included in particular an application form, subsidies (for the composting bins), training courses, communication (in particular through the website www.hortadaformiga.com), and monitoring visits to the composting bins.

Take a look at the full inventory to know more about these cases and the other Miniwaste good practices.

Focus on a partner: Irstea/CemagrefLipor

ach issue of the Miniwaste newsletter focuses on one of the five Miniwaste partners  (Rennes Métropole, ACR+, Lipor, Brno and Irstea/Cemagref). This time, Irstea (formerly Cemagref) is under the spotlight.

Irstea, the new name for Cemagref, is a public scientific and technical institute in joint supervision with the Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Agriculture. Irstea’s main missions include initiating, implementing, coordinating and supporting, in the medium and long-term, on its own initiative or at the request of the government, all scientific and technological research in the areas of developing sustainable land management, especially agricultural and natural land, and their resources. Irstea’s status as a research center ensures credibility to the scientific and technical results and to the project.

Through the Miniwaste project, Irstea aimed to develop technical knowledge about composting. As researchers, their principal tasks within Miniwaste were firstly to define the methodologies which evaluate the quantification of waste diverted thanks to composting and the quality of the compost, and secondly to validate different evaluation protocols. These protocols covered tools aimed at helping cities and regions to assess three ranges of issues:
  • the quantity of bio-waste diverted through home composting at individual level
  • the quantity of bio-waste diverted through collective composting in community buildings or restaurants
  • the quality of compost produced by decentralized composting schemes.

Irstea also participated with Rennes Métropole in the research and development project ECCOVAL, financed by the Brittany Regional Council, which focused on the factors favouring active participation of local households in home composting activities.

The European Week for Waste Reduction: Let’s talk about waste prevention

Communication is a key element of waste prevention strategies, in order to change the behavior of consumers and producers, and with a view to eventually reducing the waste produced. The European Week for Waste Reduction is a LIFE+ project that aims to gather and promote awareness-raising actions about waste prevention during one single week.


During the 2011 edition of the Week, 7035 awareness-raising actions were implemented all over Europe – and even further afield – by administrations, associations, schools, companies and shops, and many other actors. Some Pre-waste partners were also involved in the Week, as coordinator (so called “EWWR Organisers”) or by implementing awareness-raising actions (as “Project developers”).

As the EWWR Technical Secretariat, ACR+ has the key role of making the link between all EWWR Organisers and coordinating the Week in regions and countries that are not covered by any Organiser yet. Being one of the EWWR project’s partners, Lipor is also deeply committed to the Week, coordinating, promoting and implementing more than 190 communication actions in its region. Rennes Metropole also took the opportunity of the Week to communicate on waste prevention, through several activities.

The best actions will be rewarded during the EWWR Awards ceremony that will take place on 19 June in Paris. On the same date, an international conference will assess the results of the EWWR after 3 editions. The scope of the conference will cover communication strategies about waste prevention and will be followed by a technical conference on 20 June about waste prevention planning at local level.

The next edition of the EWWR will take place between 17 and 25 November 2012. Public authorities willing to coordinate the EWWR in their region are kindly asked to express their interest by 30 April 2012. You can start to think about what you will do during the Week now!

More info : ewwr.eu and  contact@ewwr.eu

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 What is Miniwaste

a 3-year European project funded by the LIFE+ programme of the European Commission that aims to design, implement and assess an innovative and sustainable strategic plan to MINImise municipal organic WASTE in EU countries, up until 2012.

With the financial support of the LIFE+ Programme of the European Commission

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