The EU economy currently loses a significant amount of potential secondary raw materials which are found in waste streams. In 2013, total waste generation in the EU amounted to approximately 2.5 billion tons of which 1.6 billion tons were streams that could be potentially reused or recycled. More specifically, only a limited share (43%) of the municipal waste generated in the Union was recycled, with the rest being landfilled (31%) or incinerated (26%) (Eurostat, 2015). Towards that end, the Commission proposes to: a) ban the landfilling of recyclable plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard by 2025; b) increase the recycling rates for packaging waste by 80% until 2030; c) increase the reuse/recycle of municipal waste to at least 70%; and d) eliminate landfill by 2030. Thus, turning waste into a resource is an essential part of increasing resource efficiency and closing the loop in a circular economy (COM 2014/398/EC)
Specifically in the Balkan region, is the added challenge of a lack of national or regional strategies for effective management of solid waste which the annual generation of municipal waste, mainly from households but including similar wastes from such sources as commerce, offices and public institutions has largest increases (EU Envir. Agency “SOER 2010”)
The objective for SWAN is the creation of an innovative Balkan Med ecosystem with free access to all interested parties that will develop locally and manage transnationally value chains for solid waste reuse. It will be comprised of two parts:
This will be a collaborative network of four IT platforms,one for each country of the consortium.Each IT platform will act as a digital observatory for cataloguing the corresponding partner region’s solid waste sources and flows.A common architecture will enable them to exchange information,leading to the creation of the SWAN Balkan Solid Waste Map–a unique dashboard of solid waste flows and stakeholders in the region,and a significant step in developing pragmatic solutions to the aforementioned EU challenges.
These freely accessible platforms will act as repositories of best-practice business models for solid waste management.The content of the platforms (Solid Waste Map,business models) will be processed and used by a set of new algorithms for technical and financial matching of waste producers and collectors across the platforms–thus promoting and exploiting transnational opportunities.
i.e. a network of industries in the region that produce and use solid waste.These are the direct users of the SWAN Digital Ecosystem,and thus its immediate beneficiaries.Their collaboration will aim at the development and promotion of local/regional/national and transnational solid waste reuse value chains.This is a significant characteristic of our approach as it will enable exploitation of recycling opportunities that may be prohibitively costly at local level but cost-efficient through a transnational value chain.
In addition, the industrial ecosystem will have direct access to the two Ministries of Environment (Gr, Al) of our project team, thus enabling the development of a wider network of stakeholders/decision-makers, for investigating together common approaches, local adaptations through policy making, and transnational economies of scale through smart cooperation at all levels (technical, project, stakeholder). Finally, the LP will contribute a unique waste management facility that may be used as testbed by this ecosystem.
Industrial partners using our dual Balkan Med Ecosystem may realize significant profit by reducing the purchase cost of primary resources and raw materials or by creating a new revenue stream and giving value to a product that was previously considered waste. It could also contribute to the region’s government revenues (through taxes) while helping create new jobs, new business opportunities and promote green growth. Policy makers could also benefit from the policy recommendations that will stem out of the project and develop a common regional Balkan roadmap towards solid waste management and reuse. Finally, solid waste management companies could exploit the developed platform in order to offer improved waste management services – having an interactive overview of the solid waste sources and streams may help them identify and deal with key issues, such as overcapacity.”