How to ensure a successful future implementation of the alternative Biocircularcities scenarios?

After the selection of the biowaste chains to be studied, the current situation in each pilot area and the alternative scenarios implementing a circular bioeconomy pattern (more here) will be investigated. How can it be guaranteed that these alternative scenarios will be successfully implemented? 

Stakeholders, Living Labs and Peer Reviews are the answer!

At each stage of the work, from the selection of the biowaste chain to the development and validation of alternative scenarios, the local stakeholders of the three pilot areas are involved. These stakeholders come from different sectors, all of which play a role in the analysed value chain. In the case of Biocircularcities, they represent nine groups: local waste management authorities; local authorities; academic and research institutions; private companies; NGOs (including trade unions); professional associations; municipalities; Companies collecting and managing biowaste. 

A key step in working with stakeholders is to recruit the right ones. The added value for the Biocircularcities pilots is to take advantage of the stakeholders’ deep knowledge of the value chains. For example, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona got in touch with consultants, technical university staff, waste management treatment plant operators and lawyers, as well as with the Catalan Waste Authority to get input from all of Catalonia, not just the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. Similarly, the Province of Pazardzhik invited representatives from its municipalities and from other regions as well as associations, ESCOs or SMEs. The Metropolitan City of Naples decided to first work with regional decision-makers, universities and entrepreneurs from the agro-industrial food sector and then recruit additional experts working in the coffee value chain, selected for further investigation.  

Why should local stakeholders play an important role in the project?

In the first year of the project, stakeholders were involved with three main objectives: (i)validating information on the state-of-the-art of current biowaste management systems at pilot level, (ii) understanding the existing challenges and identifying potential solutions to overcome the defined challenges, and (iii) guiding the definition of the alternatives to be studied for each biowaste chain. Not only do they bring different perspectives, earn about the project and increase their knowledge on circular bioeconomy, but above all, the earlier the actors of the value chains are invited, the more likely the alternative scenario can be adopted and successfully implemented. 

The collaborative knowledge generated guarantees that the decisions taken by project partners are aligned with local priorities and that a fruitful dynamic is implemented from the very beginning. Inputs from stakeholders are collected and evaluated in the so-called Living Labs. In these interactive meetings, stakeholders have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and validate the project results in small groups. 

So far, two sessions of Living Labs have taken place. The first one, in March 2022, introduced stakeholders to the project and discussed the current biowaste management systems in the pilot areas, as well as relevant legislation and best practices at EU and local level. 

The second round of Living Labs, in September 2022, aimed to identify the barriers and drivers that can limit or foster biocircular products/processes at each specific stage of the selected biowaste chains in the pilot areas. Discussions generally analysed the supporting measures that could help overcome the identified barriers, contributing to a more efficient and sustainable implementation of the circular bioeconomy. 

In addition to the local stakeholders, international external experts have been carefully selected to provide input during the Peer Review Sessions, after each round of Living Labs (more on Peer Review #1 and Peer Review #2).