The Urban Waste project develops innovative ecological strategies for sustainable waste management in tourist regions. With a WasteApp the tourists are also integrated.

According to estimates by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), tourists account for around fourteen percent of the global volume of municipal waste. This puts a particular strain on those communities whose economy is based largely on tourism. Europe is particularly affected: Of the one point one billion tourist arrivals worldwide, six hundred million fall on Europe alone (UNWTO estimate).

Urban Metabolism Analysis

Compared to other cities, tourist cities face special challenges in waste management and waste avoidance – not least due to seasonal peaks. In the cross-border project Urban Waste – Urban Strategies for Waste Management in Tourist Cities, political decision-makers are to be supported in solving tourism-related problems in waste management in a sustainable way. Afterall, sustainable waste management contributes to maintaining the quality of life and holidays in the tourist regions.

The project is based on an urban metabolism analysis. Urban Metabolism is a multidisciplinary and holistic strategy platform that investigates material and energy flows in cities as complex systems influenced by social, economic and ecological forces.

Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts

In the Urban Waste project, the concept is applied for the first time in the field of tourism. The aim is to develop a uniform method for the evaluation of tourist waste. Parameters are the tourist activities, the local characteristics and the current organisation of waste management.

  • Local factors influencing waste management include basic urban structures, architecture, lifestyles, behaviours, socio-economic aspects, etc.
  • The current organisation of waste management is analysed in terms of environmental impacts and social and economic aspects.

Circular Economic Approach

By considering production and consumption patterns, a circular economic approach can be developed that also addresses important issues related to local development – such as production, employment and service-oriented activities, which are preferred to disposable products.

This knowledge base will be combined with an assessment of existing technologies and best practice examples in the field of waste prevention and management. This will allow best practices to be provided. The evaluation of the economic strategies developed in the project will ensure their transferability to other cities.

WasteApp for Tourists

The implementation of the developed strategies will be supported not least by a specially developed WasteApp. It addresses tourists and should inform them about the waste system and positively influence their waste behaviour. The incentive is provided by a system that awards points in compliance with best practices. These can be exchanged for gifts or services from cities or participating institutions. Last but not least, the WasteApp also promotes dialogue. Problems and suggestions for improvement can be reported.

Launched in June 2016 on Tenerife, one of the pilot regions, Urban Waste will expire in June 2019. The multi-stakeholder consortium consists of twenty-seven partners from twelve European countries. These include university and non-university research institutions and representatives of local and regional authorities and associations from tourist regions.

The Institute of Waste Management (ABF) of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna contributes its expertise in two project phases:

  • in the survey of the current situation in the eleven participating European tourist regions;
  • in the assessment of the ecological impacts of the implemented optimisation strategies;

Reducing Food Waste

Under the direction of Gudrun Obersteiner, the waste volume per overnight stay was determined by means of statistical analysis. The analysis showed that up to two kilograms of waste remain at the holiday destination per holidaymaker and overnight stay. In particular, food waste has a negative impact on the greenhouse effect. The measures that were developed from this were the prevention and separate collection as well as the post-treatment of food waste:

  • By introducing a food waste tracking system, restaurant operators could be sensitized to the large quantities of food waste. This resulted in a total saving of one hundred and eighty-one tonnes of CO2 equivalents over the project period. This saving corresponds to 1,400,000 passenger car kilometres driven or the annual greenhouse gas emissions of twenty Austrians.
  • The introduction of Doggy Bag reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to three kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of avoided food waste. Doggy Bags are containers in which guests can take their food leftovers for their dogs with them.

Twenty-two measures were tested and evaluated. Each one led to a considerable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Urban Waste project was funded by the EU research programme Horizon 2020and coordinated by the Government of the Canary Islands. The following pilot regions were involved: Azores (Portugal), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Florence (Italy), Kavala/Thrace (Greece), Copenhagen (Denmark), Lisbon (Portugal), Nicosia (Cyprus), Nice (France), Santander (Spain), Syracuse (Italy) and Tenerife (Adeje, Arona, Puerto de la Cruz) (Spain).

Further information on Urban Waste can be found on the project website: http://www.urban-waste.eu/