Collectors – Waste collection systems assessed and good practices identified

COORDINATOR: Dr. Tjerk Wardenaar (PNO Consultants)
Laan van Zuid Hoorn 15 | 2289 DC Rijswijk | Netherlands
References: more info you can find here, here or here

COLLECTORS citizens focus group in Treviso (Italy); providing insight into the social and behavioral aspects of waste prevention and separation (picture taken by the COLLECTORS project).

WHERE: Europe, Coordinated in: Netherlands, ongoing project
WHEN: Implemented in 2017-2020
WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY: Recycling: Reuse – Reprocessing; Prevention: Replacement – Reduction
TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Education, information, awareness raising, Regulatory / normative, Voluntary / promotional (e.g.: business support schemes, green public procurement, infrastructure, fiscal measures)
WASTE STREAMS: Municipal waste, Packaging waste, Waste electrical and electronic equipment, Construction and demolition waste, Plastics, Other metals, Paper, Batteries, Bulky waste


About: The best practice COLLECTORS’ main goal is to facilitate the implementation of better performing waste collection systems – and thus enabling a transition towards a European circular economy. Thus COLLECTORS plays a role of:

– Knowledge provider for waste collection in a circular economy by harmonizing and disclosing available information on different waste collection systems and to gain insight into the overall performance of systems
– Facilitator for improving cooperation and participatory approach within or along different value chains and among stakeholders which can lead to more benefits for each value chain player, resulting in a quicker implementation of more efficient use of raw materials and to waste reduction.
– Coordinator for pooling of resources and defining common vision, defining global objectives and strategies requited by the complex nature of the waste management challenge to boost Eco-innovation


First version of the COLLECTORS webportal on waste collection systems within Europe (under development) (picture provided by the COLLECTORS-project).
Five tonnes of waste per capita are generated every year in the European Union. These annual 2.5 billion tonnes of waste contain large volumes of valuable materials for Europe’s industrial base such as paper, wood, industrial minerals, and metals. Proper collection of waste is a pre-condition for the optimal recovery of these materials. The current trend of increasing collection rates is promising, but progress is uneven between Members States and between regions. A recent study on collection systems in the 28 EU capitals showed, for example, that the five best performing cities outperformed the EU-average already with 35% for plastic and metal (17% above average), 76% for glass (39% above average), and 72% for paper (43% above average). All comparative studies on waste collection identify large differences between regions. These differences are due to the influence of regional and local policies. While European and national targets are the overall drivers of better waste collection, regional and local implementation appears crucial for achieving positive results. Good regional practices therefore have the potential to serve as examples for other regions. So far, however, results of existing studies and identified good practices have not been effective enough in supporting the implementation of better-performing systems elsewhere. The COLLECTORS-consortium believes that this is because: existing information is scattered; a systematic comparative approach is missing; and results do not match with the information needs of decision-makers (especially on regional and local level).

The main objective of the COLLECTORS project is hence to harmonize and disclose available information on different waste collection systems; to gain insight into the overall performance of systems; and to support decision-makers in shifting to better-performing systems via capacity-building and establishment of implementation guidelines.

COLLECTORS has formulated four specific objectives:
1. Map, harmonize and disclose existing information on waste collection systems throughout Europe for packaging and paper waste, WEEE, and construction products.
2. Assess the overall performance of waste collection systems in different geographical areas based on comparable data.
3. Stimulate successful implementation of better-performing waste collection systems by providing guidelines and capacity-building for decision-makers.
4. Engage citizens, decision-makers and other stakeholders throughout the project in the validation of project activities and results to ensure the usability of COLLECTORS-output.

Know-how: Partners input; end-user input (local and regional decision-makers); value-chain actors input (recyclers, waste managers, associations); expert input (R&D&I project coordinators)

Budget: Total cost: EUR 1,498,400, EU contribution: EUR 1,498,400

Action Line 1
– identify, harmonize and disclose available information on innovative waste collection systems within Europe (252 waste collection systems identified).
– The information on waste collection systems will be disclosed via a web-based platform that helps decision-makers to find systems that are in line with their needs.
Action Line 2
– increase understanding of the performance of different waste collection systems; taking into account different performance indicators (material quality; social acceptability; economics; environmental effects).
Action Line 3
– support decision-makers in successfully implementing better-performing waste collection systems; by means of guidelines for collection systems for the three waste streams with tailored descriptions for implementation in different geographical regions; as well as providing educational training.
Action Line 4
– ensure strong linkages with existing knowledge and interests of stakeholders along the full value chain.
– the project will rely on multi-criteria decision making and focus groups methodology as proven techniques to gather stakeholder feedback on (preliminary) results.

The project leaflet can be found here

Urban metabolism relevance
Action line 1 and action line 2 analyze waste collection in a broader perspective than merely waste management. Waste collection systems will be analyzed from a circular economy perspective; including also key effects on local levels (such as air pollution).
COLLECTORS has a strong circular economy focus, resulting in activities focusing on especially on resource use reduction. On the one hand, this concerns attention for re-use and repair. On the other hand, it aims to improve the circular value chain by ensuring that recyclers/secondary material producers receive high quality secondary resources. Aggregated data is very well available on both national consumption patterns and waste production. The project aims to open up the black-box in between, i.e. the pathways between consumption and waste management. The project implements tools to increase understanding of the urban metabolism (Sankey diagrams, LCA, CBA). Data is collected via European, national and regional databases.
The practice reduces the quantity of waste by mobilizing stakeholders towards better performing waste collection, i.e. stimulating citizens to improve waste separation, and improve secondary material quality. The project focuses especially on closing the loop and therefore takes a full value chain perspective. At present, many waste collection systems perform on a waste push basis (working with quantity targets). COLLECTORS aims to stimulate waste reduction and higher quality waste valorization.
Engaged participatory processes
COLLECTORS has a participatory approach; engaging stakeholders (local & regional decision-makers; citizens; NGOs; and industry) throughout the project. The approach of the project is chosen in such a way that stakeholder consultations take place before each new stage of the project. In this way, stakeholder can have actual influence on the project’s focus and results.
The focus of stakeholder involvement is through face-to-face meetings. In addition, the project makes use of on-line tools, i.e. webinars, data sharing platform, social media, newsletters.

Discussions among decision-makers of various European cities on the role of waste collection in the circular economy (picture taken by the COLLECTORS project)

The project provides an innovative platform; but he also promotes guidelines for improved waste collection for a circular economy.
Sustainability and replicability
The project works towards a data platform that can be used by stakeholders throughout Europe. The platform will be sustainability be maintained also after the project. Moreover, the project is easily replicable.
Success Factors
  • Stakeholder mobilisation and interaction
  • Harmonization and integration of available information on waste collection systems.
  • Contextualization of best practices to stimulate replication of good performing systems.
  • Value chain approach to ensure that waste collection practices contribute to the transition towards a circular economy.
  • Multi-criteria decision-making approach to ensure that the various dimensions are taken into account at the same time.
Waste, Resources, Innovation.
Key Challenges
For more information, please check the deliverable, or contact the implementing body.

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