THE ECOTIC Caravan
Contact: Mrs. Emanuela Cumpata, Project Manager
Tel: +40 0722.584.416
Address: 86 Splaiul Unirii, 4th floor, 4th district, Bucharest
Phone: 0040 31.805.5742/43
WHEN: Since 2014
WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY: Recycling: Reuse –Reprocessing
TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Education, Information, Awareness raising
WASTE STREAMS: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
A word from the project manager:
The Caravan has won in 2018 the EU Award for best LIFE environment project and we are very proud to receive such an honor. When it comes to awareness campaigns the first impression is crucial, but it is important also to have sustainable activities and to always return to a school. The only way to change behaviors when it comes to waste management is to change the target group attitude, to show the results of their efforts and to build a bridge between the society, stakeholders and the local authorities through partnerships, common activities. An integrated approach will always have better results on the long term. (Mrs. Emanuela Cumpata)
THE ECOTIC Caravan.
To increase the awareness regarding correct handling and treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and also promoting the use of green energy. The activities specified in the project were intended to change the attitude of the population regarding the conservation, protection and improvement of environmental quality, the protection of human health and the prudent and rational use of natural resources, especially by handing over the WEEE to authorized entities for suitable recycling.
- Knowhow: the project engaged all relevant stakeholders in a joint effort to tackle the WEEE issue at national, regional and local level.
- Funding; budget: the ECOTIC Caravan was a project implemented by the ECOTIC Organization and co-financed by the EC through the LIFE+ program: Project reference: LIFE13INF/RO/000090; Total budget: 361,321.00 €, EU contribution: 159,711.00 €
- Material resources:
- A second-hand vehicle, adapted to serve as a mobile showroom (with the capacity of an average school class-room).
- The mobile exhibition was fitted out to showcase 10 examples of dismantled, typical electronic devices (a washing-machine and mobile phone etc). The interior provided information and helped raise awareness on environmental hazards associated with WEEE and on recycling and reuse possibilities.
- Tablets for visitors (usually schoolchildren) to play a special ‘WEEE game’ developed during the project.
Overall, the Caravan has been visited by over 150.000 people from all over the country. Collected waste:
- 7 776 pieces of WEEE (result of “Recycling days in your city” campaign)
- 45.5 tons of WEEE and 3.5 tons of battery waste (result of “ECO days in your school” campaign)
The ECOTIC LIFE+ Caravan project was very successful in raising awareness about WEEE, which led to:
- Higher WEEE collection rates in the country
- Less hazardous materials landfilled
- More recovered/ recycled materials.
All 3 target groups reached higher numbers than expected:
- School children and teachers: the caravan travelled across the country (under “Eco days in your school” campaign), visiting a total of 206 schools (compared to 150 forecasted). Also, almost 85.000 pupils visited the caravan exhibition, participating in 765 eco-activities (only 10.000 were estimated initially).
- Households and the general public: the caravan stopped-over at selected towns for periods of 2-3 days carrying out local campaigns (“Recycling days in your city”) targeting the local population. At the public places, 36.000 visitors received information about the project (expected only 20.000). And at 54 additional stops, at the car-parks of large retail stores, a further 33.000 visitors received information.
- Local authorities: 10 local authority workshops (with a total of 265 participants) and 4 conferences have been organized. Here too, expected numbers of participants were higher than estimated in the project proposal.
Urban metabolism relevance
WEEE is a special category of waste because it contains substances dangerous for the environment and human health, such as gases with greenhouse effect and which affect the ozone layer: mercury, cadmium, lead, heavy metals etc. Moreover, significant amounts of secondary raw materials can be recovered, including materials which are critical resources in the current economy (cobalt, rare earths, and precious metals). Including secondary raw materials in new products considerably reduces their carbon footprint.
Engaged participatory processes
The ECOTIC Caravan has a participatory approach, as proved by the figures:
Survey on 1000 people (urban citizens aged 15-65) conducted at the beginning of project, aiming at identification of the population behavior with regard to the separate collection of WEEE, and also at the end of the project.
The over-expected number of people who directly benefitted by the information made available during the 2-years implementation period and afterwards: 150.000 people. Over 200 schools, 10 local authorities and citizens from all over the country have been engaged ever since (more than 235 000 citizens).
The project was implemented with the support of 8 industry partners, 10 important organizations in the field of education and environmental protection, numerous educational institutions and local public authorities from the counties visited within the project.
The caravan has been performed as a mobile exhibition – a novelty in Romania, at least in terms of social impact. Very few environmental campaigns have benefited from such exposure at the national level, mainly due to a large number of organizations involved in the project.
The novelty of the project was using the mobile caravan both for public information and for the proper collection of electronic waste; the use of the two components – information and collection infrastructure – significantly increased the impact of the project. In fact, the use of these two components should be implemented within any project aimed at promoting proper waste management and circular economy.
Powering the Caravan with energy from solar panels mounted on its roof has not only reduced the Caravan’s fueling costs but has been a form of promoting urban metabolism and resource efficiency.
Most of ECOTIC Caravan project activities are continuing after the project period, including the use of the caravan as an awareness raising tool, school campaigns, and general dissemination and networking activities.
After finalizing the project, the target audience has been switched from urban population to rural population, so it came to life the project “Recycling station”. The first campaign took place in Iasi County in 15 villages from June to August, 2016. The mechanism of the campaign is quite simple, the Caravan was placed in a central place of the village for 2 days, during which the locals brought WEEE and for which they received vouchers to participate in a raffle with prizes. Similar campaigns have also been organized in other counties (e.g. Brasov, Arges, Sibiu, Prahova). Campaigns implemented during the project can be resumed or replicated in other regions consistently, or can be easily involved in developing other projects.
The limit of the campaigns will be the technical availability of the caravan, as the mechanical maintenance starts to become more expensive.
The main attraction of the project was the Caravan – mobile exhibition of the WEEE, where 10 disassembled equipment items (CRT monitor, fridge, washing machine, fixed phone, mobile phones, laptop, computer, toy and iron) were presented and displayed in show cases; their role was to convey the WEEE recycling message by emphasising their content of hazardous substances, but also their reuse potential as secondary raw materials. Also, on 3 LCD monitors inside the caravan ran an animation intended to provide essential information on recycling electronic equipment.
Waste, Resources, Innovation.
In Romania, the collected quantities of WEEE waste are well below average for EU countries (source: Eurostat 2010) and collection is significantly less efficient than recommended by EU best practices. As the majority of electrical and electronic items currently thrown out with usual rubbish can be recycled, a huge potential for growth in collection rates exists, and more efforts could be taken to raise awareness and thus boost separate collection.
This situation also resulted from the responses given by people on the occassion of 2014 survey (carried out at the beginning of the ECOTIC Caravan project):
- 64% have not handed over WEEE to authorized entities
- 60% did not know what hazardous substances can be found in WEEE
- 40% did not know where they should correctly dispose of WEEE.
In 2015, statistics showed that 1.5 / 2 kg per capita was collected on average in Romania, while at the time
the target was 4kg of WEEE per capita.