The project

UrbanWINS was a European project funded by the Research and Innovation Program Horizon 2020 that studied how cities consume resources and products, and how they eliminate the waste produced, in order to develop and test innovative plans and solutions aimed at improving waste prevention and management.

Launched in June 2016, the project analysed current strategies for waste prevention and management in a total of 24 cities and assessed how they contribute towards resilience and resource efficiency. The project followed the urban metabolism approach, in which cities are considered living organisms that use natural resources and create a flow of materials and energies. The results were used to define objectives and indicators of the Strategic Plans for Waste Prevention and Management in the eight pilot cities.

Active participation from citizens, governments, organisations, suppliers, research institutes and educational centres was an essential part of the project, through face-to-face and online urban agoras in the eight pilot cities, where participants shared opinions, discussed ideas and planned solutions.

The participatory approach was an added value of UrbanWINS, as the vision of all relevant players for waste production and management at urban level were taken into account to co-develop new strategies and co-test innovative solutions. Recommendations and tools are transferable to other urban contexts. The final outcome of the project is a toolkit for participatory and science-based decision-making and planning for waste management that can be applied in any public authority across Europe.

This three-year project was co-ordinated by the Municipality of Cremona, in partnership with 26 partners.

A total of 27 partners from 6 different countries were involved in UrbanWINS (local authorities, research bodies & universities, companies, NGOs), under the coordination of Comune di Cremona (Italy).

Step by step approach

Deepening the understanding of the state-of-the-art of urban waste management strategies: In-depth analysis of the heterogeneous situation in 24 EU cities in 6 countries

Setting up participatory instruments: Face-to-face and virtual discussion groups – urban agoras – were created to engage urban stakeholders in the co-creation and the discussion of the new solutions. Actors with different roles in the waste value chain and in the waste prevention and management cycle were invited to join the UrbanWINS participatory instruments.

Development and testing of the innovative waste prevention and management: The recommendations and instruments were tested in eight pilot cities in Europe, with different socio-economic, demographic and political backgrounds. Their experiences were compiled in an online toolkit available here.

The European Advisory Board

UrbanWINS had the support of a European Advisory Board (EAB), comprised of 20 high-level representatives from EU decision-making bodies, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders from the waste sector.

The EAB contributed by providing feedback on the technical developments of the project and in disseminating the project outcomes to gain a broader outreach, such as with newer EU Member States.

The EAB, together with the UrbanWINS team, announced the Alliance for Urban Metabolism at the final conference of the project.


Duration (months)



What were the impacts of the project?

> Better understanding of the state-of-the-art of urban waste management strategies in 6 European countries


> Awareness raising on the limit of resources, as well as on waste prevention and management


> Engagement of a wide range of stakeholders to co-develop and co-test new solutions


> Enhancing a process by which waste prevention policies, and re-use and recycle actions become ordinary practices


> Mutual learning from the cities involved in the project


> Progress towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns


> Better perception of the links between urban environmental resilience and quality of urban life


> Lowering barriers for a circular economy by understanding waste as a resource


> Encouraging replication in other cities and EU countries

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