Tropa Verde in Guimarães (Transfer Story)

Marias journey towards a greener future.

Maria

Maria is the name of my 80-year-old neighbor. Maria has a huge heart and is always offering vegetables from her garden to all neighbors. Her house is old and very cold during the winter, therefor I thought about offering her a heater with high energy efficiency and economy. The heater that fits Marias’ needs is expensive, but with the discount we got from recycling through the TROPA VERDE project helped me. This is a story that we will be able to hear in the future with the TROPA VERDE project in Guimarães. The Municipality of Guimarães embraced this project, being responsible for its implementation, appointing VITRUS Ambiente and RESINORTE for its execution, to create a more sustainable city with a focus on optimizing waste management.

Tropa Verde

TROPA VERDE is an environmental project that directly aims to encourage and increase reuse and recycling, bringing significant savings to cities, contributing to the efficiency in the use of resources and improvement of environmental quality, fully in line with the objectives of the EU2020 Strategy and flagship resource efficiency initiative.

TROPA VERDE was born in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) in May 2015, and our goal is to implement it and adapt it to our reality. Thus, we increased the range of partners, including parish, shopping, and green points in schools. Other partners allied to the project are public partners, namely the associations Tempo Livre and Oficina.

The objective of TROPA VERDE is simple: to reduce waste that can be recycled in the undifferentiated fraction, to increase recycling, as well as to raise awareness and hold citizens accountable for adopting more eco-conscious habits.

The adaptation and transfer of TROPA VERDE implied several complementary activities at the local level, based on the knowledge and experience of Santiago de Compostela:

-The identification and creation of a network of collection points and the definition of their value in stars (points).

-Work meetings with local partners (shops, museums, etc.) to help them create rewards that would motivate citizens.

-The technological adaptation of the platform to the needs, realities, logistics of Guimarães.

-Inscriptions of partners and collaborators on the platform, with the clear conditions agreed and defined for each one of them.

The divulgation of TROPA VERDE is fundamental to attract partners, the local economic development, and to start the path to greener Guimarães. In addition, Guimarães is very active in recovering waste and implementing innovative and collaborative activities to promote a circular economy.

How they did it in Guimarães

All TROPA VERDE’s planning and organization work was developed, outlined, and carefully designed. Thus, a set of establishments/ entities with interesting and appealing products and/ or services for the public was selected, to form a partnership, through which the establishment offers rewards. In addition, a marketing plan was also developed for each partner, framed with the typology of each one.

Relatively the TROPA VERDE’s website, it is fully translated, adapted and includes the content introduced by each partner.

Furthermore, during this phase there were also meetings with partners and other employees of TROPA VERDE. Some of the TROPA VERDE’s meetings were held from the headquarters of VITRUS and/ or the Municipality of Guimarães and others at the headquarters of our partners. Following are the information from the referred meetings:

-8 January 2020 at the mall Espaço Guimarães to present the TROPA VERDE to potential partners to convince them to join the project.

-25 September 2020: ULG - URBACT Meeting of the Local Action Group (meeting with TROPA VERDE colleagues)

-16 October 2020: ULG - URBACT Meeting of the Local Action Group (meeting with TROPA VERDE colleagues).

They believe that raising awareness of accession to TROPA VERDE must be properly thought out and outlined, as it is crucial to achieve the intended results in this project. Thus, work was done on the development of communication, both at strategic points, as well as in the interaction with the adult and young population. Therefore, innovation was present at this stage to produce mobile advertising, merchandising, flyers, posters, or attractive billboards to highlight TROPA VERDE and that indirectly created curiosity in citizens.

One of the most fascinating ideas was the creation of a stand for the presentation of TROPA VERDE to citizens. This dynamic aim to captivate young and adult audiences to participate in the various activities in order to raise awareness of greater waste separation. The stand will incorporate 3 distinct modules with modern and ecological architectures to provide comfort and well-being to the participants in the activities in each module.

TROPA VERDE will be operationalized through the creation of a digital platform in which citizens can exchange their stars (points) that they receive when they deliver their recyclable waste for discounts or offers of products or services. This way, citizens are directly rewarded for their sustainable, responsible, and environmentally friendly behavior.

Through sustainable behaviors, namely, the deposition of recyclable waste at different collection points, citizens receive more stars, the greater their effort. Depositing the waste at the recycling bins is not equivalent to the effort and time invested to send the waste to a recycling center. The number of stars earned will be different. Scheduling a collection of high volume waste and green waste will also be a way to receive stars.

In the case of Maria, we would have to explain how to separate the waste and encourage her to change her habits and indicate where she should deposit her waste to obtain the rewards.

In terms of reward, TROPA VERDE in Guimarães will have private and public partners. In this phase, a set of establishments/ entities with interesting and appealing products and/ or services for the public was selected with a view to forming a partnership, through which the establishment offers the rewards it deems relevant (offers or discounts), stipulating the number of stars needed for this discount and, in return, the Municipality of Guimarães offers free propagation on the official digital platforms.

They hope, with this project, that recycling in Guimarães will increase between 5% and 10% in 2021.

COVID-19… we obviously met some complications and challenges…

The current pandemic that they are going through, known as the coronavirus pandemic, has led to several changes in society both socially, economically, and also environmentally.

In this atypical year that we all live in, they learned to live with an invisible virus, and we were forced to change habits, routines, and behaviors.

In this context, the Municipality of Guimarães assumes itself as an active agent in preventing the spread of this virus, transmitting through various means the good practices recommended by the World Health Organization. Thus, and taking this into account, the last few months have been dedicated and focused on combating and preventing this pandemic.

For this reason, the implementation of TROPA VERDE, which was planned to be this year, had to be postponed until the spring of next year.

They believe that the divulgation and communication of TROPA VERDE are one of the main factors for the success of the project in Guimarães. Thus, for the launch of the TROPA VERDE project, they are apologists that the launch of the platform and its presentation be simultaneously with the official pages (website and Facebook) and with all associated communication.

However, the work continued to develop in order to present new ideas and suggestions both at ULG meetings, in meetings with partners, in preparation for the launch, as well as in the development of the platform.

A journey with the support of URBACT

URBACT's objective is to promote sustainable and integrated urban development and aims at territorial cooperation and collective learning through the sharing of experiences. The TROPA VERDE project fits into European funding projects, as it presents a pragmatic, innovative and sustainable solution that integrates the economic, social, and environmental dimensions. The financing by URBACT facilitated the implementation of TROPA VERDE in Guimarães, to achieve higher recycling rates, a greener and more environmentally friendly municipality.

In 2019, recognition of the implementation of TROPA VERDE in the Municipality of Guimarães generated news in newspapers and websites. The recognition of the effort of planning and dedication to TROPA VERDE, by the media, is gratifying. Several news reports refer the benefits of joining TROPA VERDE, the association of 6 European cities together in the fight to separate waste and promote a circular economy.

Guimarães is a pioneer in Portugal in terms of waste management and innovative environmental projects. The Municipality of Guimarães is responsible for guiding and coordinating the TROPA VERDE project and has the skills of specialized and experienced teams such as VITRUS Ambiente and RESINORTE for logistical actions.

A journey towards a greener future and “lots of Marias”

They achieved their goal of transferring the Santiago de Compostela project to our reality in Guimarães, to achieve and create a more sustainable city focused on optimizing waste management. The project was adjusted to the municipality in which they introduced the parish boards and association boards, the shopping mall, and the green points in the schools. Other partners are allies of the project are the public partners Tempo Livre and Oficina. We adapted the concept of Santiago de Compostela and improved it considering our reality.

They believe that this project is an asset for all citizens of Guimarães. Recycling with rewards will increase the number of people who practice recycling and behaviors will be replicated in many Marias.

They are proud to be part of a project that promotes environmental practices and directly distinguishes those who care for the Planet. The certainty that we are contributing to a greener future leaves us with a sense of “mission accomplished” and the continued desire to do more each year.

December 2020

Submitted by Christian Beade on 25/05/2021