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  • Tropa Verde


    Kick-off meeting
    Final Conference

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus


    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela


    Tropa Verde is a Transfer network to encourage environmentally responsible behaviour that empowers citizens to reuse and recycle. Combining web platform and low cost campaigns, it is considered as a "civic movement fully committed to sustainability and circular economy". Citizens get vouchers and exchange them for rewards from the City Council and local retailers. It connects places where disposing waste (green points, civic and social centres, etc.) with local businesses providing gifts or discounts.

    Rewarding recycling
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  • Tropa Verde in Opole Agglomeration (Transfer Story)

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    In 2018-19, in Poland they were facing many problems related to waste management, such as landfill fires often organised by the so- called "garbage mafia", illegal landfills, abandoned waste, etc. Also, the knowledge of sorting waste wasn’t good enough.

    The landfill in Zgierz fire, May 2018. Source: Wikime dia, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Author: Zorro2212.
    Source: Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0-PL, Images from Józef Burszta Digital Archive

    The cooperation with the city of Santiago de Compostela began in the second half of 2017. At that time, they received an offer to join the second phase of the project "Tropa Verde - rewarding recycling!". In January 2018, they got a message from Santiago that the application had been submitted successfully.
    In April 2018 the project received funding from EU under "Transfer Network" of the URBACT III programme. The first phase of the project was implemented   by   Santiago    de    Compostela (LP - Lead Partner) and two districts - Pavlos Melas (GR) and Budapest-Zuglo 14 (HU). In June 2018 they took part in our first PP meeting in Budapest. At the meeting it turned out that similar problems related to waste management appear all over the EU and some of them can be reduced thanks of our international cooperation. We also agreed on our common goal: promotion of more responsible behaviour of our citizens towards ongoing recycling.
    In December 2018 the project started in our agglomeration. They realised that we were receiving a complex, universal tool ready to be implemented but we also started to think how to adapt it to our local conditions.
    At the same time, at least 5 other projects related to waste management and co-financed by EU under the Regional Operational Programme Opolskie (ROP Opolskie), started. Those concerned the construction of new collecting points as well as information campaigns aimed at the public and fit perfectly into the activities undertaken within Tropa Verde project.

    Mission of Tropa Verde, Why ?

    The general aim: to create the local civic movement bringing together people responsible for the environment.

    Tropa = troop, group, pack of friendsVerde = green
    “Mondays are usually hard to survive, but the idea how to reward people and which system of recycling is the best, that’s heavier than I thought. Platform Tropa Verde started working in Polish. Now it’s closer than further”. – said Iwona Kowalczuk, Head of Waste Management Department, City of Opole.
    “Tropa Verde is a very good idea. Simple words „Rewarding recycling!” fully reflect the idea of this project. The project raises the awareness of the inhabitants in the field of selective waste management. The Tropa Verde platform is absolutely great. The French system of waste management is very impressive! Wow! Bravo! We have to learn a lot and implement some ideas asap! Minimisation of waste production is as important as segregation. Returnable packaging and rational consumption should be promoted everywhere to avoid the huge stream of waste” - said one of our key stakeholders Andrzej Brzezina – Second Deputy Mayor of Krapkowice Municipality.

    The Tropa Verde project has become an opportunity to increase the pro-ecological behaviour on our local level. The results of the activities undertaken by LP from Santiago de Compostela indicated that we are dealing with a comprehensively „well thought-out” project providing various activities (website, social media, street actions, campaigns, etc.).
    They realised that it can significantly help us in promoting collection points and idea of segregating waste. It also complemented the activities undertaken by other waste management   projects,   co-financed   by   EU   under: ROP Opolskie and URBACT („Resourceful Cities”). The Tropa Verde project fit perfectly into our realities, because it allowed the promotion of new selection points being currently created in our agglomeration. It became clear that the second outcome of the project would be the introduction of IT tools that will allow a fair calculation of waste amount transferred to the selection points. 

    The learning transfer has been very effective. This was due to the great involvement of LP employees, an external expert and NUP in Poland. All international meetings (Budapest, Santiago de Compostela, Guimaraes, Opole, Nice) were a great opportunity to get to know each other, exchange experiences and see good solutions applied by partners. During our meetings with local stakeholders, we always tried to keep members informed about good practices developed by our project partners.
    While our process of learning and transferring Tropa Verde Good Practice went quite smoothly, the Covid-19 epidemic started and, off course, caused some delays and difficulties. It made impossible, for example, direct meetings with sponsors that we scheduled for the period April - September 2020 as well others pre-planned local activities requiring physical encounters.
    Therefore, in 2020, we had to focus on online activities.

    URBACT support

    “The outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic thwarted our plans to implement the project quickly at the local level. The most important tasks consisting of 100 meetings with potential sponsors and green points employees had to be delayed for an undefined future. Our plans were additionally complicated by the temporary closing of green points and people's fears of visiting such places. Therefore, we had to adapt to the new situation and focus on online activities.” – said Mateusz Huk, projects coordinator in Opole Agglomeration.

    The help of Yvan Corbat - our URBACT Lead Expert was a great support for the learning process. Our expert offered us full professional methodological and practical support. He was also the connection between us and the URBACT Secretariat in Paris as well as explained us all the details of the programme methodology.
    At the national level, they had significant help from Aldo Vargas-Tetmajer from National URBACT Point Poland (NUP).
    The help consisted in the ongoing support from the NUP as well as their participation in all ULG meetings.
    NUP representatives allowed us to establish cooperation with Polish partners of other URBACT networks and gave us the opportunity to broadly present the project at the webinars of the Association of Polish Cities ( participants from over 400 Polish cities).
    URBACT Secretariat experts also took part in the Poland Campus (April 2019) and workshops in Nice (December 2019). During Campus in Łódź, URBACT Experts conducted very interesting and practical workshops for Polish project partners. In June 2020, we took part in a meeting online with Polish partners of other pro-ecological projects implemented under the URBACT program. The meeting was organized by the National URBACT Point in Poland (NUP).


    The adapting and transferring process of Tropa Verde Good Practice was fully in line with our expectations. The only disappointments during the project were little interest from smaller towns and complications related to the outbreak of the pandemic.
    They are currently fully ready to implement the project within its sustainability period. They also have funds secured in our budget for the implementation of the project in this period. In our opinion, the results of the project can be easily transferred to other cities in the European Union.
    Tropa Verde is such a universal tool that can help to get people used to segregating and seeing waste as recycling materials and not rubbish or garbage.


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  • Tropa Verde: recycling - the gift that keeps on giving

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    Yvan Corbat, URBACT Lead Expert, says rewarding good behaviour still works! Case in point, in Santiago de Compostela (ES) local citizens are rewarded for recycling.

    As part of the “Tropa Verde” Good Practice, encouraging environmentally responsible behaviour, citizens recieve  gifts and discounts from local shops, restaurants or public services from different local sponsors through a multimedia platform.

    Carbon neutrality

    Recycling and the circular economy

    The European Union’s fundamental values include the respect of human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. Furthermore, looking back in time to the creation of a united Europe (after WWII and further to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community), I like to bear in mind that the promotion of peace and of economic growth is also among key European values.

    Lately, further to different political, economic and migrant crises - Brexit included - many people are arguing about the meaning of European values? I, myself, am not sure I have a clear answer to this question, but am quite convinced that, one of the key differences between Europe and the rest of the world is the awareness of its citizens with respect to the protection of environment and cultural heritage. Within that framework, the different efforts and challenges towards waste management and recycling are also clear examples of real commitment from European citizens and their public and local administrations.

    Urban waste management: common objectives for European cities

    Waste management is typically a local competence and therefore local actions are critical for an effective implementation of the “EU Waste Strategy”. This strategy, which has been developed by different EU regulations and guidelines. It has evolved towards the prevention of waste, the increase of product re-use and the improvement of waste separation as well as recycling in order to reduce the volume of waste and increase the efficiency in the use of resources.

    As part of Europe’s effort to transform its economy into a more sustainable one, in January 2018 the European Commission has adopted the so called “Circular Economy Package”. A concrete and ambitious EU Action Plan that  covers the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials.

    Among the package’s targets, several are challenges that directly affect Urban Waste Management (UWM) and, consequently, the citizens and neighbourhoods, among them:

    • Recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030
    • Recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030
    • Reducing landfill to a maximum of 10% of municipal waste by 2030
    • A ban on landfilling of separately collected waste
    • The promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling

    The Tropa Verde Good Practice and experience from Santiago de Compostela (hereafter, “Santiago”) (ES) contributes to reach these common European objectives. The transfer of Good Practices between cities could significantly contribute to reach these goals, especially for some waste streams, such as used cooking oil and electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

    But what is Tropa Verde, the “St James Way to recycling”?

    Background information

    Like many European cities, Santiago has been committed to improving the environment of its inhabitants and developing green campaigns and strategies for several decades, including through public awareness activities to improve its ratio of recycling. Despite its efforts, in early 2015, the municipality carried out a survey that highlighted, among other conclusions, that:

    • 36,6% of citizens do not recycle due to a lack of habit
    • A lack of information and environmental motivation was clearly palpable

    It was considered that these attitudes damaged the beginning of the recycling chain, promoting low recycling rates and increasing the costs of Urban Waste Management. “Tropa Verde” was born in May 2015 to achieve the goal of creating a more sust

    ainable city focussing on optimising the management of waste.

    It was awarded the URBACT Good Practice Label in June 2017, and selected in December 2018 together with another 23 Transfer Networks, to be transferred to other European cities.

    Santiago then built partnerships (networks) with the district cities of Zugló (HU) and Pavlou Mela (EL), and extended it to the Municipality of Guimarães (PT), the Agglomeration of Opole (PL) and the Metropole of Nice Provence Côte d’Azur (FR).

    Tropa Verde defined

    It is important to highlight that the idea of Tropa Verde was created and promoted first by a local technological spin-off, Teimas. The company’s CEO Miguel Varela would define it as “an online gaming platform that aims to promote recycling and environmental responsibility among the citizens by rewarding good environmental practices”.

    Although technology is essential to implement this Good Practice, from the municipal perspective, Tropa Verde is to be considered as a “civic movement fully committed to sustainability, environmental awareness and the circular economy, where citizens and local partners cooperate”, according to Xan Duro Fernández, Local Councillor for Environment, Coexistence and ICT.

    Both definitions are correct, and in fact complementary. In Spanish, “tropa” means “troop” and “verde” means “green”. We are indeed talking about the creation of “green troopers” promoting recycling habits monitored and rewarded through an online platform, where citizens can accumulate “stars” (equivalent to “points”) to be exchanged against vouchers, and use these vouchers for rewards from public and private offers (mostly, municipal services and local retailers, shops and restaurants).

    How does it work?

    The existing website connects the three axis necessary to achieve the objective:

    • Citizenship
    • Collecting points
      (the places where citizens can deposit their waste and be rewarded, such as green points, civic and social centres, recovery points, etc.).
    • Shops and other local businesses and services that collaborate providing gifts or discounts

    Once the citizen/user has registered in the platform, he/she can start to “play and win” (recycle, get stars and use vouchers). But since a human check of what is being recycled is necessary, so far and as far as Santiago is concerned, it has to be underlined that the practice is only possible when the material is deposited in collecting points, where collaborators can control the kind, volume and quantity of waste being recycled.

    Santiago has established a growing network of some 30 collaborating “collecting points”, with different levels of collaboration, depending on their storage capacity (e.g. to collect paper, cardboard, batteries, used vegetable oil, plastic caps, etc.). The network includes different kind of partners, such as the 2 official waste collection points, a mobile green point (an adapted vehicle that collects small domestic waste that cannot be recycled in public bins), local NGOs, sports and educational facilities and, above all the 19 socio-cultural centres distributed within the municipal geography.

    In Santiago, for each waste delivery, one cheque (either 30 or 50 stars) is given, regardless of the number of waste and type, always respecting the minimum quantities specified in the following table:


    Minimum quantity*

    • Used oil

    1 litre

    • Batteries

    10 units

    • Plastic caps

    1 full bag

    • Papercardboard

    1 large paper bag

    • Toners

    3 units

    • Clothes

    6 large garments or 12 small garments

    • Green points (almost any kind of waste, incl. WEEE Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment )

    Min. 0,5 kg of waste

    For the transferability of this Good Practice, however, it is important to stress that the platform allows a certain flexibility: different rewarding criteria (and kind of waste) can be applied, depending on the necessities and priorities of the promoters.

    Finally, the voucher received will include a code that, uploaded on the registered account of the citizen-user, will accumulate the “stars” that can be used as rewards. The kind of rewards available can be checked on the platform, and can vary from a free coffee in a restaurant to a free haircut, free shoe repairs or discounts in a dance academy,  dental treatments - among other gifts offered by over 125 sponsors.

    Some key data/results of the Good Practice in Santiago
    (after 2 years of implementation)

    • Good citizen participation, with over 3 000 users subscribed
    • 125 sponsors, 3 000 rewards offered, more than EUR 20 000 in prizes and rewards
    • 29 centres and 1 mobile centre issuing vouchers: Over 23 800 vouchers given and over 1 400 rewards delivered
    • Several workshops for children: Recycle, Reutilise and play with the Tropa Verde to commemorate the European Environment Week
    • 100% growth of used oil recovery on civic centres during S1-2017, when compared to S1-2016
    • 12% increase in the number of visitors in the waste collection or green points

    The Municipality itself offers attractive gifts against Tropa Verde “stars” as well, including tickets for its Concert Hall, Theatre or European Film Festival (CinEuropa). But from the launch of the initiative, the most requested gifts are free invitations for 20 environmentally engaged citizens, to sit at the VIP “lounge”, together with the public authorities, and enjoy Santiago’s Apostle’s Fireworks, that take place on the 24th July at night!

    … and who knows? Hopefully thanks to the exchanges and learning activities among the Tropa Verde Transfer Network partners, green troopers from Guimarães will get discounts to support their local football team “Vitória” in the stadium thanks to recycling their batteries; citizens from Zugló will have free access to enjoy a relaxing spa session at Szechenyi Thermal Bath against the re-use of furniture; students from Pavlou Mela will collect used olive oil and be invited to the cinema, while kids from Opole will get an entrance to the local zoo thanks to their campaigns to recycle plastic caps, while neighbours from Nice who are alpine skiing aficionados might get a free lift pass to reward their re-use of Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste…

    What we know for sure is that they will all contribute to the European initiative of protecting our environment!


    Visit the network's page: Tropa Verde

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