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Tropa Verde, rewarding recycling!

Boosting environmental responsibility through gaming and rewarding
Santiago De Compostela / Spain
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Size of city: 
95 966 inhabitants


Xan Duro
Environment counselor
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Tropa Verde is a multimedia platform set up by Santiago de Compostela (ES) to encourage environmentally responsible behaviour. Using a game-based web platform, citizens can win recycling vouchers and exchange them for rewards from the City Council and local retailers.
The project started after a 2015 survey showed that many inhabitants were reluctant to recycle due to habit and a lack of information. In under two years, recycling has soared: more than 115 local sponsors have delivered 800 rewards, from hotel accommodations to beauty treatments. Citizens received these gifts or discounts in exchange for 16,000 "recycling actions" in social and civic centres and green points.
There are also workshops, street actions and other promotional activities. School campaigns have collected thousands of litres of used cooking oil and 3,299 electric appliances. Today, Tropa Verde is active in at least six cities.

The solutions offered by the good practice

Tropa Verde is a multimedia platform that aims at promoting recycling and environmental responsibility among the citizens by rewarding good environmental practices; increasing recycling rates; promoting the environmental awareness of the citizenship applying gaming and rewarding techniques. It uses a game-based web platform at where citizens can exchange recycling points for rewards from the City Council and local retailers. The website connects the elements necessary to achieve the objective: the places where citizens can dispose of waste and where they will be rewarded if they do so (green points, civic and social centres, recovery points, etc.), and local businesses that collaborate by providing gifts or discounts, such as retailers, restaurants, outdoor activities and shops. For successful implementation, all players are required. Tropa Verde is led by Santiago de Compostela, developed by local technology company Teimas Desenvolvemento, and now adopted by more than six cities.

Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

Tropa Verde Santiago has been a success, tested and validated, and deserves to be shared so that more cities can adopt it. Tropa Verde has the support of more than 115 local retailers and food establishments and of 2,500 committed citizens who have done 16,000 recycling actions in civic and social centres and green points, getting 800 rewards from the local businesses.
In the school campaigns, a total of 2,356 litres of used cooking oil and 3,299 electrical and electronic appliances were collected, thanks to the participation of 2,416 students. Under the technological umbrella of Tropa Verde, groups of citizens develop their own recycling challenges.
The web platform is becoming a civic movement fully committed to sustainability, environmental awareness and the circular economy. Tropa Verde faces 2017 extending its dynamics to collectives and schools who care for a greener city in a healthy competition, since they are good practices which cities can easily adapt to their local circumstances.

Based on a participatory approach

There is a strong involvement of local stakeholders in the development and implementation of the practice in Tropa Verde. The collaborating entities in this project are: Santiago's City Council; civic and local social centres; Urbaser, the municipal solid waste (MSW) management company; and Teimas Desenvolvemento, in charge of the technological side of the project as well as the promotion and the marketing plan.
Local sponsors include retailers, restaurants, shops and other businesses; and the citizens of Santiago de Compostela. Schools participate in environmental education campaigns.

What difference has it made?

In just a year and a half we have obtained: high citizen participation, with over 2,500 users; 115 sponsors; 1,500 rewards offered; more than €15,000 in prizes and rewards; 22 centres issuing vouchers; over 16,000 vouchers given; more than 1,230 Facebook followers; more than 440 Twitter followers; and over 800 rewards delivered.
There have been several workshops for children: Recycle, Reutilise and Play with Tropa Verde to commemorate the European Environment Week and two school campaigns "Recycling at school is rewarded". The campaign consists of the collection of used cooking oil and electrical and electronic appliances involving 20 different educational centres, with a total of 2,416 students. In the school campaigns, a total of 2,356 litres of used cooking oil and 3,299 electrical and electronic appliances were collected.
From the beginning of the initiative, the involvement of citizens towards recycling has been highly increased, with a higher volume of visitors at the waste collection points. Tropa Verde's initiative has improved environmental quality and, consequently, the citizens’ quality of life, while at the same time promoting the local economy.

Why should other European cities use it?

Tropa Verde can be replicated in any other city. In fact, there are several municipalities in Spain interested in both the platform and the different environmental awareness campaigns carried out in schools in the city. The causes of this great interest are: promotion of trade, saving of the costs of waste management, increased recycling in the city in which it is implemented, environmental education in schools and associations, and great acceptance by the citizens and private and public entities.
For all these reasons, Tropa Verde is expanding. It is active in six different City Councils of Galicia (autonomous Spanish region): Redondela, Lugo, Ames, Sarria, Porriño and Santiago de Compostela, which means more than 300,000 inhabitants throughout Galicia.