Entries by Špela Gutnik

CIRCLOCAL – Interregional workshop for Circular Economy

In cooperation with the Municipality of Novo mesto, Circular Shield participated in the CIRCLOCAL project, funded by the European Union’s COSME Programme. The main objective of this project is to stimulate Circular Economy and Circular Public Procurement through interregional learning, action-oriented workshops, and community-building.

 

Local communities from three EU countries connected for sharing their knowledge and best practices - the Portuguese Regiao de Coimbra, the Dutch Leeuwarden and Frysland's and the Slovenian Municipality of Novo mesto.

At the event, led by the Municipality Novo mesto on October 6 and 7, Circular Shield presented both - the local Municipal Material Cycle (MMC) and the recently implemented joint green and circular public procurement of hygiene paper for local public institutions in Novo mesto.

 

Their achievements in the field of circular economy were shared also by Knof Institute, Utility/Waste management company, Association for Development of Voluntary Work, kindergarten Pedenjped, Secondary school of Electrical Engineering and Technical Gymnasium, Slovenian Forestry Institute, Chamber of Commerce of Dolenjska and Bela krajina and the Municipality of Maribor.

 

Based on presented materials from these institutions, we have even strengthened our belief that circular economy can be the answer to many of environmental, economic and social challenges that we are facing today.

Municipality Novo mesto with the highest share of members involved

The municipality of Novo mesto (MONM) is becoming an example for green and circular public procurement. 21 public institutions and companies, including the Municipality of Novo mesto, have come together to joint public procurement of hygienic paper made from used beverage cartons – locally called KEMSO.

 

The contract for the supply of hygienic paper was signed by the Mayor of The Municipality of Novo Mesto Gregor Macedoni MA and CEO of Valtex d. o. o., Špela Redjko.

 

It is an upgrade of the circular economy project from 2015, when the local municipal material cycle of UBC and hygiene paper was first established in Novo mesto. Due to the good references and experience of the first users, the municipality decided to invite the remaining municipal institutions to join the project.

 

With this green and circular public procurement tender MONM sets an example and encourages public institutions to undertake the performance of such projects more courageously and to design products and services according to the circular economy principles. It is in common interest to protect our environment and to enable the reuse (locally) collected packaging and waste.

 

As the mayor Gregor Macedoni told, with today's signing, the MONM is actualizing its to become a leading local community in the field of circular economy. "With this green and circular joint public procurement, we ensure a large share of hygiene paper from reused local packaging waste in our public institutions" the mayor added. At the signing, he also explained that potential suppliers were evaluated according to two criteria – the price and 'zero waste'. The selected supplier offered the lowered price and also matched the 'zero waste' criteria. This price offer provides lower costs for majority of institutions involved – so this confirms the thesis that green decisions are not necessarily more expensive.

 

The CEO of Valtex, Špela Redjko, pointed out that they were proud that they were identified as the most appropriate partner in the project. She added: "We are committed to a sustainable business. The mission of our company is to help our partners in the gradual or immediate transition to sustainable solutions and increasing the safety and well-being of their employees, visitors and other users. In product selection, we follow the guide to achieve the best results and to create positive effects for both - the environment and the wider community, and to co-create a place for a healthy living."

 

Green and circular public procurement is also a popular theme at European level, where MONM as a partner participates in the European project CircLocal, which aims to exchange good practices also in the field of circular public procurement. Across Europe, the focus of public procurement is on preventing corruption and ensuring the lowest prices of goods and services supplied, and the project partners point out that new standards need to be put in place in the area of public procurement that will promote innovation, a circular economy and target social and environmental objectives. As part of the project, the municipality has set up a local network of organizations that are active in the field of circular economy and is preparing an international workshop, where, among other things, it will present this case as a good example of green and circular public procurement.

Circular Shield – Circular Economy Frontrunner

Our Municipal Material Cycle project was presented in the CIRCULAR INSIDER publication, together with other Slovenian and European circular economy frontrunners. It is the special issue, providing a guide through circular and sustainable practices in Slovenia and beyond.

 

The Circular Insider magazine was issued in conjuctuion with the Slovenian EU Council Presidency, startin in July 2021. It aims to be a source of inspiration for decision makers and to bring the concept of the circular economy closer to general public. Through presentations of practical examples and interviews, Circular Insider can be an excellent inspiration to anyone looking to implement their "circular model."

 

Circular Insider – a quick date with circular economy frontrunners – was designed and published by the Circular Change team of experts. The full content of the publication is available here: https://www.circularchange.com/circular-insider.

 

An article on the Municipal Material Cycles, managed by our company, is presented on pages 38-39.

 

Next stop – Slovakia!

The Municipal Material Cycle of beverage cartons and hygiene paper, which already operates successfully in 15 Slovene municipalities, will soon come to life in Slovakia. Ivona Urbanova has been chosen to take over the position of National Coordinator of the project in Slovakia to ensure the establishment and development of this important circular economy program. Ivona Urbanova is an environmental expert and independent waste management consultant. She has many years of experience in developing new solutions in waste management - as sales manager in international waste management company FCC in Slovakia and later as an independent consultant, she worked closely with industry and municipalities to help them on the path to sustainable development and circular solutions in the field of waste.

As national coordinator for Slovakia, Ivona Urbanova will be responsible for the establishment and development of Municipal Material Cycles as well as the acquisition of supporters and members in the participating municipalities. One of the most important roles of this circular economy program is to raise awareness of the municipal government, institutions, and local public, that they can encourage more sustainable development of their community and thus positively impact the development of the local community, the economy and the environment in the long term.

The municipal material cycle of beverage cartons and hygiene paper packaging can be set up in any municipality or city in the EU that has a municipal waste separation system in place. Therefore, we plan to expand the MMC area also to other interested EU countries.

Next stop – Slovakia!

The Municipal Material Cycle of beverage cartons and hygiene paper, which already operates successfully in 15 Slovene municipalities, will soon come to life in Slovakia. Ivona Urbanova has been chosen to take over the position of National Coordinator of the project in Slovakia to ensure the establishment and development of this important circular economy program. Ivona Urbanova is an environmental expert and independent waste management consultant. She has many years of experience in developing new solutions in waste management - as sales manager in international waste management company FCC in Slovakia and later as an independent consultant, she worked closely with industry and municipalities to help them on the path to sustainable development and circular solutions in the field of waste.

As national coordinator for Slovakia, Ivona Urbanova will be responsible for the establishment and development of Municipal Material Cycles as well as the acquisition of supporters and members in the participating municipalities. One of the most important roles of this circular economy program is to raise awareness of the municipal government, institutions, and local public, that they can encourage more sustainable development of their community and thus positively impact the development of the local community, the economy and the environment in the long term.

The municipal material cycle of beverage cartons and hygiene paper packaging can be set up in any municipality or city in the EU that has a municipal waste separation system in place. Therefore, we plan to expand the MMC area also to other interested EU countries.

Waste packaging can and should be reused

One tone of waste paper can save 17 adult trees. On average, 75 % of beverage carton packaging consists of cardboard (cellulose) which can be transformed into high quality hygienic paper products.

Circular Shield is the initiator of a local circular economy program – Municipal Material Cycle – where we collect and recycle already more than 5 % of total annual national used beverage cartons. This is a very good example of the circular economy in local communities, which is successfully implemented in 15 Slovenian municipalities, covering more than fifth of population. One of the key stakeholders of the project is DINOS, company for secondary raw material preparation, that understands the importance of reusing waste materials and is known in Slovenia for a number of good practices, from collecting waste paper in kindergartens and schools, to collecting waste plastic bottles and some humanitarian projects.

Since the quantity of municipal waste in Slovenia is increasing, circular economy practices are becoming even more important. Both companies – Circular Shield and Dinos work hard on implementing circular economy solutions and raising the awareness of the importance of proper waste management among public.

Beverage cartons are sustainable packaging solution

ACE, The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, and its members SIG Combibloc, BillerudKorsnäs, Elopak, Stora Enso and Tetra Pak, have set the industry’s vision for the future. They claim to deliver the most sustainable packaging for resilient food supply systems which is renewable, climate positive and circular.

Through its robust and ambitious Roadmap, the industry commits to take action on all parts of the industry value chain, from sustainable sourcing to climate impact and recycling. Increasing the collection and recycling of beverage cartons to reach a 90% collection rate and at least a 70% recycling rate by 2030, and the decarbonisation of the industry’s value chain in line with the 1.5o C aligned science-based targets are included in the ten commitments.

In line with the vision of ACE members, beverage cartons will be:

  • made only from renewable and /or recycled material
  • fully recyclable and recycled
  • made entirely from sustainably sourced raw materials
  • the packaging solution with the lowest carbon footprint

Beverage cartons are a recyclable low carbon packaging solution that protects food and beverages, allowing their safe use and transport while also preventing food waste. With the commitments and targets set in the 2030 Roadmap, the industry will strive for its packaging to continue to actively contribute towards the ambitions of the EU Green Deal, specifically climate neutrality, circularity, biodiversity and resilient food systems, while never compromising the health and safety of consumers.

Municipal material cycles of used beverage cartons and hygiene paper

In Slovenia, we recycle app 5,5% of used beverage carton in a single circular economy project, named Municipal material cycle. These are closed material loops of used beverage cartons, collected by households and institutions in certain municipalities and hygiene paper products that are made of them for the same local community from collected UBCs.

The project is active in 15 municipalities in Slovenia, where waste management is handled by Voka Snaga Ljubljana, Komunala Novo mesto, Komunala Brežice and Komunala Kranj.

 

Important facts about beverage cartons

The material

Beverage cartons are made of (on average, by weight):

  • 75% paperboard, a renewable material when the forests are managed responsibly
  • 20% polymers, mostly polyethylene, to prevent leakage
  • 5% aluminium, to protect drinks from light and oxygen

Beverage cartons recycling

Paper fibres from beverage cartons are highly desirable as a source of recovered fibre. After collection and sorting, the material is sent to paper recycling mills with dedicated equipment, where the beverage cartons are recycled in a process where water and agitation separate the paper fibres from the plastic and aluminium. The process of cleaning the materials is chemical-free; cellulose fibres are being sterilized by steam on 120 oC.

UBC can be recycled into new, high quality hygiene paper products, such as tissues, handkerchiefs and toilet paper. This way we protect wood and forests, valuable natural source.

Polymers and aluminium (PolyAl) are handled as a separate material stream, used within the construction and other industries.

Circularity Assessment Score: we are Circular Frontrunners

We celebrate the Earth Day on April 22nd and we find this a good opportunity to rethink our everyday practices and lifestyle - how do we act as individuals (or the company) in terms of the use of resources? Let’s ask ourselves, what is our attitude toward the environment, how much food do we put to waste, how much waste and waste packaging do we “produce” per month or how much energy do we use? Is there something that we could change?

Given that in Slovenia, we use 3 times as many natural resources as we have available, we believe it is necessary to rethink our behavior and habits.

Circular Shield team is working with municipalities and waste management companies – we help them build and manage circular economy programs in their local communities. At this year’s Earth Day we decided to assess our circularity and check our current status.

Using the Circularity Assessment Score* method, which combines several factors, such as: renewable sources, product/service design, use of waste as resources, digitalization ... our Circularity Assessment Score is 84.6 (out of 100).

This places us high on a scale of circular frontrunners. We are happy to get such a rewarding result, however we will continue to work on improving our circular practices in the future.

The Circularity Assessment Score helps us understand the current level of circularity in our organization and processes. By using such tools, we can reveal potential circular opportunities and measure our progress.

*Check your Circularity Assessment Score: https://www.circularbusiness.academy/

Public supports municipal material cycles; people are proud that their local public institutions and companies use recycled hygiene paper

We researched the impact of municipal material cycles in MMC Novo mesto municipalities. The results show a very high level of environmental awareness, with over 70% agreement on importance of environment preservation activities. People are concerned about their local waste management activities and practices.

The research also shows that almost everyone in MMC Novo mesto (99%) supports the use of recycled hygiene paper from local material cycle to be used in public institutions and companies.

The research was conducted by Mediana research agency, took place in 8 municipalities that forms MMC Novo mesto (Novo mesto, Dolenjske Toplica, Mirna Peč, Straža, Šentjernej, Škocjan, Šmarješke Toplice and Žužemberk). 404 respondents were interviewed, half of them thru web panel and the other half over the phone. There were 100 public institution employees included in the research - they are actual users of recycled hygiene paper products. We asked them for more detailed quality assessment of our products – multipurpose towels, handkerchiefs, and toilet paper.

We were testing the colour, absorbance, touch and feel and general quality compared to regular (not recycled) products. On the scale from 1 to 5, all our products were given high likeability scores on all tested characteristics – the highest ranked was the absorbance (4.0), followed by the colour (3.9), touch & feel and general quality (3.8).

Respondents of the research expressed very high (over 90%) awareness and concern for natural environment. The results show that over 80% of population in these municipalities highly appreciate individuals and organizations that are active in saving the environment. Over 80% of population already separate waste packaging, but they claim to put even more attention to beverage carton waste separation in the future, because of the MMC project. 90% of the population believe that such projects as municipal material cycle of waste beverage carton and recycled hygiene paper are important for environmental protection and they support the idea that local public institutions prefer purchase of those materials.

10 Slovenian municipalities are transforming their waste UBC into hygiene paper products for their public facilities

The amount of waste generated in Slovenia is constantly growing, as well as the amount of municipal waste. So, it is very important to develop a strategy of municipal waste management – at least for waste that can be reused or recycled. Very good example is used beverage cartons, that can be collected and transformed to high quality hygiene paper products.

Instead of using primary resources (wood), the recycled hygiene paper is made of cellulose from used beverage cartons, that Slovenian residents dispose in yellow waste containers.

Material cycles of used beverage cartons and recycled hygiene paper are successfully operating in 10 Slovenian municipalities: Ljubljana, Novo mesto, Brežice, Mirna Peč, Žužemberk, Dolenjske Toplice, Škocjan, Šentjernej, Straža, Šmarješke Toplice. More than 18% of Slovenian population lives in the participating municipalities.

Used beverage cartons leave these municipalities as a waste and return back transformed to a useful high quality hygiene paper products. These recycled paper products are then used in public institutions (municipal offices, schools, kindergartens, healthy centres, cultural and sports facilities, libraries, etc.) and some private companies in the same municipalities where the waste were collected. By today, these municipalities have collected and transformed over 640 tons of used beverage cartons.

Our aim is to replicate this practice soon on a large scale across Slovenia. This circular economy case would help Slovenia to improve its municipal waste recycling rate.