Participatory Recycling



Move from industrial waste management to participatory recycling.

Beyond simplistic bilateral market-based approaches, and public-private partnerships. An open, participatory and ecosystemic approach.


Recycling is a wicked problem, i.e. a complex problem that cannot be addressed by simplistic market-based approaches, cannot be tackled by the city alone, nor by a partnership between the city and the private sector, without the active involvement of the public. A Private-Public-People(crowd) partnership approach, an ecosystemic approach is more promising.

Recycling requires solutions that at the same time touch on social, economic and technological aspects. It starts with the citizens, which need to be educated and motivated to do the initial material sorting and diminish the costs downstream, coupled with new participatory and collaborative economic models in order to incentivize their participation. When it comes to the transformation of recycled materials, this process requires economic, as well as technological solutions. Transformation of recycled materials can be performed by a diverse and more resilient network of private organizations, crowd-based entrepreneurial initiatives, with some involvement of public organizations. Open innovation methodologies can be used to discover new ways to process recycled materials, new economic models can be implemented to create synergy among different socioeconomic actors that intervene in the process.

The flow of recycled materials from households (as waste) back to households (as useful artifacts, materials, products) needs to be diverse, resilient, dynamic, following the interest of various actors, instead of monolithic and fixed, build on industrial era models.

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