Results and impact of the TRANSFORM citizen science pilot in the new selective waste collection system in Mollet del Vallés
Citizens have a key role in political decision-making and the TRANSFORM pilot project is a clear example of this. Yesterday, the Catalan cluster that has led this citizen science pilot project, presented the results and conclusions to members of the Mollet del Vallés council, to contribute to the improvement of the municipal selective waste collection system.
The TRANSFORM project brings together three European regions (Lombardy, Brussels capital and Catalonia) to experiment with different innovative participatory methodologies. Specifically, in Catalonia a citizen science pilot has been carried out in the city of Mollet del Vallès to contribute to improving the selective collection of municipal waste. The Catalan cluster has used citizen science as an instrument to move towards a greener, more digital, resilient and fairer socioeconomic model.
For this pilot project, “Dilemma R“, a digital game on waste was co-designed as a tool to inform citizens about innovative selective collection systems (smart containers and door-to-door waste collection) and, in turn, gather their preferences and barriers when implementing them. In the design process, a participatory model has been followed, based on co-design methodologies, involving the maximum number of actors involved.
This process was carried out through a total of four sessions in which different profiles of citizens of Mollet, different departments of the city council and the students of the Degree in Management of Smart and Sustainable Cities of the UAB participated. Later, the digital development of the game proceeded.
Once “Dilemma R” had been created, 60 students from four educational centres in Mollet (Institut Vicenç Plantada, Escola Sant Gervasi, Center d’Estudis Mollet and Escola Anselm Clavé) put it into practice with their families and with citizens at street level to collect enough information to process and analyse it.
Through this app, it has been possible to collect evaluations, preferences and barriers of citizens regarding innovative selective collection systems. In addition, this tool has also had a double impact: on the one hand, it has increased public awareness of these innovative waste collection systems, and on the other, it has contributed to generating active awareness of the environmental impact of waste, contributing to co-responsibility.
With the “Dilemma R” game, 402 valid responses from the citizens of Mollet have been collected; The results make it possible to identify trends that serve as a guide for the city council in making decisions on how to implement a new waste collection system.
As a result of these answers, a results report has been prepared that has included the recommendations made both by the professional research team and by the Mollet students themselves. 10 conclusions stand out:
Degree of knowledge of citizens about the waste collection system
- Knowledge about innovative systems is low and knowledge about the current selective collection system does not reach 50%.
- The vast majority of people who have declared they have no prior knowledge on the subject, have acquired it through Dilemma R.
General preference of citizens for smart containers or for the door-to-door system
- The vast majority of people surveyed have opted for smart containers.
- As an exception, in the Santa Rosa neighbourhood, the preference for door-to-door delivery and smart containers is very similar.
Relevance that different variables may have as barriers or facilitators of the adoption of the new systems by citizens
- Most of the people surveyed are sensitive to the environmental issue and in favour of receiving economic incentives for the use of new systems, despite the fact that this implies limitations to their privacy (that the city council has more information about the recycling practices of each person) or practicality (for example, time or calendar limitations when disposing of rubbish).
- Economic incentives seem to have a greater potential as facilitators of the adoption of the new systems than the environmental benefit, except when faced with the possibility that the new systems generate more dirt on the street.
- There is a similar number of people who choose to receive economic incentives at the individual level and at the collective or community level
- Privacy limitations have not emerged as a very relevant aspect when opposed to environmental benefits, much less when opposed to economic incentives.
- There are two aspects of practicality that deserve attention as possible barriers to implementation: 1) the time and calendar limitation associated with the door-to-door system; 2) the possibility that the new systems will generate more dirt on the street.
- For people aged 65 or over, the complexity of using a card or a mobile phone to activate the containers appears as a more relevant barrier than having to adapt to a schedule or a calendar.
Impact on public policies of Mollet
As a result of these conclusions, the Mollet students and the professional research team involved in the project have drawn up a series of recommendations associated with the conclusions of the study. These recommendations range from the development of information and environmental education campaigns, to proposals for the implementation of economic incentives to increase the separation of waste, through the design of specific actions to support the elderly in the use of the new systems.
Raúl Broto, First Deputy Mayor of Mollet del Vallès
As proof that citizen science can have an impact on public policies, on June 28 the Mollet del Vallés city council approved the new contract for cleaning public space and waste collection for the next 5 years. The objective of this new contract is to intensify street cleaning and increase the selective collection of the municipality to 60% in 2030, complying with European regulations.
Some of the proposals from the pilot that have been evaluated and incorporated into the new contract for the city’s waste collection service are, for example, implementation of smart containers in some neighbourhoods of the city or the need to use additional resources to avoid littering the street due to uncivil practices.