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Rewarding re-use and recycling

Bringing together citizens and businesses for a more environmentally friendly society
Zugló / Hungary
Size of city: 
125 000 inhabitants


Fejer Mate
Project Coordinator
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Based on Santiago De Compostela’s good practice, Zugló launched its own local platform, accessible via the now international Through a reward system, and partnering with local businesses, citizens are encouraged to recycle.

Solutions offered by the good practice

Zugló, one of Budapest’s 23 districts, has a reputation for clean, safe streets and good transportation. Attracting a diverse mix of residents, the area is seeing considerable development, including new housing for young families. But this increasing population density means growing levels of waste to deal with.

The district’s waste is managed by a company (FKF) publicly owned by the City of Budapest. Before Tropa Verde, FKF already ran two modern Re-use and Educational Centres, where people could drop off useful old objects and which were frequently visited by school groups.

However, still about half of all collected waste went to a huge landfill site, and another sizeable proportion was incinerated. Only about 10 percent of municipal waste was collected separately by households and recycled by various companies. Tropa Verde was a chance for Zugló to take a fresh approach to encouraging citizens to recycle more.

First, a survey of citizens’ attitudes, habits, motivations and needs gave Zugló a basis to plan their new recycling reward scheme, adapting Santiago De Compostela’s platform to their own context. Next, they developed a clear online map enabling residents to find the right recycling facility for a range of waste items.

With support from the web company who developed Santiago De Compostela’s original ‘Tropaverde’ platform, Zugló launched its own local platform, accessible via the now international Just like Santiago De Compostela’s, this links in to an awards, or hulladék.pont, system, involving a whole network of local partners.

At designated ‘green points’, citizens can get a coupon with a code in exchange for the recyclable or reusable items they drop off. There are also rewards for composting. Points can then be redeemed on Zugló’s Tropa Verde platform – and spent in shops and organisations who have agreed to sponsor the programme.

Sustainable and integrated urban approach

The rewards system is an important way of engaging with both businesses and citizens about the environment. To further promote the initiative, the Municipality of Zugló launched a campaign to promote recycling jointly with FKF. And there have been environmental education events in festivals, children’s camps and schools. Other efforts have included a competition to collect batteries and used electronic devices, and a partnership with the Jane Goodall Foundation to collect used mobile phones.

As the project supports a much wider environmental management strategy, Zugló has benefited from strong political involvement, with the Deputy Mayor a key advocate for the activities throughout.

Participatory approach

The URBACT Local Group was particularly active in awareness-raising, thanks to their diverse members from cultural and sports institutions, the city’s philharmonic orchestra – and even Budapest’s Zoo, which is in Zugló. The Tropa Verde project was presented at the Budapest Gastro Festival, where the interested could not only get information about the project, but also get involved in the program by disposing glass waste. Prior to the Covid pandemic, in 2020, experts from the municipality and project partners visited the children's day camps in Zugló several times to raise awareness about conscious waste disposal, recycling and project goals as part of awareness-raising events. Following the pandemic period the municipality, together with a number of local NGOs, launched an online series of programs where participants could learn the tricks of composting in urban and apartment environment through entertaining, playful sessions, or even build an insect hotel. They got to know how to replace disposable packaging with durable solutions in the kitchen, bathroom, learned about clothing repair and recycling practices, and also about the impact of our meals and purchased foods on our environment.

It has to be underlined that Zugló’s implementation of the project, that started very successfully, has been strongly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and early 2021, as it interfered with all their plans, and forced to cancel promotional events and gather more sponsors.

Zugló planned to bring the program to local and residential events and festivals, while persuading companies of joining the project. They updated the flyers and created a banner to put on the entrance of joining companies to show that they are part of our program.

As part of long-term planning, Zugló created a communication plan, and launched the GP by using a mix of offline and online tools.

Towards the future, as a change, Zugló plans to most be present in more events and to include more companies, to guarantee the success and sustainability of the solution.

For such purpose, a database for those companies that could potentially be involved was created, and Zugló intended to contact them during the lockdown.

To summarize, Zugló has struggled to get sponsors to join the project and even those who joined had to close for business before even starting to accept coupons.

What difference has it made

At the start of the program, 6 waste disposal sites participated in the program, which we later wanted to supplement with a minimum of 10 pharmacies and 2 donation shops, but this plan unfortunately failed due to the pandemic situation.

In 2020, we reached about 200 elementary school students at our attitude-forming events. In the spring of 2021, we ran various awareness-raising campaigns and reached more than 6,000 people on the municipality's Internet channels.

Within the framework of the campaign, we promoted the 2 waste disposal sites included in the program for 2 weeks with the participation of FKF, where we drew 6 horticultural vouchers among the participants.

In an online lecture for local residents, a specialist from FKF gave a lecture on the ways of waste management in the capital with the participation of 30 interested people. In May, we held attitude-forming online programs with the participation of 5 civil organizations, 9 times, with the participation with a total of about 200 people. In cooperation with FKF, we held attitude-forming sessions in 9 kindergartens with the participation of about 1,000 children. The map containing the waste disposal sites created under the project has so far been used by almost 3,000 people.

Transferring the practice

Meetings with partner cities – including an event in Budapest in June 2018 – were great opportunities to exchange experiences and learn from each other, which enabled Zugló to identify similar problems in waste management and learn new skills to tackle them.

The aim is now to get more residents involved post-COVID and hopefully to roll out the programme across all districts of Budapest.

The hope is that each area of the city will set up its own URBACT-style local group, involving local sponsors across the city to promote the circular economy.