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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: 
97 260 inhabitants


Milagros Castro Sánchez
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 had soared: more than 115 local sponsors had 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 were 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 directly aims at encouraging and increasing re-using and recycling, bringing up significant savings for the cities and contributing to efficiency in the use of the resources and to the improvement of environmental quality, fully in line with the objectives of the EU2020 Strategy and its Resource Efficiency Flagship Initiative.
Its benefits are clear for the municipalities and other stakeholders:
• It encourages re-use and recycling, facilitates efficient waste collection, and reduces waste disposed, which brings savings for the councils.
• It facilitates compliance with the Waste Framework Directive and Circular Economy related Directives, allowing increasing rates of reduction, reuse and recycling of waste.
• It facilitates recycling, increasing the number of collection points for some waste products that are especially difficult to collect, such as used cooking oil or electrical and electronic equipment.
• It reduces the environmental impact and the costs associated with waste management.
• It has a positive impact on the citizen behavior, as it offers direct rewards to environmental responsible actions.
• From a political perspective, thanks to its innovative and participatory approach, it offers a great potential of visibility of the environmental efforts carried out by the municipalities

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?

Tropa Verde has been implemented in this city since 2015 with great success: 4065 users in 5 years, with 29 recycling points located throughout the city and issuing vouchers; over; 150 sponsors; 2,302 rewards offered; more than €15,000 in prizes and rewards; over 15,168 vouchers given; close to 2000 Facebook followers; more than 820 Twitter followers; and over 1500 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.

Transferring the practice

Santiago de Compostela led the Tropa Verde Network over 2.5 years, transferring its practices to 5 other cities: Guimarães (Portugal), Dimos Pavlou Mela (Greece), Urban Community Nice Côte d'Azur (France), Opole Agglomeration (Poland) and Zugló (Hungary). You can, in particular, check Zugló ‘s Good practice here. The approach was based on 2 stages: the Core transfer learning stage (Understanding and adapting), the mature stage – Reuse (testing), covering the stages followed by Santiago for its own process.