Innovative waste management will play a key role in achieving a sustainable society if key actors work together, not in isolation from one another. Only through cooperation can we develop new business models and incentives that maximise value from waste, leading to expanded and stable markets for products and waste derived materials. The aim of the EU-funded project WASTECOSMART (Optimisation of integrated solid waste management strategies for the maximisation of resource efficiency) was to tackle the increasing amount of waste in Europe by finding strategies for maximising resource efficiency. Project partners strengthened and increased the innovation capacity of regional research-driven clusters through cooperation, research and technical development in the waste sector. A total of six research-driven triple-helix regions (representatives from the scientific world, businesses, and public authorities) from across Europe participated in the initiative. These were further strengthened through the mentoring of less developed regions. The team drew up a joint action plan (JAP) to improve resource efficiency within waste management, setting a common roadmap for future collaborative research activities. In addition, they adapted a decision support framework for stakeholders, shared case studies and best practices for optimised waste management and initiated pilots in all participating regions. New cross regional and interdisciplinary partnerships were also established both within Europe and in the international partner countries of Brazil, India and South Africa. All participants expressed strong interest in the topics covered by the project, especially with regard to the legal requirements for implementing the EU Waste Directive and the Circular Economy Package. WASTECOSMART therefore successfully promoted transitional cooperation of research-driven waste management clusters and assessed the regional and innovation needs within the waste management sector. It also supported less developed regions to unlock business opportunities in waste management in international markets.
Integrated waste management, sustainable society, WASTECOSMART, research-driven cluster, joint action plan