Antwerp as a European living lab for circular economy with Circular South
Circular South combines a series of district bound experimental initiatives that will bring into urban practice the circular economy. Spreading awareness and encouraging citizens to circular behavior is the focal point. The most sustainable district of Antwerp, New South, will play a leading role in this.
In the circular economy the life cycle from the raw material to a finished project is not linear, but circular. This means a maximized use of recycling and reusing materials and end products is enforced as much as possible.
Innovation in cooperation with the inhabitants of New South
During three years the inhabitants of New South will be intensely involved in the creation of a circular dynamic in the newest district of Antwerp. The inhabitants will be able to check their energy and water use online and learn how to use so called “sorteerstraatjes” (i.e. underground containers to collect waste). They will be invited to participate in competitions about deposit bottles, will be challenged to live without waste for 100 days and will be encouraged to make compost together in the district. In addition there will be experiments to synchronize the behaviors of inhabitants with the actual availability of natural resources. For example on days with lots of sun and wind it is of common public interest to use as much electricity as possible during the day. That instant the citizens will receive a message suggesting to use the washing machine. Everyone who follows the suggestion will receive a reward through an online applications, a reward with which they can buy circular products or services.
“New South evolves into the district of the future, which involves the reduction and smart use of waste. Smart technology will play a crucial role in making this accessible and user friendly to every citizen. With projects like this the city of Antwerp takes important steps towards the reduction of waste with a future oriented mind”, says municipal councilor for city and district maintenance Caroline Bastiaens.
Cooperation with Kringwinkel for a Community building
The city also co-invests together with Kringwinkel in a Community building. Apart from being a meeting spot, all sorts of services will be provided concerning repairing and reusing materials. Citizens can for example borrow tools or items for a party. Designers will also be present to turn old things into new beautiful designs. Additionally, inhabitants can create, repair or design things themselves, together with their kids or friends. Schools are invited to repair or design something new out of old materials as well.
Urban Innovative Action fund
The Urban Innovative Action fund is a European initiative that supports projects in different European cities. Urban environments are often confronted with complex challenges, forcing them to look beyond traditional policies. UIA provides the means to research urban challenges, find innovative solutions and check how these work in practice and how they respond to the complexity of real life. This specifically focuses on topics like job creation, migration, demography, water and soil contamination.
“Whether the project succeeds depends on the engagement of the citizens”, specifies municipal councilor for the human environment, Nabilla Ait Daoud. “The residents will be closely involved into the project itself. It is about a way of encouraging and stimulating a particular attitude, a sustainable awareness with benefits to all. The residents will see their energy bills cut down, but at the same time they’ll be rewarded for the waste they save. Additionally, many of the activities in the project, such as the Kringwinkel activities, will be open to all residents of the city who want to contribute to the circular economy”, says Ait Daoud.
Antwerp Circular South has a budget of 6.224.049 euros, of which the partners finance 20% themselves. As such the Urban Innovative Action funds of the European Commission invests 5 million euro in the project.
Partners of Circular South
The city of Antwerp is collaborating with different partners to realize these ambitions for Circular South. Together they develop new technologies to support the inhabitants as much as possible. EnergieID will make the website which contains all information about the use of energy, water and waste/materials. iMec will stimulate users to smarter use their energy, water and ‘waste/materials’ by sending them proposals at a right time. Digipolis makes sure the online platform, where users can check their own usage in real-time, is linked to the A-profile of the city. Ecopower, in cooperation with EnergyVille and the citizens of New South, founds a sustainable energy cooperation for which a big sustainable installation will be placed on and in several buildings to provide energy.
Another partner we must not lose sight of is the inhabitant. The inhabitants are the ones to shape the project. Experience expert Pantopicon ensures the orderly management: “Providing insights into people’s behavior by means of smart technology is one thing, but adjusting their behavior is another. This remains, however, one of the main ambitions of Circular South: serve the community of district users in shaping new technologies which can ‘nudge’ them or stimulate them to use materials, energy and water in a more sustainable way.”