Invasive alien plant species are one of the biggest challenges in European ecosystems. They displace local vegetation, destroy agricultural land and cause damage to European economy in billions of euros every year. Many of them are daily removed and mainly burned.
In Slovenia there are no special landfills for invasive alien plant species, so all collected biomass is taken to incinerators. Ljubljana, as a “Zero waste City”, recognized the potential of setting up a systematic participatory model which uses collected biomass to develop new sustainable products. One of the biggest challenges will be to develop successful and trustworthy circular economy models, finding new use for all parts of collected IAPS and upcycling the residual materials.
The project introduces a completely new approach to the challenge. Invasive alien plant species (IAPS) are considered a RESOURCE and starting point of a NEW BUSINESS MODEL: through large-scale educational and awareness raising campaigns citizens are encouraged to participate in IAPS harvesting and use. Collected IAPS feed three main ways of their further transformation that is performed at home (e.g. food, dyes), at tutored workshops (e.g. to produce wood or paper products) and in craftsman laboratories (e.g. to manufacture innovative products with market potential in social enterprises, employing vulnerable groups).
New green technologies are introduced (e.g. pilot enzymatic processing of IAPS fibers instead of chemical, reuse of wastes generated during primary wood processing and paper production, transformation of residues into liquefied wood, development of biotech-based biorafinery device for the conversion of liquor, production of 3D novel bio-composites, production of dyes, production of IAPS colored coatings, development of a model of IAPS’s dye based solar cell and development of home-made formulations against plant harmful organisms).
ICT technology is used to address target groups and to produce open data, new knowledge and develop new services like IAPS monitoring with data from aerial orthophotos and Sentinel-2 satellites.
- City of Ljubljana
- SNAGA - waste management public utility
- University of Ljubljana
- Jozef Stefan Institute
- National Institute of Chemistry and Pulp
- Paper Institute
- Company for arboriculture and forestry (TISA)
- GDi GISDATA d.o.o. Ljubljana
- Centre of Excellence for Space Sciences and Technologies (SPACE-SI)
- Association for the development of sustainable design (TRAJNA)
- TipoRenesansa - NGO
Ljubljana, as a “Zero waste City”, recognizes the potential of setting up a systematic participatory model which uses IAPS biomass to develop new sustainable products. Instead of burning the collected IAPS in incinerators, we are focusing on controlling the IAPS population by developing a circular production processes, thus increasing the resilience of local economies and ecologies. The project is an on-going and interdisciplinary process. Educational function (at least 2,350 citizens trained how to identify, collect and process IAPS) is highly emphasized, requiring the inclusion of the widest range of Stakeholders.
Although the benefits will not be immediately shown (the project should be considered as an attempt to change habits), here are some of the concrete expected results of the project:
- Citizens will be made aware of IAPS’ identification, collection and potential through an information and awareness campaign and dedicated participatory activities.
- A public IT platform for identification and lifelong IAPS monitoring System will be established.
- New greener and nonconventional processes and techniques will be used to produce paper from IAPS by using enzymes. More than 45.000 kg of IAPS will be collected as raw material for wood and paper production and new high added-value products will be generated as by-products during this transformation process.
- IAPS will be recognised and used as useful resources for food, dyes and home-made formulations against plant harmful organisms.
- A Circular Business model will have been developed and implemented in the City of Ljubljana.
May 2018: IAPS collecting point within the Povšetova collection centre is established.
November 2018: Craftsman workshop for paper production is established within the Povšetova collection centre. First workshops for citizens are carried out.
November 2019: A “Do it yourself” catalogue is designed which contains open-source plans, recipes and tips for harvesting and creative use of the IAPS.
December 2019: First new paper and wood products are produced and ready to be tested at potential clients.
May 2020: Platform for the identification and life-long monitoring of IAPS is established. The developed Platform consists of back-office applications and public application that both work upon the same, unified database. The platform allows users to work on mobile devices or office computers.
October 2020: Project playbook as a comprehensive document is prepared. The playbook defines in detailed and structured way what the City needs in order to put project idea in practice. Essential input materials and resources are determined, project management approach and outputs of the expected results is described in details.
“The reorientation from linear to circular in the future will have a significant impact not only in individual business models, but will change our way of thinking, our economic and social system. If we learn to use and consume less, and also implement the principles of sharing economy, we and our environment will both be the winners.”