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Iasi, Romania

Improve waste-management practice (IAS0002)



Action Plan: Iași, Romania Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active


Lead Institution: Iași Municipality - Open Government Office/ Compartment/ Staff

Support Institution(s): Salubris SA, Waste Management Company Zero Waste working Group, OGP MultiStakeholder Forum Iași working group

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Environment and Climate, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Subnational, Water and Sanitation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Pending IRM Review

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Pending IRM Review

Relevant to OGP Values: Pending IRM Review

Potential Impact: Pending IRM Review

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review


Lead implementing agency/actor:
Iași Municipality - Open Government Office/ Compartment/ Staff

Other stakeholders involved:
Salubris SA, Waste Management Company
Zero Waste working Group, OGP MultiStakeholder Forum Iași working group

What is the public problem that the commitment will
Romania is one of the states with the lowest recycling rate in Europe. According to
ANPM, only 10% of the waste is recycled, with the remaining of 80% being deposited
and 10% incinerated. According to the most recent study on waste management in
Romania (Mușuroaea, Oberdorfer, & Mușuroaea, 2017), the city of Iasi produces
88.881 tons of trash yearly. It is estimated that by 2025 we will produce twice as
much waste, with the European Union average reaching 1.3 billion tons per year.
European objectives focused on circular economy aim to reach a recycling rate of
65% of municipal waste, reduce the landfill volume to hold only 10% of waste, and
reuse or recycle 75% of packaging, all by 2030.

Iasi joined the international network called “Zero Waste Cities” in February 2017,
being the first Romanian municipality to aim at implementing the “zero waste”
provision. Iasi has already implemented approximately 25% of the measures, the
greatest majority of which were within the legislative framework. The rest of the
measures were not sufficiently addressed, and they include the following objectives:
reduce waste disposal by 30%, increase the recycling rate by 20%, increase the
compost of biowaste by 20%, generate less than 50 kg of mixed waste per capita, all by 2020. A vicious circle is perpetuated by the low level of awareness in regards with
the utility and necessity of waste collection at source within the city’s population.

For example, because the citizens of Iasi do not use the appropriate public trash
bins, the Waste Management Service is not able to separately collect waste (paper,
plastic, metal, glass, etc.) either. The few citizens from Iasi who use a selective
waste system in their households declare they are discouraged by the fact the Waste
Management Service empties all the public bins in the same car, making people’s
effort to recycle to seem futile. On the other hand, the Waste Management Service
argues that a differentiate program of waste collection is hard to implement since the
public trash bins are rarely adequately used, and the waste is always contaminated.
Field observation on how public trash bins are managed, as well as at the waste
management station, was conducted. It revealed that despite existing plans to
develop the waste disposal infrastructure (such as installing special trash bins to
discourage public vandalism and encourage separate collection of trash), the main
issue is waste selection at the household level.

There are multiple factors that might determine a low level of environmentally friendly
behavior on the citizen’s part. They can be split in two areas. The first one is the lack
of education in regards with the importance of implementing selective waste
management in the household. The second one is linked with convenience and
powerful existing habits around private waste management. Many citizens prefer not
to change their waste selection routines since it involves more attention (carefully
observing the types of trash they generate and where they are supposed to be
stored) and the need to rethink the waste collection space in the household.
At the same time, the garbage and trash cans industry does not encourage a
changed behavior towards selective waste collection in the household. For example,
voluminous trash cans encourage the idea of trashing everything in one bag.
Moreover, the traditional trash can already uses a lot of space, so it makes it difficult
to install additional waste collection containers. To conclude, selective waste
collection should begin in the household. To facilitate a more aware and responsible
behavior, the ordinary citizens need knowledge and solutions which can help them
reduce the costs of changing their behavior in regards with private waste collection.

The following solution is built upon Iasi’s “Zero Waste” strategy, aiming to continue
the steps the municipality already implemented or pledged to implement. As the problem is located at the household level, more attention should be provided
to assure data availability in regards to waste management at the city level, as well
as more granular, at the neighborhood level, so that citizens could gain awareness
over the impact of their domestic routines related to trash storage. As the
investments in public infrastructure for waste management proved to have limited
impact over citizens’ behaviors, a harmonization between the Waste Management
Service action plan and citizens’ needs and desired solutions should be operated in
order to assure the common ground so that a joint effort to be made, by both officials
and citizens.

What is the commitment?
Clean Iași is a pilot project which aims to encourage selective waste collection
practices, as well as reducing the waste volume which deteriorates the environment,
both from an ecological and a socioeconomic perspective.
The project has three secondary objectives:
a) Short-term impact: inform, raise awareness and lower the costs of changing
behaviors for the citizens who choose selective waste collection
b) Medium-term impact: facilitate the information transfer from citizens to the
Waste Collection Management service in order to harmonize the public waste
management strategy with the citizens’ needs and their vision
c) Long-term impact: ensure basic research and knowledge for developing public
policies and regulations to diminish the production of objects which cannot be
integrated into the circular economy
Clean Iași aims to:
1. Be proactive in meeting the citizens’ needs by acquiring and distributing 1.000
apartment containers with personalized bags for waste collection, which comply with
the appropriate, standardized design for selective trash storage, and, additionally,
supplement the public waste storage areas with special bins for the collection of used
oil, clothes, and footwear.
The household containers will be distributed free of charge in one or two city
neighborhoods which will present the largest number of citizens requesting to receive
one in order to replace their older waste baskets. The neighborhood with the largest
number of concerned citizens will also be equipped with pecial bins for the collection
of used oil, clothes, and footwear.

The process will involve the following steps:
a) The Information Campaign: “Responsible neighbors, an easier life, zero waste”
The City Hall and/or the waste management service launch an information campaign
and launch a contest to find the cleanest and most responsible neighborhoods in Iași.
b) Mobilizing Responsible Neighborhoods
Owner associations are involved in the popularization of the campaign and in
gathering signatures from neighbors who say “yes, I am responsible, and I want to
give away my waste basket”. Signatures are collected over a period of three weeks,
but the action ends as soon as 1.000 signatures are collected from a neighborhood.
The signature lists are officially registered in a constant manner, and their status is
publicly communicated so as to encourage the mobilization of neighborhood
communities and to keep a record of registrations. The first neighborhood that
gathers 1.000 signatures wins and the competition closes. If at the end of the period
destined to gather signatures no neighborhood reaches the threshold of 1.000
signatures, the winners will be the first two neighborhoods that have gathered the
largest number of responsible citizens.
c) Clean change
The apartment containers and bags are distributed through a series of public events
taking place after the normal working hours, and they include workshops and
practical demonstrations for each block of flats in which the new equipment is
“inaugurated”. Within each session, the neighbors from each block receive the
containers and take part in practical demonstrations on the impact of selective waste
collection, on how the containers should be used, and on practical solutions to
diminish waste. The mounting of special common containers for used oil, clothes,
and footwear is marked through mini community events, which allow neighbors to
know each other and to socialize in a context that is friendly to circular economy.
d) Monitoring and impact assessment
The dynamics of the waste collection areas in the winning neighborhood is monitored
over a period of 6 months and the results concerning the fluctuation of selective
waste collection are made public.

2. Public consultation and harmonization of the Waste Management Service’s action
plan with the citizens’ needs
In order to ensure the most appropriate strategy to encourage selective waste
collection, the second component of Clean Iași focuses on a large public
consultation through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Questions will
touch issues like “what holds you back from collecting selective waste?”, “what do
you need to collect selective waste?”, and “which Zero Waste measures you would
like to have implemented the soonest?”.
The results will be analyzed and harmonized with the Waste Management Service’s
strategy and will reflect in concrete actions planned for 2020.

3. Research, traceability, transparency and predictability for a clean future
The third component of Clean Iași involves the development of a knowledge base
mandatory for creating public policies and industry regulations that aim to diminish
the production of goods that cannot be reintegrated into the system of circular
economy (good that cannot be recycled and reused). The research is done in
collaboration with local universities, research laboratories and the Waste
Management Service in order to have relevant statistics on the quantities and types
of waste generated by the people of Iasi. The research also focuses on the de facto
trajectory of the waste (from the object being trashed in the household, to its
reintegration in the production circuit or its transformation into a polluting agent), as
well as the potential trajectory (what quantity and what type of waste could change
their trajectory in order to be reintegrated in the production of goods, so that they do
not turn into polluting agents).

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public
A. The first component of Clean Iași contributes to overcoming multiple
blockages which impede the development of social behaviors related so
selective trash storage
1. It places the solution at the root of the problem – the household level a) Ecological education happens in the household. Numerous studies support
the idea that, even though education in schools and public spaces contributes to
raising awareness, the impact remains low, because the information is not converted
into strong habits in the private space. Through the distribution of household
selective containers, the recipient citizens of Iasi are encouraged to practice values
which otherwise they might just declaratively accept.
b) Change costs are minimized for the first citizens who take the step towards a
responsible lifestyle. The practical issue, i.e. managing the waste collection area in
the apartment is solved, and its echo in the citizens’s individual conscience is
amplified by the fact that the Municipality recognizes a community need and gets
proactively involved in its solving, offering a solution and not just asking for a
behavioral change.

2. It amplifies the rate of information reception and multiplication about the
need for, the importance of and the best practices for selective waste
collection at home
a) The highest information retention rate is registered when the information has
practical, contextual value. In other words, those people who remember the
information the best are those who need it the most in a specific context. When
prompted with the gifted special bins, citizens are most interested in finding out more
on the subject of selective waste collection at home. Workshops and demonstrations
at this stage are highly effective and the chances are that participants will more often
than not act as ambassadors and multipliers. In other words, participants in these
workshops and demonstrations are pre-qualified to appreciate the real value of
provided information.
b) The information which is easily assimilated in people's’ lifestyle is that which
penetrates their consciousness within leisure activities. Through workshops and
demonstrations taking place in neighborhoods at accessible hours, a friendly and
relaxed context is ensured, so that peoples could socialize and have natural
conversations on topics regarding waste collection, with their neighbors, NGOs
guests and officials.

3. At the same time, the contest contributes to the creation of a community identity at
the neighborhood level, by “de-alienating” neighbors. Anomy and social isolation
awareness, determined by the fact that neighbors do not know each other, amplify in
any community behaviors that ignore the collective good and diminish people’s
capacity to influence each other in order to cultivate constructive and responsible

B. The second component of “Clean Iași”, which focuses on public
consultations and the harmonization of the public waste management strategy
with the citizens’ needs, ensures the impact and correct implementation of
measures aimed at diminishing waste and pollution.
1. It is statistically proven that the efficiency of top-down solution is diminished in
the implementation phase because of understanding blockages and maladjustment
in society. Appropriate probing, both through questionnaires and semi-structured
interviews, ensure a consistent basis of knowledge for the development of measures
in accordance with the citizens’ expectations, understanding, and needs, increasing
the public institution’s efficiency.
2. Public consultation increases the receptivity and understanding of the peoples
of Iasi in regards with the Zero Waste strategy.
C. The third component builds the basis for measures which will decisively
influence the circuit of circular economy, and, on the long-term, targets big
industrial actors.
1. Researching the traceability of locally generated garbage opens the road to a
healthier economic and social biotope, influencing the general pollutant-producing
environment. In other words, once the objects that cannot be reintroduced in the
circular economy stop being produced, and the industry actors agree to use new
production processes, the road to a healthy and equitable environment becomes
stable and predictable.
A strategy to reduce waste cannot be fully carried out if it does not address all the
actors involved and it is absolutely necessary to take measures in order to engage in
the dialogue all the agents that produce goods which turn into waste after use.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
Clean Iași harmonizes several open government partnership standards:
a) It builds on an aggregate strategy undertaken by the municipality, as Zero
Waste employs the co-creation principle in public projects through the harmonization
of projects led by institutions with citizen input;
b) It empowers citizens to create change by allowing them to develop responsible
behaviors (through the competition for the most aware neighborhoods, the distribution of household containers for selective collection of waste and the
placement of public bins for used oil and clothing collection)
c) Allows for transparent impact evaluation
d) It develops a joint dialogue between citizens and institutions for developing a
strategy and an action plan for the Waste Management Service provider, enhancing
its responsibility and transparency
Brings together in dialogue various agents of change (citizens, institutions,
researchers, and paves the way for the future engagement of industry actors in
actions aimed at diminishing pollution)

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