Spain: Promoting recycling awareness using rewards
September 6, 2023

You can build win-win scenarios while adapting your community to the circular economy. A good example is the Spanish Tropa Verde project. It improved environmental quality, quality of life, while at the same time promoting the local economy.

Tropa Verde was a multimedia platform that promoted recycling and environmental responsibility among citizens. It did this by rewarding good environmental practices. These practices included increased recycling rates and the promotion of environmental awareness by applying gamification and rewards. The project was active between 2015 and 2023.

The project used a game-based web platform, and its website connected the necessary elements. Here citizens could find recycling points for rewards from the City Council and local retailers. The website showed you places for disposal of waste as well as how you were rewarded when you did so. Local businesses interacted and collaborated, by providing gifts or discounts. These are businesses such as retailers, restaurants, outdoor event spots and shops. For successful implementation, all different stakeholders were needed.

Started with a survey
The Tropa Verde project started after a 2015 survey showed that many inhabitants were reluctant to recycle, due to habit and a lack of information. In less than two years, recycling soared: more than 115 local sponsors 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.

Tropa Verde was a project led by Santiago de Compostela, promoted by Urbaser, a municipal solid waste (MSW) management company. The project was developed by local technology company Teimas and has now been adopted by more than six other cities.

Tropa Verde has been in place since 2015, with 4065 users the first 5 years:

  • 29 recycling points located throughout the city.
  • the rewards system includes vouchers from 150 sponsors.
  • 2302 rewards issued
  • more than €15,000 in prizes and rewards
  • 15,168 vouchers given
  • over 1500 rewards delivered.

Awareness among the young
Several workshops for children were also conducted within the project. Among those: Recycle, Reutilise and Play with Tropa Verde and two school campaigns with the theme Recycling at school is rewarded. The campaign organised the collection of used cooking oil and electrical and electronic appliances. This involved 20 different schools, 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.

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).

The Tropa Verde project has ended, but you can still see its social media pages: Instagram here, and Facebook page here

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