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Study tour to the Basque Country

Study Tour in the Basque Country.

In addition to good practices in waste management, this trip also visited good practices in circular economy. In this sense, I visited several companies in the fields of food, fashion, or remanufacturing.

The expedition began with an event organized by the University of Zero Waste Europe and the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) in Vitoria-Gasteiz on November 28th. It consists of an international conference that focuses on reducing municipal waste management costs by optimizing separate collection, reducing residual waste, and converting these parts into market products. Javier Garaizar, Vice President of UPV/EHU Arava Campus, opened the meeting, followed by Ainhoa ​​Etxeandia, Director of Environment of the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council. Followed by Joan Marc Simon, Ferran Rosa, Enzo Favoino, Marco Mattiello, Kevin Curran, Nekane Artola and Ainhoa ​​Arrozpide.

48 participants attended the meeting, including civil servants, representatives of companies and environmental consultants, policy makers, university professors and students. The presentation can be found here.

Thanks to the zero waste group Gasteiz Zero Zabor, the afternoon was used to understand the waste management situation of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

November 29th and 30th are dedicated to visit good practices in waste management and circular economy. This trip allowed visits to cities and counties that had undergone major improvements in individual collection systems. During these experiences, this trip visited small villages such as Leintz Gatzaga or Elburgo that collect and process biological waste in the same city. Participants also visited the Debagoiena and Sasieta counties to better understand their garbage collection systems (door-to-door, roadside containers with chips or hybrid systems) making the municipalities of these counties 70% and 80% separate Collect or more.

In addition to good practices in waste management, this trip also visited good practices in circular economy. In this sense, I visited several companies in the fields of food, fashion, or remanufacturing.

At the Azurmendi restaurant in Eneko Atxa, together with a three-Michelin-star Basque chef, the participants learned about the concept of the project and visited the facilities. After the visit, they provided a delicious meal and the participants could learn about the way they manage biological waste in the restaurant. Gurpide Elkartea is an association working for the city of Larrabetzuko, responsible for the management of biological waste from Azurmendi and neighbors in the city. In Lalabezuko, they follow the "Austrian System" of composting, allowing local farmers to dispose of biological waste in scattered composting yards. This reduces the cost of the municipality, while allowing local farmers to obtain additional income and high-quality compost.

Not far away, in Zamundio, Skunkfunk's Cristina Cendoya and Mikel Feijoo introduced the company's philosophy and the design of the capsule zero waste series. Afterwards, the visitors went to a facility of the social economic company Koopera, where they sorted 18,000 tons of clothes each year.

In a completely different field, this trip also visited Rebattery, a company based in Begara that remanufactures and recycles batteries. Rebattery managed to give new life to 60-75% of the batteries they received and put them back on the market.

The three-day study tour is not only interesting, but also a vivid testament to the current circular economy initiatives in the Basque Country and the growing potential of these activities. This trip successfully demonstrated the best practices throughout the economic cycle.

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