Community development, Environment and sustainability

Wake up and compost! shortlist

Engaging neighbourhood communities in participatory urban governance and local management of bio-waste starting community composting scheme.


Who is behind this?

Sonja Katana

Transition Initiative Rijeka



Idea pitch

Bio-waste from Rijeka's neighbourhoods ends up in regional waste management centre infamous as ecological threat to the local ecosystem and hazardous to surrounding population. Citizens from the Rijeka's densely populated neighbourhoods, where that waste is produced, are feeling discouraged and underskilled to make any change. With this project we will engage locals in participatory urban governance in their neighbourhoods to tackle bio-waste issues and prototype community composting systems.

Where will your project idea take place?

Neighbourhoods of Rijeka, harbour city at the northwest of Croatia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Following EU Circular Economy Package Agreement EU member states are obliged to manage separately their bio-waste latest by the end of 2023. Containers for separate collection of waste placed by communal operator in Rijeka’s neighbourhoods are for plastic, paper, metal and remaining mixed waste. There are no containers for separate collection of bio-waste. All the waste from the city and the whole county is taken to county's waste management centre which due to not adequate placement, technology and management has been a threat to local ecosystems and hazard to the health of surrounding population. It is a high possibility that we won't meet bio-waste management goals by 2023., and thus be obliged to pay penalties which will effect citizens garbage collection bills.

Who are you doing it for?

We are having three target groups which will be developing and testing three prototypes of community composting systems in three different neighbourhoods and locations. Our first group are dog walkers which are regularly visiting dog parks placed in some of the city neighbourhoods. That is already friendly and cohesive group which in the moment uses plastic bags for dog poops disposal, which end up in the mixed waste container together with the rest of communal waste. Second group are school age children which will be prototyping a compositing system model placed in the school courtyards together with the school staff and their families. Third group will be retired citizens, especially ones who are, together with their grandchildren, visiting regularly kids playgrounds.

How do you plan to get there?

We will use “sleepy” city council offices located in each neighbourhood as places where neighbours can gather in activities of co-creating their neighbourhoods to form community groups for community composting schemes.
We will engage 3 target groups of neighbours in 3 different neighbourhoods, that lack confidence and competences to participate in decision-making and implementation processes in their locations, in the process of participatory design of community composting systems.
Participatory design centres around the idea that people who are affected by a decision, event or product should have an opportunity to influence it. Users engaged in process have increased sense of ownership of the end product and motivation to use it in the long term, they feel empowerment to express their needs and ideas, and gain new skills and competences.
There will be 4 main groups of activities:
- Informing, planning and creating relationships and networks aiming to define and plan the project, and build relationships with relevant stakeholders (Open Space, Mapping)
- Design activities related to defining a design challenge and facilitating activities with local communities
- Monitoring and Evaluation activities related to defining project goals, tracking progress and measuring success
- Education on local ecosystems, gardening and composting practices.

What are the expected results?

By the end of our project phase we are expecting to establish practises and procedures of co-governance in neighbourhoods that are lacking civic infrastructure and confidence to engage in decision-making processes beyond political elections in the field of bio-waste management, local community groups that are using city council offices for their activities towards improvement of quality of life and collaboration with local authorities. As the result of participatory design activities we are expecting to have 3 tested prototypes of community composting system, at least 30 families from local communities who are composting regularly and 6 trained composting monitors and organisers. Results of our educational are 3 workshops on composting and urban gardening and 1 lecture on local ecosystems.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

During the project Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020 an unique cultural centre and hub was successfully fostering development of active citizenship and better cooperation between citizens and local government. Now as it is closed, we are aiming to continue with the practice bringing it to the neighbourhoods and utilizing city’s local council offices as new local hubs. We will organize Open Spaces and Community Resources Mapping sessions to bring together in dialogue local citizenship, authorities, communal waste operator company and social entrepreneurs. Working groups will be formed and engaged in the participatory design process and prototyping. New agreed procedures adapted to the legal framework and prototyped composting system will serve as a model to other neighbourhoods.

Why is this idea important to you?

Since 2013. we have established various community groups around the issues of sustainability such as Community Supported Agriculture, Community gardens and Transition initiative. We have cooperated with local government offices, schools, University of Rijeka, various associations and initiatives and have been very active in European Capital of Culture Rijeka 2020 through the project „Edible city“ and „Green movie festival“. We are motivated to encourage people in our local communities to change the negative attitude that they can not do anything to positive one feeling that what they have to say matters and they can do something.

€ 7450,-

Total budget

€ 7450,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Administration and office expenses 1200 Euros
Public relations and media 800 Euros
Workshops 1450 Euros
Composting systems materials 4000 Euros

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Any practical advice on creating community composting schemes is welcome as well as good examples of community groups building. We are particularly interested in nurturing bioregional ties with similar harbour citys, Kopar and Trieste, in Slovenia in Italy.



Idea created on April 26, 2021

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