SR article

Organic waste: the governance of change

Assignment 3 - Report on the governance of change

Jingling Du, Bas van den Herik, Antigoni Karaiskou, Jamal van Kastal, Lieke van der Wijk

 

Introduction

This assignment focuses on the governance of change towards a circular economy in the sociotechnical system of the Hague. For this we need information on the visions from assignment 1, as well as information on the sociotechnical system from assignment 2. These two assignments provide the information needed to conclude on the government of change and draw a pathway to the proposed vision from assignment 1.

In assignment 1 we have established our vision on household waste in The Hague for 2050. In our vision, a separation between industrial and household waste is made. This separation is maintained througout this assignment.

"In 2050 there will be a social system in The Hague which thinks it is normal to reduce and recycle organic waste. This will be such a good social system that there is no need for the government to use regulations or subsidies. In this social system, citizens of The Hague will be used to separate their waste. They will recycle waste, at home or locally, similar to initiatives such as ‘de Compostbakkers’ or ‘Glorious Bastards’.

Organic waste is also defined in different ways: vegetables which do not have the aesthetic standards as of today's standards will not be seen as waste anymore and organic waste will not be called 'waste' anymore but will be seen as ‘future fertilizers’. Companies also will be motivated to share their organic waste with each other to see what can be reused, think of initiatives such as EcoRevolte."

In assignment 2 the sociotechnical system of The Hague regarding organic waste is set out:

Figure 1: Organic waste flow as illustrated in Assignment 2.

 

In the first part of this assignment an initiative analysis is done on how the initiatives aim to change the sociotechnical system and how they are doing this at the moment. Two initiatives focussing on industrial organic waste are analysed: Glorious Bastards and InStock. Furthermore, two initiatives on household level are analysed: 100-100-100 and de Compostbakkers.

In the second part of the assignment transitioning actions in other regions than the Hague are described and analyzed. The scale and scope of these transitioning actions are described and the feasibility in the Hague is commented on. When an initiative is found that is not applied in a similar way in the Hague yet is found this initiative is added to our path to the 2050 vision. This information will therefore be very useful in defining what is missing in the Hague at the moment.

In the last part of this assignment the path to the described vision in 2050 is described: how is this vision going to be reached and who are the key players in policy making and awareness creation? From this can be concluded what the most important steps are that should be taken in the Hague to reach circularity and a more sustainable environment in the city.

 

Influences of initiatives and transitioning actions in and outside The Hague

In this chapter, multiple relevant initiatives and transitioning actions are analyzed. The analysis shows what part of the sociotechnical system they want to adapt and what the impact of the replacement of these mechanisms will be. Furthermore, there is also looked at the opportunities that are created by the initiatives and the opportunities that are used.

Finally, the relations between the initiatives and transitioning actions are discussed; do they support or frustate each other? Is there overlap?

 

Initiatives in The Hague

Four initiatives that were interviewed and analyzed in assignment 1 are again analyzed in this assignment, but now there is looked at the way they try to influence the transition. Finally, the influence of the initiatives on the legitimacy and the problems they might encounter with the current legitimacy are discussed.

The analysis is performed using the three pillars from S. Borrás & J. Edler (2014). Their approach to the governance of change is discussed in Assignment 2: Description of the sociotechnical system. Their approach consists of three pillars of change:

  1. Who and what drives the change. This pillar looks at the agents and opposing structures that have an influence on the transition.
  2. How is this change influenced. This pillar looks at the instrumentation in the transition.
  3. Why is this change accepted (or not). This pillar looks at the legitimacy and social/cultural acceptance of a transition.

 

Glorious bastards

Glorious Bastards collects unaesthetic vegetables and fruits from agriculture and processing it into foods that do not require the food’s aesthetical standards, like soups and smoothies. Thus, the waste flow initiated in the agricultural sector is reduced in size. The processing of ‘waste’ food is a means to improve inclusivity of people with a distance from the labor market are employed to process these foods. The product will be made in vacant buildings’ canteens. Thus, Glorious Bastards are improving three aspects of the sociotechnical system:

  • Amount of organic waste from agriculture
  • Inclusivity
  • Vacancy of utility buildings

Initially, they are a non-profit organisation which aims to be funded through contests. These contests are held by the municipality of The Hague (reference: ImpactCity, 2016), but also by private parties (referenced: MKB Den Haag, 2016). Glorious Bastards do not want to use subsidies to fund their initiative, amongst others because they think other initiatives are in more need of funding (Kastel, 2016). Therefore, the role of the municipality is of mere motion and non-committal. Funding of the Glorious Bastards will be done through a parallel economic entity. An issue, however, is the use of a vacant building’s canteen, since legislations regarding vacant buildings are quite stiff.

 

Instock

The Instock Restaurants cook with waste food from Albert Heijn, one of the most well-known supermarkets in the Netherlands. Asides from that, Instock has also released a cookbook, which contains recipes with household food leftovers (Karaiskou, 2016a). With these means Instock reduces both tertiary sector and household waste and helps spread awareness regarding the use of organic ‘waste’.

The Instock initiative was realized after winning a contest; ‘Het Beste Idee van Young Ahold’, initially as a pop-up restaurant in Amsterdam (Wennekes, 2016), but currently as a foundation, with restaurants in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. We therefore assume that Instock isn’t funded by the municipality. Unfortunately, we cannot ensure that legislature regarding the Albert Heijn’s sharing of ‘waste’, or Instock’s cooking with ‘waste’ hasn’t been an issue. However, with three Instock restaurants running, we assume this issue is resolved or is non-existent.

 

100-100-100

‘100-100-100’ is an initiative in which 100 households are challenged to live 100 days 100% waste-free. Thus, awareness and knowledge about waste management are spread and the amount of generated waste of these 100 households is reduced. The households are checked upon by so-called ‘ambassadors’, whom form groups with people that are not so good at waste separation or find it scary to participate in such an experiment on their own (Karaiskou, 2016b). The change is influenced by the setup of the challenge: at the beginning, an information packet is distributed to the participants, with information on how to tackle this challenge. The group is given their own forum, in which they can share their knowledge and experiences and in which they motivate each other.

The 100-100-100 initiative stays within the boundaries of legitimacy; in The Hague, ‘Sustainable The Hague’ initiated the project, but otherwise the municipality doesn’t play a role in the initiative; the initiative is completely driven by the voluntary participation of the house and the ambassadors.

 

De Compostbakkers

‘De Compostbakkers’ is an initiative that promotes and facilitates the local composting of organic household waste. This initiative started to provide a neighborhood garden of its own compost. But driven by examples from other initiatives they quickly grew and were driven by the idea of making an impact on the waste stream and creating awareness on the usefulness of organic waste. They adapted their initiative to create awareness and started educating people (especially children).

The change they want to make can summarized in creating awareness and education, they try to influence this change by actively participating in education and creating visibility of the composting process. Jan Morsch, founder of de Compostbakkers, stated:

“The social impact of the project is much larger [than the quantitative impact], we see a large impact on the awareness of the people around the gardens. The visibility of the composting process learns the people that the organic waste they produce is not really waste but that it can be used to provide nutrients for plants and crops.”  (v. d. Herik, 2016)

This citation shows the way they try to influence the change they want to reach. They see a lot of opportunities in the way they influence the change. They do not have any problems with policies in the Hague and are stimulated by the municipality.



Transition actions in- and outside the Hague

In this part transitions actions outside the Hague, regarding organic waste, are presented and discussed. There is looked at the scope, size and feasibility for application in the Hague. When a project or action is missing at the Hague and will possibly be feasible, this project will be added to the pathway to the proposed vision.

 

Groene Mient

The Groene Mient is an initiative of the citizens of the Vruchtenbuurt in The Hague where they want to realize a social ecological living project. They want to do this to achieve social diversity, living together in solidarity and living not only ecological responsible, but also cheap, flexible and approachable. They want to create a green village in a big city. It is all about creating a community. (Groene Mient, 2016)

The scope of the Groene Mient is all about creating a community; the scope on waste management is secondary. But when such a community is created, the focus on how to manage waste is automatically encouraged. In that way it will contribute to the future society that is used to managing waste in a good way without the regulation of the municipality on The Hague. We can foresee the Groene Mient, or similar neighbourhoods, as a breeding ground for sustainable initiatives which will be applied in the rest of the city. We also see possibilities to upscale this initiative to an urban scale in the longer term. A social ecological neighbourhood will not only bring people together, it will also encourage a more sustainable way of living.

 

Green Bin Program

It became illegal to toss organic waste into the regular garbage since January 1, 2015, in Vancouver. There would be a six-month period for all residents to get used to separating organic waste and then a penalty would start (Treehugger, 2015).

According to the metro Vancouver, they would collect the items in residents’ green bin weekly if residents live in a house or duplex. There is another City garbage and yard waste collection service for people living in a multi-unit building. The residents can also use On-site organics management systems to turn food scraps into compost, energy, or dehydrated organic material at their multi-unit residential building or business. The service is suited for different levels and scales. (Surrey, 2016)

The action in Vancouver is applicable to The Hague because their populations are similar, 600 thousand to 500 thousand. What’s more, they both have high urban areas and high urbanization. Therefore, the scale of the city and the amount of organic waste would be comparable.

Vancouver and The Hague are both high urban areas with a similar population. The content of the program is applicable for the current situation of The Hague. In The Hague, only 14% of the household waste is separated, while the nationwide goal is 43% (HMC, 2008). With a compulsory ban like the Green Bin Program, the separation rate of organic waste will be significantly increased. Additionally, since the program encourages residents to use On-site organics management systems at their buildings or businesses, sustainable awareness will be improved. 

 

FORWARD

FORWARD, From Organic Waste to Recycling for development, is an independent non-profit R&D project and is funded by SECO, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. It is an applied research project about the municipal organic solid waste in medium-sized cities of Indonesia. This project develops a pilot operation at the Puspa Agro wholesale market in Sidoarjo. It works cooperating with the local governmental authorities and Indonesian researchers, focusing on innovative technological and managerial approaches to organic waste processing. This way, it relates to the organic waste management and market analysis associated with the products from the organic waste, showing technical and economic viability for the transformation of organic waste. (Eawag, 2016)

In Sidoarjo this project is now studying on transforming some proper organic waste into larvae of the Black Soldier Fly and into earthworms which can be commercialized as feed for fish, chickens, and birds, providing an economic incentive for organic solid waste separation and treatment.

Organic waste after treatment and conversion can be produced into marketable products like compost, biogas, biochar or forage. The organic waste management embodies great potential business and employment opportunities. The new suitable technology and system can turn the organic waste management become a profitable business which stimulates the public to do separation and treatment in return.

Thusfar, no initiatives in The Hague have used the concept of using organic waste for economically feasible animal food. We can imagine that the agricultural sector of The Hague is interested in this concept, since it both reduces their waste and increases their profits. 



The Developing World: A Community design process in Philippines

A Community design process in the Philippines shows the organic waste management combined with the urban agriculture in developing countries. It happened in Cagayan in the southern Philippines.The population is approximately 500,000, but much of population is composed of urban poor. Therefore allotment gardens were introduced as an effort to ease hunger among the urban poor. Besides, they also serve as important social bulges where gardeners and customers visit, exchange information and stuff. They create urban green space for residents to get close to nature. Most importantly, they are instrumental in organic waste management. (Tramhel, 2016)

There is a five-day Community Ecoaid Training Course helping the participants gain a basic level of knowledge about the urban design and solid waste management, composting techniques and the use of compost for urban agriculture. And the participants would go back to their communities and help their communities achieve their visions and site plans they developed before. Each of the teams composed of the participants developed site plans so that the compost could be incorporated into food production activities either in the accompanying allotment garden or in container gardens.

Although the compositions of the population of The Hague and the Cagayan are quite different, combining the urban agriculture with organic waste management is still applicable in The Hague. In The Hague, about 10% of supplied office space is vacant (Seebus, 2012). It is a great opportunity to give these spaces a new function. Using organic waste in urban agriculture would gain economical, ecological and social benefits. It is also promising to close the nutrient loop on a small scale. During the organic waste management in the urban agriculture, the residents would come to identify the organic waste as an asset, a resource, rather than as garbage. This way the urban agriculture will make residents become more enthusiastic towards the waste separation and organic waste management. The use of organic waste in urban agriculture is present of small scale but receives increasing attention from both the municipality and some initiatives.

The Hague, however, is already more informed in terms of waste management, so we shouldn’t implement this exact initiative. However, we can conclude from this projects that knowledge generation really works well and we should implement a similar approach in The Hague.

 

NYC Compost Project

The NYC Compost Project is a project that takes place in New York City in The Unites States of America. The project gives New Yorkers the knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to produce and use compost. By doing this, the project helps to reduce waste in the city and rebuild City soils. They have different ways in doing this. The first is that the NYC Compost Project has workshops and courses for the citizens of New York of all ages and all experiencing levels. This way the New Yorkers learn about composting. The project also has a network which can connect New Yorkers to experts that can give technical assistance or to other community composters through all the City. There is the possibility to drop off food scraps so other people can use it to compost locally. And some facilities to visit or volunteer at an compost site or urban farm. All this helps to create awareness and knowledge about reducing waste. (NYC, 2016)

The scope of this initiative is very applicable to The Hague as it creates awareness and knowledge about reducing waste to the citizens of high urban areas. This project is very similar to De Compostbakkers, which gives opportunities to expand The Compostbakker to get it to a higher scale. Our main focus would not be on compost, but the way they deal with it in the NYC compost project. 

 

Relations between the initiatives and transitioning actions

Each of the initiatives and transitioning actions described attempt to influence an aspect of the sociotechnical system of organic waste. See figure 2.

Figure 2: Flowchart indicating the change of household organic waste flow by initiatives and transitioning actions in and out of The Hague.

From figure 2, we can conclude that there is a large amount of overlap in the initiatives and transitioning actions. 

In general, we can subdivide two major changes in the sociotechnical system. This substantiates our vision, in which we also made a distinctions between household and industrial waste. The two major changes are:

  • Increasing awareness and knowledge of citizens, thus improving household waste management
  • The use of industrial 'waste', thus decreasing industrial waste streams

De Compostbakkers, the NYC Compost Project and the Phillipines' community design process aim to increase social awareness by the composting of waste. The NYC Compost Project works on a larger scale than De Compostbakkers, which is further established by the creation of a network. Both initiatives are initiated by 'experts', but with an aim that after a while the community will have enough knowledge to collaboratively work towards sustainable organic waste management.

Similarly to the initiatives mentioned before, De Groene Mient focusses on the creation of a community, thus encouraging the spreading of sustainable awareness and knowledge.

The Green Bin Program and the 100-100-100 challenge focus on waste management.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages: the Green Bin Program is operating on a larger scale, since the 100-100-100 challenge only addresses 100 households. However, with the Green Bin Program the change is enforced upon the citizens by regulations from the governmant, whereas the 100-100-100 is voluntary, both the initiation and the execution. Since these two initiatives are mutually exclusive, a choice needs to be made. We chose for the Green Bin Program; we feel that some regulations are required in order to kickstart a quick change towards a sustainable lifestyle. Because waste separation has already been possible and has been encouraged for years, obliging waste separation is a relatively small measure.

FORWARD, Instock and Glorious Bastards focus on the reduction of industrial waste by using it for different functions. Whereas Instock and Glorious Bastards still use 'food waste for food, FORWARD thinks out of the box and uses food waste to create bait, pet food and compost in a lucrative manner. Although each of these initiatives combat waste of a different sector, they achieve the same goal; to create an integrated economy in which companies make use of each other's waste streams, supporting each other economically. 

 

Pathway to the 2050 vision

In this part the initiatives analysis, projects outside the Hague and the knowledge on the sociotechnical system in the Hague are used to discuss and conclude on how the proposed vision in assignment 1 can be reached. To do this the vision is divided in two parts: industry and households. Measures needed are discussed, and the current initiatives are coupled to these measures. Where initiatives or action from the municipality of the Hague is missing, other projects are mentioned and actions are proposed.

 

First the households part of the vision will be discussed. The vision for the households is given below:

In 2050 there will be a social system in The Hague which thinks it is normal to reduce and recycle organic waste. This will be such a good social system that there is no need for the government to use regulations or subsidies. In this social system, citizens of The Hague will be used to separate their waste. They will recycle waste, at home or locally, similar to initiatives such as ‘de Compostbakkers’ or ‘Glorious Bastards’.

In the beginning regulations from the municipality are needed to really start the transition to circularity. Regulations that could be used are for example: The obligation for households to separate (organic) waste, like the Green Bin Program. The Green Bin Program in Vancouver is an example of strong regulation which steers the transition. Additionally, what needs to be done by the national government (and proposed by the municipality of the Hague) is that packaging should be labeled according to their recycling need, since this is still lacking (see interview with Seline Oosterling). These are first regulatory steps that are to be taken to assure that we reach our vision before 2050.

The regulations are to be supported by initiative similar to ‘100-100-100’, ‘de Compostbakkers’ and ‘NYC Compost project’, that help spread knowledge and information. Projects like ‘FORWARD and ‘A Community design process in Philippines’ can also be used to see how knowledge and awareness can be created. The focus is on inclusivity, with (semi)direct gain (like compost) as a secondary benefit. With the help of these initiatives and the municipality of The Hague, this will result in a more critical way of thinking about waste, and sustainability in general; people will be more hesitant to create waste and this will decrease the amount of unseparated waste.

A group of people are likely to become inspired to live in a greener urban area's, like ‘De Groene Mient’. These sustainable urban environments will further inspire them to become more sustainable (Braungart & McDonough, 2002).

After a while, the municipality’s role will decrease; regulations will become kind of unnecessary: proper waste management is the new norm, so people will do this by themselves. If this point is reached, our vision for 2050 is achieved. The sustainable awareness of the citizens will then be sufficient to reach a circular economy.

 

The vision of the industry with regards to organic waste is cited below:

Industry:

"[In 2050] Organic waste is also defined in different ways: vegetables which do not have the aesthetic standards as of today's standards will not be seen as waste anymore and organic waste will not be called 'waste' anymore but will be seen as ‘future fertilizers’. Companies will also be motivated to share their organic waste with each other to see what can be reused, think of initiatives such as 'EcoRevolte' and 'Glorious Bastards'."

In 2050, waste flow reduction is achieved by collaborations between companies, using each other's ‘waste’, similar to the collaboration of Instock and Albert Heijn, and Glorious Bastards and the agricultural sector. These initiatives, as well as the FORWARD initiative, show that both parties have economic gains by working together. Currently, however, these types of collaborations aren’t encouraged, due to regulations and other practical issues [CityChallenges, 2016].

The municipality of The Hague should therefore provide the ‘tools’ for sharing resources. The first ‘tool’ is balancing taxes on waste; when the amount of unusable waste (trash) generated by companies falls below a certain threshold, a tax cut is given. This motivates companies to improve their waste management. The second ‘tool’ is the growth of a network, similar to the ‘Cirkelstad Academie’, the 100-100-100 challenge and the NYC Compost Project, for the exchange of knowledge. The third ‘tool’ concerns urban development and will be implemented gradually; (new) urban planning should consider the adjacency or proximity of ‘symbiotic’ companies or the allocation of storage space. Transportation pollution is thus decreased. According to the demand, green neighbourhoods like the Groene Mient are built.

 

Though the amount of both household and industrial waste in The Hague will be significantly reduced through the aforementioned means, organic waste processing would still be necessary. Organic waste processing will be focusing on minimum resource loss: non-recyclable organic waste will be downcycled into biogas and compost though digestion, in order to maximize the energy gain of the non-recyclable waste stream. Technological developments will make this gradually more efficient. Because both household and industrial waste separation will improve, less organic waste is ‘contaminated’ and thus relatively more waste can be digested instead of burned (a lesser efficient method) or landfilled.

 

Conclusion:

The plausibility of our vision for a circular organic waste stream in The Hague in 2050, as set out in Assignment 1, is confirmed by analyzing the implementation current initiatives and reference projects that The Hague. Several interventions in the sociotechnical system will induct a change towards circularity. The primary changes on the system, as well as their cause (i.e. new influences on the waste stream), are shown in figure 2.

In assignment 2 we introduced a few loose ends which are; organic waste not being re-used, the mostly bad and big influence of the municipality of The Hague, and the lack of education for creating knowledge and awareness in the socio technical system. With the changes described above  we will be able to solve the loose ends that we noticed in assignment 2. Because there will be a better use for organic waste without it being ‘trash’ and creating a community which is used to the re-use of organic waste which does not need the influence of the municipality of The Hague and will have a good education within this community which creates knowledge and awareness.

 

Figure 2: Flowchart indicating the change of household organic waste flow by influences on the sociotechnical system.



Literature

Braungart & McDonough (2002). Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things. North point press.

CityChallenges, 2016, 'Glorious Bastards': van idee naar sociale onderneming. Retrieved from https://www.citychallenges.nl/nieuws/379, 09-01-2017

Eawag, 2016, https://www.eawag.ch/en/department/sandec/projects/mswm/forward-from-organic-waste-to-recycling-for-development/

Groene Mient, 2016, http://www.groenemient.nl

Herik, B.v.d, (2016). Interview with ‘De Compostbakkers’.

ImpactCity, 2015. http://impactcity.nl/innovator/glorious-bastards/

Karaiskou, A. (2016a). Interview with Danique Levering [Instock Restaurant]

Karaiskou, A. (2016b). Interview with Ilse Thoma [Afval 100-100-100 project].

Kastel, J.v, (2016b). Interview with ‘Glorious Bastards’.

MKB Den Haag, 2016. http://www.mkbdenhaag.nl/1302/social-club-investor-days.htm

NYC, 2016, http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/zerowaste/residents/nyc-compost-project.shtml

Surrey, 2016, http://www.surrey.ca/city-services/14489.aspx

Tramhel, J., 2016, Integrating Organic Solid Waste Management with Urban Agriculture: Using a Community Design Process in the Philippines

Treehugger, 2015, http://www.treehugger.com/culture/city-vancouver-bans-organic-waste-regular-garbage.html

Wennekes, L. (2016). Instock opent samen met AH Restaurant in Den Haag. Retrieved from http://www.outofhome-shops.nl/nieuws/algemeen/instock-opent-samen-met-ah-restaurant-in-den-haag , 18/12/2016.

All rights reserved