Inspiring circular economy practices

The Interreg Europe funded CECI – Citizen involvement in circular economy implementation project connects citizens and circular economy topics. In CECI, eight partners exchange good practices and share knowledge and experience on circular and sharing economy. CECI – Citizen involvement in circular economy implementation.

The city of Mechelen, Belgium hosted in November 2021 the second part of the 3rd CECI Interregional Meeting focusing on their good practices and site visits. The meeting was held in the circular Impact Factory, a former laundry and an empty office building turned into a laboratory for the circular economy. The circular Impact Factory is funded by City of Mechelen and Stadsmakersfonds and is expected to offer 150 to 200 workplaces when the project is finished. (Vansina 2021.)

picture of a group of people and text CECI Interregional event in Mechelen
Picture 1: CECI project team in Mechelen (Picture: Katerina Medkova)

Social and circular interactions in Mechelen

The Impact Factory is a home to many initiatives identified as CECI Good Practices. One of them is Sharable Mechelen (Deelbaar Mechelen) a tool library offering wide range of home and garden tools, laptops, and seeds. Sharable Mechelen promotes socially engaged sharing economy in the city. Citizens get a yearlong membership for 30 euros for the first year and 20 euros in the following years. Up to five tools at once could be lent for two weeks period. The tool library is run by volunteers, who repair the gear and keep online inventory. The library enables also social interaction between its users. The COVID-19 situation created a sudden demand for laptops due to online schooling. In cooperation with local schools, the vulnerable families could lend laptops for their children. The seed library offers close to one hundred seeds of flowers, vegetables, and fruits. (Interreg Europe 2021a.) Link to Sharable Mechelen.

Another initiative is called CiLAB (circular fashion workshop), a collective that creates and spreads knowledge about circular textiles and experiments with circular techniques. The city of Mechelen acted as a vital link between potential partners and CiLAB, also provided advice and communication support. As the city sees the need in transition to an economy based on the reuse of raw materials. (Interreg Europe 2021b.)

a picture collage of five pictures of various tools, equipment and laptops in tool library
Picture 2. Tool library in the Impact Factory (Picture: Katerina Medkova)

In order to solve the city challenge of merging different actors, business models and subsidies, Ko-LAB hacker / makerspace has been set up. It is an open learning environment for citizens to repair, reuse, experiment and learn through knowledge sharing to solve various societal challenges and needs in science, techniques, arts, and artisan. (Ko-Lab Hackerspace Mechelen 2021.)

MechCiCo – Klimaan is a citizen cooperative, investing in green energy and other climate neutral topics. In cooperation with the city of Mechelen, Klimaan / MechCiCo has focussed on inventorying construction materials for urban mining purposes. They have also created a tool to monitor energy consumption data. (Klimaan 2021.)

During the meeting, the hosting project partner, the city of Mechelen, published their first video (Poppe et al. 2021)


Katerina Medkova works as an RDI Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is CECI Communication Manager.

Marjut Villanen works as an RDI Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is CECI Project Manager. The Interreg Europe funded project CECI, (Citizen Involvement in Circular Economy Implementation), shares information, experiences, and good practices of citizen participation in a circular economy. The project is led by LAB University of Applied Sciences.


Interreg Europe. 2021a. Good practice: Sharable Mechelen. Policy Learning Platform. [Cited 26 Nov 2021]. Available at:

Interreg Europe. 2021b. Good practice: CiLAB- boosting circular textiles. [Cited 29 Nov 2021]. Available at:

Klimaan. 2021. Mechcico – Mechelaars Circulair en Coöperatief. [Cited 29 Nov 2021]. Available at:

Ko-Lab Hackerspace Mechelen. 2021. Ko-Lab Hackerspace Mechelen. [Cited 29 Nov 2021]. Available at:

Vansina, W. 2021. Circulaire Impact Factory krijgt vorm: “Plaats voor 200 werkplekken”.DPG Media NV. [Cited 29 Nov 2021]. Available at:


Link 1. Interreg Europe. 2021a. Project Summary. CECI. [Cited 29 Nov 2021] Available at:

Link 2. Interreg Europe. 2021c. Good practice: Sharable Mechelen. Policy Learning Platform. [Cited 26 Nov 2021]. Available at:


Poppe, J., Storms, D., Gabriëls, V. & Knaepen, D. 2021. CECI project – Discover different good practices on repair within the city of Mechelen. City of Mechelen. [Cited 29 Nov 2021]. Available at: