In early June 2022, the CECI project partner Business Agency Association hosted the last Interregional meeting in the sunny Varna, Bulgaria. The meeting was organised as hybrid, and combined project meeting and a local dissemination event. On the first day, during the project meeting, CECI partners shared their experiences, action plans and reported on the impact of the project in their regions. To sum up, the project has intensified the cooperation with the residents. Awareness of the circular economy has also increased, and understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each region has improved.
In the afternoon, the local stakeholders and experts from universities and various organisations, as well as residents of Varna, gathered together with CECI partners in a workshop. The workshop served also as a local dissemination event during which the stakeholders heard about the project and its progress. The partners and stakeholders discussed together the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation in the implementation of the circular economy. The participants were divided into three groups, which all worked on their own themes: textiles, consumer goods, and building materials. The themes were examined through legislation, logistics and consumer behavior. Challenges and solutions were discussed and presented. The participants were very innovative and productive.
Gardening and recycling in Varna
On the second day, the program focused on presenting four good practices from Varna. The first two dealt with gardening and the other two with recycling.
Detska Radost, an educational organic garden in kindergarten, charmed the CECI team with their Bulgarian traditional welcoming with bread, singing and dancing. In the kindergarten, the children learn about environmental issues, and grow herbs, vegetables and fruits together with their teachers and parents.
The 3C program of Federation Humana People to People supporting communal gardening presented their Varna urban farm. The purpose of community farming is to promote environmental protection and sustainable urban farming. In addition to cultivation, also educational workshops are organised and the sense of belonging to the local community is promoted. Underlying the project, Humana pays the land rent as well as all the necessary tools and materials. For the last 3 years, the Varna urban farming has involved 40 people from different backgrounds and age groups. Attendees gather every Saturday on the field to work together and learn more about sustainable farming.
Next, two good practices focused on recycling. The charity campaign Caps for the Future collects plastic bottle caps. The charity campaign began with one activist and is now grown into a large movement including citizens, various organisations and restaurants. Twice a year, major collection events are organized. The collected caps are sold and the profit is used to purchase instruments and equipment for the maternity hospitals in Bulgaria.
The Leaf by Leaf is a paper collection and recycling campaign organized by the Ecovarna NGO. The collected paper is sold for recycling and the profit is used to support other Ecovarna activities to raise awareness of environmental issues e.g., replacing plastic bags with durable textile bags and plastic cups in kindergartens with stainless steel cups. Ecovarna also provides Green Friday events for a local neighbourhood to discuss different environmental topics.
Katerina Medkova works as an RDI Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is CECI Communication Manager. CECI – Citizen Involvement in Circular Economy Implementation is an Interreg Europe co-funded project led by LAB University of Applied Sciences, Finland.
Johnna Snell works as a CECI project coordinator in the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme.
Marjut Villanen works as an RDI Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is CECI Project Manager.
Link 1. Interreg Europe. 2022. Project Summary. CECI. Cited 27 Jun 2022. Available at https://projects2014-2020.interregeurope.eu/ceci/