LOWaste - LOcal Waste Market for second life products

LIFE10 ENV/IT/000373

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Contact details:

Contact person: Lara SITTI
Tel: +39 0532 744620
Fax: +39 0532 744630
Email: l.sitti@comune.fe.it

Project description:


Waste volumes are increasing exponentially in the European Union, outpacing even economic growth. Each year, 3 billion tonnes of waste, including 90 million tonnes of hazardous waste, are thrown away, equivalent to about 6 tonnes of solid waste per person. According to OECD estimates, these volumes will increase by a further 45% by 2020. The EU's Sixth Environment Action Programme identifies waste prevention and management as one of four top priorities, with a primary aim being to decouple waste generation from economic growth.


The LOWaste project aimed to reduce urban waste and preserve natural resources by developing a local market for recycled materials. Project beneficiaries worked toward this goal by enhancing existing green public procurement schemes, by promoting waste prevention and encouraging the use of recovered materials, and by raising awareness of how waste can be reduced through reuse or the purchase of recycled products.


The LOWaste project achieved its objectives by establishing and consolidating markets for four "re-products" (i.e. products deriving from recovered wastes) and putting down solid bases for three additional markets (reuse centres, plastics, and inerts for building). However, its main overarching achievement was inspiring the creation of a local green district, based on circular economy principles, consisting of waste operators, small reuse and recycling platforms, artisans and SMEs engaged in the development and manufacture of products from recovered materials. The ongoing activities of this green district will consolidate the waste management approach developed during the project. Local markets for recycled or reused material were established, both on the supply and demand side, to reduce urban waste. The project beneficiaries set up four consolidated "re-products" markets, for textiles, inert building waste (i.e. waste that will not decompose), urban furnishings and play equipment, and food residues. Textiles were recycled to produce a range of goods, including shoes, bags, furniture coverings and toys. Inerts recovered from the building sector (e.g. sand and bricks) were used as base material for roads, or mixed with cement in prototype panelling produced by a private sector building company. Urban furnishings and play equipment was refurbished or used for spare-parts storage. Food residues were collected in a local school and treated in a demonstration composter that accelerated their transformation into compost, which was reused directly in the school garden. The associated beneficiary Città Verde is continuing with inert waste recycling, street furniture and play equipment recovery, and food waste composting.

Within the project’s green district, these four "re-products" markets generated a series of environmental benefits, including direct waste reductions of up to 11 400 tons per year (in a district with a 350 000 population); indirect resource savings due to the use of secondary raw materials of around 11 200 tons of raw materials per year; estimated reductions of up to 3 000 tons of CO2 per year arising from non-disposal of wastes and the use of secondary raw materials; and a reduced water footprint of more than 230 000 cubic meters. The project partners also designed a reuse centre for Ferrara, where both private citizens and companies can dispose of items for eventual repair.

The coordinating beneficiary, the Municipality of Ferrara, developed a green procurement programme that linked buying procedures to the eco-design of products. Following the results of tests, for example, the municipality council approved a regulation that obliged the use of recycled materials for road construction and maintenance; this regulation has been fully operative since December 2013. LOWaste encouraged the recovery of waste and the use of recovered materials by developing a wide and effective communication strategy, centring on three LOWaste events and the "LOWaste for action" initiative. This initiative connected 58 selected actors, including designers, manufacturers and sales networks; 13 prototypes of re-products were suggested. All project beneficiaries and several local stakeholders signed the “LOWaste agreement” as a commitment to pursue the project’s long-term goal of creating a circular economy. The aim is to strengthen existing supply chains and encourage the emergence of new ones for recycling and reuse, to create a more resilient LOWaste district. The LOWaste project had significant EU environmental policy and legislation implications. In particular, the project results are coherent with the EU Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste (COM (2005) 666 final and Directive 2008/98/EC). The project focuses on turning waste into a resource and phasing out wasteful practices like landfilling. Therefore, the project supports the 2014 EU Communication "Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe".

At national level, LOWaste, in alliance with other EU-funded waste management projects, presented to the Italian government a plea for environmental regulation reform, in order to overcome some of the existing legislative barriers slowing the waste reuse and recycling sector. The project demonstrated that both local waste production and the use of raw materials can be reduced by developing a local market for second life products. The creation of areas like the LOWaste district can also lead to increased local employment, involve social cooperatives and disadvantaged people, and help the emergence of new forms of entrepreneurship and eco-sustainable innovation.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Waste - Waste reduction - Raw material saving
Waste - Waste recycling


urban area‚  waste recycling‚  reuse of materials

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 75/442/EEC -"Waste framework directive" (15.07.1975)
  • COM(2014)398 - "Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe" (02.07.2014)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Local authority
Description Ferrara is a municipality in north-eastern Italy, particularly concerned with the implementation of sustainable development measures.
Partners HERA S.P.A., Italy La Città Verde Società Cooperative Sociale ARL, Italy IMPRONTA ETICA, Italy Reuse and Recycling European Union Social Enterprises, Belgium


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/IT/000373
Duration 01-SEP-2011 to 30-JUN -2014
Total budget 1,109,000.00 €
EU contribution 554,500.00 €
Project location Emilia-Romagna(Italia)


Read more:

Brochure "The Market of Recycled Products of Ferrara is Born"
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Italian version)
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link "LOWaste expo: Ferrara, 4 Aprile 2014, Sessione: LOWaste Talk" (IT - 11')
Video link "Quanto ci costa smaltirli?" (IT - 2')
Video link "LoWaste: Don't throw away the future" (2')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version