No Waste: promoting a circular lifestyle in the Dolomite mountains

An international collaboration in the cross-border area of Italy and Austria aimed at a more circular way of processing local crops has increased tourism and tourist services. At the same time, the No Waste project has highlighted the relevancy of a more sustainable way of life.

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The Rifugio Cercenà mountain cabin in the Dolomites. ©Certottica Scrl The Rifugio Cercenà mountain cabin in the Dolomites. ©Certottica Scrl

" So far, the project has led to the identification and development of a network with stakeholders that allows us to build up the geographic information system platform and disseminate the information material that our partners are producing. "

Giuseppe Da Cortà, Project Coordinator

The project set out to address the existing waste problem throughout the popular network of alpine huts in the Dolomite mountains, while at the same time boosting the region’s tourism sector by creating a thematic tourist itinerary aimed at promoting a circular economy. 

The project created a No Waste concept to identify places and products with a low environmental impact and a circular lifecycle, to stimulate visitors and tourists to consider a healthier, more sustainable way of life. 

Mapping the region’s history

The thematic tourist route focuses on three of the region’s traditional crops: flax, hemp and nettle. The basic components of these crops are used to produce a wide variety of products, without any waste throughout their lifecycle. 

The project developed a database with a geographic information system (GIS) related to the circular production of these crops, mapping points of interest with historical, cultural, technological and scientific information across the cross-border area. 

Through guides, videos, articles, illustrative material, workshops and information sessions, the project promoted the itinerary as part of educational activities for regional schools or travel activities for tourist companies. The goal is to emphasise the importance of exploiting resources to their full potential. 

Visitors can use the GIS to locate farmers, producers, cultivators and commercial activities, and also museums and historical sites that showcase the region’s natural and cultural heritage, restaurants and hotels, and info points about the project’s ambitions and efforts.

Back to the roots of Europe’s crops

Both flax, hemp and nettle represent the perfect example of no waste lifecycle products as they grow very rapidly, require no heavy maintenance or pesticides to survive and every component is a base product for something else: fibres for paper, textiles or composite materials, seeds for traditional food and oils and extracts for cosmetics. The project promotes understanding about how these crops can be processed without producing any waste and how they can contribute to a circular economy without having to impose disruptive and costly changes to their production process.

The project was set up by Italian research institute, Certottica, in collaboration with the department of life sciences of the University of Trieste, and Wood K Plus, an Austrian research institute that specialises in wood and wood-related materials and renewable resources. Through their efforts, tourism and tourist services in the cross-border area of Italy and Austria have been boosted, leading to new economic opportunities.

All three crops have deep roots in Europe’s history. Flax was one of the more prominent crops in Italy, used as fibre for the weaving of linen. Italy was the second-largest cultivator and producer of hemp in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. Between the two world wars, nettle was often used to replace cotton, which had become unobtainable at that time.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “No Waste - Improved biodiversity for waste-free exploitation of traditional crops” is EUR 417 825, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 330 479 through the “Interreg Italy-Austria” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Energy Union and Climate”.


Draft date