With the Styrian Waste Management Plan 2019, the Provincial Government of Styria has committed itself to the path towards a resource-efficient circular economy. The increased re-use of goods and resources plays a pivotal role in this process.
Within the framework of the Recy&DepoTech conference that took place in November 2020, Ms. Ingrid Winter, Head of Department for Waste and Resource Management of the Provincial Government of Styria and one of the SUBTRACT project partners, presented a strategic vision for making a significant step forward in the circular economy of Styria by 2050 setting out concrete strategies, goals and approaches for the coming years.
Improving framework conditions for re-use through a strategic roadmap for economically viable business models for re-use centres, a better handling of waste from construction and demolition sector as well as plastics reduction through circular-oriented approaches are considered priority fields of action for boosting the regional circular economy. Progress in these areas can only be achieved by strengthening the cooperation networks and exchange of experience. The Provincial Government of Styria is currently participating in this context in three related Interreg Europe projects CONDEREFF, PLASTECO and SUBTRACT.
The Province of Styria has long been implementing different incentives related to re-use, including promotion of reusable systems at events within the framework of the "G’scheit Feiern" initiative, establishment of a re-use system for Styrian wine bottles as well as a Styrian repair guide or the pilot project "Repair Bonus Styria 2019", among others. Another important tool, to be launched later this year, is the so called “Styrian Re-use Map”, an easy-accessible information platform for people and companies seeking re-use products (B to B and B to C).
Since the adoption of the Recycled Construction Materials Regulation (Recycling-Baustoffverordnung) back in 2016, there has been a growing interest towards reused materials and elements from the construction and demolition (C&D) sector in Austria. Within the framework of the project CONDEREFF the potential for improved selective dismantling of reusable components and high-quality recyclable materials is currently being explored. Based on the outcomes of the project the “Styrian Guide for Construction and Demolition Waste” that has been designed for different groups of stakeholders active in the C&D sector has been updated.
However, additional efforts are required to promote re-use and preparing for re-use activities at the regional level, with a particular focus on increasing competitiveness of SMEs working in the re-use sector. Many challenges and opportunities for SMEs active in the re-use sector have been already discussed during the stakeholder meetings organized within the framework of the project SUBTRACT. A guide summarizing major legal requirements associated with the collection and handling of the reused goods, binding regulations to deal with returned goods in online retailing, an online networking platform for re-use companies and an improved marketing, among others, have been identified as important measures to strengthen the re-use sector in Styria.