As part of its activities within the SMART WASTE project, the Municipality of Kolding evaluated and improved its Waste Management Plan 2022-2030 (WMP 2022-2030). Thanks to this, circular economy principles play a much bigger role in the waste plan that functions as a sector plan in the municipality and creates the basis for the city council’s work for 2022-2026. This is the first policy improvement resulting from the SMART WASTE project.

Results from the evaluation

The internal process of identifying and matching good practices and failures took place throughout 2020 and brought interesting results. Three key areas of improvement were identified:

  1. Design and stakeholder inclusion — Utilizing the design approach that is the basis for Kolding Municipality's vision statement “Together we design life”. This has especially resulted in a limited inclusion of stakeholders and feedback from citizens.
  2. Framework for project execution and evaluation — Both formulation and execution of the projects in the Waste Management Plan 2020 could also be improved, since there was little to no strategy for evaluation or criteria for success.
  3. Focus on circular economy — There was an organizational need for a strategic circular framework to reduce resistance in the bureaucratic processes and make sure that action was being taken to facilitate the transition to circular economy.

Towards a new Waste Management Plan

In June 2021, Kolding started working on the new Waste Management Plan, considering the results mentioned above.

Circular economy now occupies a large part of the Waste Management Plan. The municipality's Circular Economy Strategy is incorporated into the Waste Management Plan, and so the plan has been given a new structure.

To make sure the plan is relevant to all - citizens, businesses, politicians and additional stakeholders - a much higher focus has been put on inclusion in its design. Citizens have been interviewed and questionnaires have been sent to both businesses and citizens in the municipality. In addition, Kolding organized a series of workshops that focus on introducing the concepts (and the complexity) of circular economy and sustainability and gathering feedback from municipal employees and heads of administration. 

This approach produced great results. At the end of August 2021, Kolding had received 242 completed questionnaires from businesses and 180 from citizens.  Visits to local areas in the municipalities, towns and villages led to 252 interviews with citizens.

As a bonus, the Municipality understood in a better way its stakeholders’ perception and the blind spots that need to be addressed. This clearly shows that the new focus areas in the Waste Management Plan have legitimacy, since the awareness of the impact of consumption and waste production is generally quite low. 

Meet the Project Kit

The improvement developed by Kolding Municipality has been named, the Project Kit. It is a tool to secure essential project information for execution and evaluation that is being developed alongside the waste management plan. This tool will link the organizations’ key performance indicators and goals (including those in the waste management plan), to simple and easy-to-use-and-understand project descriptions, that can be used regardless of level of professional experience and expertise. 
Instead of just focusing on waste management, the plan focus is now threefold in accordance with the waste hierarchy:

  1. Better waste sorting (waste management and recycling);
  2. Produce less waste (recycling, repairing and maintaining);
  3. Better consumption (prevention of waste).

Next steps until 2030

The next steps for Kolding Municipality are to develop the Waste Management Plan even more and convert all the great feedback received into realizable goals and projects. Simultaneously, it continues to develop the Project Kit to support the final execution and evaluation of the plan and subsequent projects along with the learning and developments these produce.

Improving a WMP is one thing, but implementing and securing a continuous use of the Project Kit in the organization is quite another! The goal is to create a tool that anyone can use to improve their strategic development regardless of their previous level of experience and professional background. This is important to address the serious weakness of person-centered knowledge and projects, which leaves organizations vulnerable when employees move on.

It is foreseen that the City Council will approve the new Waste Management Plan in September 2022. After a four-year period of execution and evaluation of projects, the plan will be revised in 2026. The remaining time, until 2030, will be dedicated to the completion of the Waste Management Plan and the evaluation of its overall impact.

Thanks to the SMART WASTE project and the policy evaluation realized by the Kolding Municipality, a circular economy is well on its way in Kolding and will become a secured aspect of projects in the period 2022-2030.