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Guimaraes on their 3-step strategy to become plastics free!

date
13-10-2020

EUROCITIES has teamed-up with WWF to take the fight against plastic to the global level with the Plastic Smart Cities Initiative. The EUROCITIES Plastic Declaration is the European branch of this global battle to take back control of our cities, significantly reducing plastic consumption and eliminating single-use plastic all together.

Among the cities that already signed the Plastics Declaration are Helsinki, Oslo, Bergen, Mezitli, Malaga, Porto, Braga, Zaragoza, Varna, Florence, Turin, Mannheim, Reims, Munster, Dusseldorf, Ghent, Dortmund, Amsterdam, Bristol, Leeds and Guimaraes  - you can check out all the signatories on the map of the Plastic Smart Cities website). We’re gathering good practices from our signature cities to see how signing the Plastics Declaration has influenced their action on plastics. Check out how Guimaraes has been tackling plastic pollution below…

How has signing the Plastics Declaration affected the action you are taking as a city?

This was a big moment for Guimarães as it reinforced our commitment to sustainable development. A 3-steps strategy was stablished - Guimarães for plastic free - adding transformation, innovation and awareness. In first step we look to City Council activity tracking all the situations that we could remove single-use plastics. Also we are greening our public procurement policy, reducing our environmental impact. In the second step several research institutions and private sector were challenged to search for new and innovate solutions. Finally, by offering alternatives to conventional plastics, we are trying to changing our citizens’ behaviours raising awareness to the negative impacts of single-use plastics.

What problem does your good practice address?

Guimarães tackle down several actions under Guimarães for plastic free strategy focused on school’s activities, tourism and commerce, local markets and rivers. At Guimarães, daily Local markets and weekly fairs are an essential activity gathering almost half a million citizens per year. By acting on this context we are engaging more people in Guimarães strategy to achieve our main goal: to be plastic free. This strategy has two main targets: raising awareness and giving alternatives affecting consumers’ behaviours and decisions.

What is your good practice?

Guimarães implemented an action plan to reduce and remove single-use plastics in local markets and fairs. At Guimarães, daily Local markets and weekly fairs are an essential activity gathering almost half a million citizens per year. In a first phase, the branding “Let’s go to our market!” was created appealing our citizens to shop on local markets. Ten thousand cloth-bags stamped were distributed to local citizens encouraged them to replace the single-use plastic bag. Also, 25,000 biodegradable-bags were given to sellers to replace single use plastics bag commonly used by citizens to put their own products. Once at home, citizens can also use this biodegradable-bags as waste-bags. Both actions represented a direct investment from Municipality budget and it was the first time in history that Municipality did this time of purchase to influence citizens and sellers transformation.

What other measures ‘work’ with your good practice?

The 3-steps strategy stablished - Guimarães for plastic free – was based on transformation, innovation and awareness.

We want to lead by example so in the municipality activity (all the events and meetings) we stopped using single-use plastic challenging all the city’s public institutions to follow this vision.  By doing this we are encouraging innovation and demanding from our suppliers’ new solutions and alternatives with less environmental impact. As an example, water supply company VIMÁGUA, developed a glass bottle to replace the use of single-se plastics bottles. This measure also contributed to encourage the consumption of the high quality water from public water system. Also they designed a reusable water bottle to voluntary distribute among all the students of Guimarães. It’s a reusable that can be washed, customized and easy to carry fitting on the lunchbox.

Being Guimarães a cultural and vibrant city, in our major events we are promoting the use of alternatives to conventional plastics such as the reusable cups to replace disposable plastics cups - CARE.  CARE involves purchasing a reusable cup leaving a deposit of one euro, than people can choose to take the cup home (and bring it another time) or to deliver it to get their euro back. As example, in the UEFA league 2019, reusable- plastic cups were distributed to all the bars and restaurants of the city replacing disposable cups.

As example of transformation through promotion of innovative solutions, the Landscape Laboratory of Guimarães (a partnership between City Council and Universities and private institutions) launched a project – Guimarães Aqualastic - funded by National Ministry for Environment aiming at collecting the plastics from rivers using “Eco-barriers” and use them to sensitize our communities to the impact of the plastics on the Ecosystems. All the collected plastics will be transformed in new products to community use (urban furniture, merchandizing, etc.). A shock-advertising campaign is being developed to awareness all community.

We are facing a Pandemic crisis where the use of masks are becoming crucial to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus.  This brought a new problem as some people are disposing single-use masks all over the place having direct impacts on local ecosystems but also increasing Ocean pollution. To tackle this situation, City Council distributed more than 200,000 reusable masks in paper-bags instead of single use masks in plastic bags.

Key success factors

  • Since 2015 that Guimarães developed a strategy named “Guimarães more than Green” engaging citizens, universities, private sector, schools …
  • Strong reduction of Plastic and single-use plastic in local markets and fairs. This action showcase of our commitment to Plastics declaration.
  • This action contributes to our Green Public Procurement policy.

Lessons learnt

  • We’ve realized that by signing the Plastic declaration we need to move forward implementing at local level news strategies.
  • We’ve realized the importance of sharing ideas and good practices between cities trough EUROCITIES network.
  • Generally we’ve realized how this type of initiatives (declarations) can bring to political discussion important environment themes.
  • Bringing the private sector and research institutions on board.

Additonal info: http:// https://www.guimaraesmaisverde.pt/

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