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Changing the game in household waste sorting

Sustainable Cities and Communities; Climate Action; Clean Water and Sanitation; Responsible Consumption and Production

About The Challenge 

Households produce a variety of waste which require different disposal methods. However, in Lithuania, municipal solid waste that ends up at mechanical biological treatment plants consists of ~20% of reusable material (plastic, paper, metal, glass material). Despite the fact that food waste is the main cause of contamination in other recycling streams, the skills of Kaunas region population in segregation of kitchen and food waste are almost non-existing. If treated properly at primary sorting, the number of recycled materials would increase significantly and secondary materials would not be landfilled or incinerated.

Municipalities are searching for new ways to encourage citizens to recycle at home. Therefore, this challenge aims to create an innovative way to help, motivate and teach people to recycle.

Current state
Kaunas region is one of the largest regions in Lithuania (including Kaunas city, Kaunas district, Jonava district, Raseiniai district, Kėdainiai district and Kaišiadorys district municipalities). It also has one of the highest population concentrations in Lithuania. This leads to the situation that Kaunas region has large enough amount of municipal waste which includes solid, kitchen and food, and other waste. 

The challenge solutions would help to reach the National Waste Prevention and Management plan for 2021-2027 goals, which were determined in compliance with the Directives of the European Parliament and Council. The plan states that by 2030 landfilling must consist only <5% of generated waste treatment, 11% of nationally used materials should be secondary materials, and not less than 12 000 tons of recycled material must be reused. Moreover, in the beginning of 2024 the segregation of kitchen and food waste in Lithuania must be started. However, citizens of Kaunas region have little skills in segregation of kitchen and food waste.

It would be simpler to achieve these goals if citizens’ environmental awareness increases. Therefore, it is important to find new ways to encourage primary sorting at households.

Desired state - potential impact
The solution for the challenge might be a method, technology or guideline that would simplify sorting process in households and engage citizens in recycling at home. 

Target Groups

Citizens, government.

The challenge of motivating and encouraging people to recycle is important to everyone who cares about our planet Earth. Recycling, being of the goals for sustainable and circular development, reduces the need of extracting and processing new materials, prevents pollution, saves energy, etc.

The video made by “Kūrybos kampas 360“ introduces how municipal waste is treated in Vilnius waste sorting center. The video visualizes how many potentially reusable materials are brought to sorting facilities because of improper or non-existent primary sorting in households. (visual material, dialogues in Lithuanian).

Learning offer

The challenge will be solved in the module “Development of Challenge-Based Innovation” (6 ECTS), delivered by experienced teamchers of Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania). 

Syllabus of the module.

Duration: 01 03 2022 – 31 05 2022

Application deadline: 26 02 2022

Workload: 6 ECTS. 160 academic hours: 32 academic hours of online meetings with teamchers, 128 academic hours of individual and group work. Students will work in multi-disciplinary and international teams together with peer students, the teamcher (University lecturer) and the challenge provider.

Format: Online. The challenge will be solved in Kaunas, Lithuania. It involves virtual student mobility. Physical mobility is encouraged, but not mandatory.

Learning objectives and competence development: Waste management, waste sorting. Challenge-based learning approach, effective teamwork and leadership, interdisciplinary and intercultural communication, project management, critical analysis, creativity, competitiveness and pitching an idea, resilience to failure. 

Eligiability: Students of ECIU member universities. Enrolled in a master’s degree programme, or 3rd or 4th year of a bachelor’s degree programme (completed at least 120 ECTS at Bachelor’s level). 

Credit type: 6 ECTS. Transcript of records from Kaunas University of Technology (with title and ECTS of the module), ECIU certificate from ECIU University (with title, duration and provider of the challenge). 

Number of seats available: 15


Kaunas University of Technology


Kaunas Region Waste Management Center

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