While the rate of recycling in Europe has increased in the last 10-20 years, the rate of landfilling has not decreased to the same extent. Eco-innovative concepts, the use of sustainability criteria in supply chains and the objective of a circular economy require that waste has to be reduced to a minimum and the remnants shall be treated as a new resource. All stakeholders in a society, industry, professional associations, policy makers, and also citizens, need to join forces for such an endeavour.
Originally, the ReNEW network was partly funded through Interreg IVb NWE. Being a European initiative bringing together universities, technical centres & experts, SMEs, and existing clusters, the partners combine actively their specific competencies in the field to generate synergies. ReNEW’s objective is to explore new ways to extract valuable resources – such as metals, nutrients and chemicals from household and industrial waste. ReNEW facilitates networking, providing consultancy, and sharing expertise. By setting up an innovation vouchers scheme the network also provides in particular support to the innovation competences of firms.
In order to innovate the waste supply chain, four main objectives are addressed:
- Encourage the producers to develop new business models for raw materials recycling;
- Support practices which improve the rate of resource efficiency – for recycling and resource recovery;
- Encourage best practice in waste management,
- Raising awareness.
An important instrument of ReNEW is an online tool, the ReNEW knowledge platform. It provides information on different sections: publications, contacts, learning background material, EC documents as well as papers on product design, circular economy, resource recovery, and the emerging resource recovery economy. ReNEW also offers some financial support, and invites interested companies to apply for vouchers to cover 50% of research and innovation needs, and up to a maximum of €10,000 of the total project value. With the help of a simple questionnaire interested individuals, SMEs and companies can contribute to the debate, and shape the EU and National Government policy for industrial needs. ReNEW’s goal is to make the pilot-scale technical trials a tool to reach a better performance standard.
The concept of ReNEW is ready for full-scale implementation, qualifying it for an estimated level 5 on the generic maturity scale GML. The main aim of the network is to develop and support innovation along the waste supply chain with the objective to promote the recovery of valuable materials in high quality. With its tools and instruments ReNEW supports the professionalisation of stakeholders as well as effectively disseminating knowledge. By its work ReNEW helps to reduce the carbon footprint associated with downcycling and wasting, by promoting advanced mechanisms of waste reduction. Since partners were required to provide 50% matched funding  the network sought to deploy a sustainable approach from the very beginning. ReNEW supports moving towards a circular economy and has an ultimate goal of achieving zero waste.