SIRCLES project: when circular economy and social inclusion go hand in hand
It is a beautiful winter day, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. The wind is cold and invigorating. It is January 26, 2023, World Environmental Education Day, and the partners of the SIRCLES project have organized an institutional visit to the composting site in Catalonia.
People call, they have trouble finding the place. It's confusing, it's like we had to take the main entrance to 'Port Aventura', the most visited amusement park in Spain, but in fact, we shouldn't hesitate to take a path in the middle of carob and olive trees to find the composting site installed by the Formació i Treball Foundation (FITEI), partner of the SIRCLES project, in the municipality of Vila-Seca in the province of Tarragona in Spain.
Between composting boxes, wheelbarrows and shredders, workers stir up the mounds of compost, the fruit of their labor and the collection of organic waste from the surrounding area, in particular from the hotels and restaurants around the amusement park.
One year after its inauguration, the site is 100% operational. Not only did the partners manage to negotiate with the municipality to have the land transferred to them, they signed agreements with establishments in the hotel sector to collect organic waste, acquired machines, tools and vehicles, trained around thirty young at risk of social exclusion, hired some of these young people, collaborated with a vegetable garden of the charity CARITAS in Reus in Catalonia but in addition they produce high quality fertilizer.
At a time when the price of fertilizers is soaring, partly because of the war in Ukraine, being able to locally produce natural fertilizer rich in nitrate and phosphate while creating jobs is a godsend. It is not for nothing that the Waste Agency of Catalonia, coordinator of the SIRCLES project, considers this compost to be a treasure. This pun (Tresor in Catalan (tres or): three times gold), could sum up this triple benefit: contribution to the local economy, job creation and production of a rich fertilizer while respecting the environment, all in a circular economy approach.
Let's hope that by the end of the project, there will be a buyer who will guarantee the continuity of this project and that the similar composting sites which have been set up within the framework of this same SIRCLES project in Tunisia, Greece and Lebanon as well as the actions carried out in Italy, Jordan and Palestine will also be examples to replicate and will contribute to a better management of organic waste in the Mediterranean.