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ZeWaLab - Zero Waste Lab

A Lab that will mingle minds, bind skills, push for inventiveness and trigger brave action towards a zero-waste future

Photo of Ana Salcedo
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The main motivation of the ZWL is to create bottom-up pressure to trigger the redesign / reframing of the urban waste handling system, addressing first and foremost the lifecycle of plastics and, gradually, other waste. 

The goal is to involve all stakeholders in the materials life cycle of cities, to raise awareness and participatory responsibility, stimulate reflection and mobilize society to drastically change behavior in waste production and management, fostering sustainable development and promoting a circular economy where waste and environmental impact move towards zero. 

The ZWL aims to host and bring together the community of innovators, researchers, activists, entrepreneurs and artists dedicated to waste, through an effective program of workshops, meet-ups, try-outs, networking events that encourage information sharing, foster cooperative reflection and encourage smart synergies for effective prototyping, testing, and scaling of solutions towards a future of zero waste. 

So far ZWL has been operating through PlasticSunDays, an active platform running on Facebook, raising awareness and engaging civic responsibility regarding plastic pollution: 

> Organising beach cleaning initiatives, bringing together volunteers of all ages, working with artists and also engaging businesses to promote social responsibility and better practices within companies.

> Coordinated Educational program of LisbonWeek focused on plastic pollution and targeted 2000 students aged 6-12 from 13 schools during 6 months, bringing together different institutions, activists, artists, which resulted in many changes at the schools' use and handling of plastic, engagement from families, an exhibition and new student initiatives. 

> Created plastic0circular project, in collaboration with Circular Economy Portugal and Better Future Factory and supported by IdanhaCulta and Se-Lo Verde: a small scale recycling unit that invites anyone, hands-on and on the spot, to transform plastic waste into a new object through 3D printing. Besides the empowering recycling impact and visualization of what circularity can mean, this promotes a closing of the loop of the 3D printing universe, which still uses raw resources for its filament, while it should use recycled plastic. 

Video (with engagement) here: 

Our objectives with ZeWaLab:

1. Raise awareness and participatory responsibility, stimulate reflection and mobilize society to change behaviour in waste production and management, fostering sustainable development and promoting a circular economy where waste and environmental impact move towards zero;

2. Welcome and bring together the community of innovators, researchers, activists, entrepreneurs and artists dedicated to waste, through an effective program of activities that encourages information sharing, fosters cooperative reflection and encourages the expansion of synergies, towards a future of zero waste;

3. Operate urban physical spaces of reference that serve the community, inviting all those interested in improving their relationship with waste, also serving as a meeting point for all those dedicated to the zero-waste cause and the drive for a circular economy ;

4. Promote environmental citizenship through awareness raising campaigns, education and training, which will help to curb and reverse the increasing consumption and disposal of materials (in particular plastic) and inspire new and authentic ways of incorporating zero-waste and circularity into the everyone’s lives. 

5. Collaborate in relevant research projects, contribute to the dissemination of scientific knowledge and involve the scientific community in the measurement and quantification of the impact achieved, fundamental for building trust;

6. Enable technological innovation to create value in recycling, increase process efficiency throughout the material life cycle, and promote the transparency of processes; 

7. Cooperate with associations, movements or initiatives, public or private organisations, national and / or international, that fit our objectives;

8. Create increasing pressure to initiate the reformulation of urban waste treatment systems and encourage public policies that frame the life cycle of materials in the holistic perspective of the regenerative cycle of life;

9. Promote synergies with event organisers for large audiences in order to test good practices and raise public awareness;

10. Re-contextualise the way we humans work together, contribute to the accountability and approximation of all around a common goal, building a sustainable future, with respect for all of life, peace, balance and broad renewable prosperity.

Idea Title

ZeWaLab - Zero Waste Lab

Company / Organization Name

ZeWaLab Associação Lix0

Website - domain acquired, work in progress (in the meantime, find operating links here..)

Where are you / your team located?

Lisbon + Porto, Portugal

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

plastic0circular machines can transform this sort of waste into a new valuable resource, that can be used by any individual to create new useful 3D printed objects or/and an alternative coin that can then be used locally at eco-conscious businesses and organizations. Simultaneously, we continue working for the elimination of small format plastic through educational and awareness-raising initiatives with communities and creators for targeted, cross-pollinated and creative problem-solving.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

All 3 cases, though mostly 2 and 3

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

ZWL will soon open in 1 location in Lisbon, yet invited by the Municipality to open in 7 new Ecocenters in next 2yrs, each handling specific challenges of the neighborhood shared effectively with other units.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

#PlasticLessPorto is also taking off and engaging local stakeholders. We aim to develop mobile units to reach schools and municipalities across the country. Internationally, currently discussing integration in an eco-educational new project in Mozambique. The focus is to act very locally with engaged partners anywhere in the world, co-creating and benefiting from an extended network of shared practices+skills. ZWL part of #BreakFreeFromPlastic initiative aligned with a greater co-created vision.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.
  • Full-scale roll-out: You have developed a pilot, tested, and analyzed the impact of that pilot as it pertains to the problem scope. You are ready to expand the pilot significantly and begin to scale.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Our vision is to develop a model for ZWLs to become transformation spaces in every urban neighbourhood. The Municipality of Lisbon has embraced this vision and is providing the first 7 spaces for the ZWL to roll out its activities & bring together Stakeholders. Current focuses: equipping spaces adequately and bringing in the right teams with the best motivation and complementary skills to operate an effective program and build a dynamic network + adapt & scale successfully piloted initiatives

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

ZWL was born out of THNK Creative Leadership Program 2016 in Lisbon supporting the development of leaders to advance triple-bottom-line endeavours, fuelling +conscious social & sustainable businesses, shaped around a personal leadership journey and a team challenge exploring innovation techniques & dynamics. Lisbon Municipality was the Challenge Partner, introducing the waste reduction theme. ZWL is a direct answer to the Municipality’s ask with Lisbon as a nourishing bed to scale from

Tell us about your work experience

Entrepreneur at crossroads of technological innovation and renewable prosperity. Co-founder of ManifestoModa (non-toxic malaria protection), b4 as futurist trends analyst at Box1824. Am a projector

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

ZeWaLab Associação Lix0 is a non profit private association

1 comment

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Photo of Rosario Lago

An incredible hands-on project that not only creatively reintroduces plastic waste in circulation, tackling this major planetary problem but also, through the 3d printing, opens an array of imaginable and yet-to-be imagined solutions and products!