CARE project aims to transform households towards circularity
Circular economy goals are currently one of the most significant initiatives in Europe and globally. The aim of these initiatives is to maximise the value of the resources we are using and to promote sustainable development.
CARE (Circular consumption Activities to tRansform households towards material Efficiency) is a new and innovative Horizon Europe project that aims to promote a sustainable lifestyle and encourage households to take steps towards a circular economy across Europe. The CARE project aims to transform a total of 100 households into circular economy model households in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Norway, and Sweden.
The CARE project is led and coordinated by Professor Elina Närvänen, University Researcher Nina Mesiranta, University Lecturer Malla Mattila, Researcher Mari Ainasoja and Researcher Martta Vänskä who are members of the Wastebusters research group at the Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University.
In the kick-off event of the CARE project, Professor Närvänen emphasised the long-term goals of CARE.
“Accelerating a fair, inclusive and sustainable consumer-led transition to a circular economy is at the heart of the CARE project. By involving consumer citizens, NGOs, civil society, communities, and researchers, we are promoting an interdisciplinary approach based on co-creation and collaborative learning,” Närvänen said.
On 18–19 January 2024, the research group organised a kick-off meeting for the project partners from six countries. As part of the event, participants were given a tour of the premises and activities of Nextiili, a local textile recycling association.
Aiming to reduce household food and textile waste
The CARE project focuses on changing people’s daily practices, especially regarding the two critical material flows of food and clothing. These material flows are found to have significant potential for the circular economy because the environmental footprint of their consumption is relatively large at the household level.
The EU has set the goal of halving food waste at retail and household level by 2030. In addition, the EU’s new textile strategy defines measures to make both the clothing and textile industry and consumer behaviour more sustainable.
Households participating in the CARE project will take part in either food waste reduction or circular clothing consumption pilots, which will be carried out from 2025 to 2026. In addition to providing information, the pilots offer tools and community activities, and challenge households to change their practices. During the project, advisory services will also be provided for participating households to supplement the pilots to further promote sustainable consumption practices.
Tampere University and Ekokumppanit cooperate
Local partners, such as environmental NGOs and municipalities with previous experience in advisory services on energy efficiency or recycling, will play an important role in the development of advisory services and in the design and implementation of the pilots. Tampere University’s CARE partner is Ekokumppanit (EcoFellows Ltd), which provides communication, consultation, training, and expert services. Its services promote the sustainable lifestyle and business. Ekokumppanit is a non-profit, social enterprise that is part of the Tampere City Group.
For years, Ekokumppanit has been working to reduce the environmental impact of food and textile consumption, for example, with food waste campaigns for schools and SWAP! clothing exchange events. It has also been a project partner in the FUSILLI project that strives to improve the sustainability of the food system.
“We are excited to develop and experiment with new advisory services in cooperation with households and other project partners. Our consultation will help households to make their food and clothing consumption more circular. In the research-based CARE project, we will be able to make our services in these important themes even more notable,” says Project Manager Sanna Teinilä from Ekokumppanit.
“In the project, Ekokumppanit will recruit different kinds of households to participate in circular economy pilots, so those interested should start following Ekokumppanit on social media, for example, on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn,” Teinilä suggests.
With the help of local partners, the project can effectively utilise local infrastructure and existing practices and services in different countries. A special focus of the project will be on peer learning, not only among the households but also among the project partners.
The research group at Tampere University is responsible for the administration and coordination of the entire project.
“Our Wastebusters research group is very happy about the EU Horizon funding we received for this international project and about the opportunity to lead this large consortium. The core idea of the project is based on our long-term research activities on circular economy themes,” says Professor Närvänen.
The entire budget of the project is about €5.5 million, of which Tampere University's share is around €1 million.
Professor Elina Närvänen
tel. 050 435 2137, elina.narvanen [at] tuni.fi (elina[dot]narvanen[at]tuni[dot]fi)
Project Manager Sanna Teinilä
tel. 050 364 6022, sanna.teinila [at] tampere.fi (sanna[dot]teinila[at]tampere[dot]fi)
The Circular consumption Activities to tRansform households toward material Efficiency (CARE) project is carried out by 11 consortium partners:
- Tampere University, Finland
- Ekokumppanit (EcoFellows Ltd), Finland
- Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
- Asker municipality, Norway
- Lund University, Sweden
- IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Sweden
- CSCP Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production, Germany
- Die Verbraucher Initiative, Germany
- Lääne-Harju municipality, Estonia
- Let’s Do It Foundation, Estonia
- BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria