Getting familiar and getting inspired by best practices from Germany, that was the goal of around 40 waste management stakeholders from Moldova attending a virtual study trip on circular economy. Representing municipal and private waste companies as well as the civil society and local and central public administrations, the Moldovans had a chance to virtually visit a total of 7 companies and organisations during the three days from April 11 to April 13.

One of their destinations was one of the German leading municipal waste management companies, AWG, in Wuppertal – it counts as one of the biggest and most innovative incineration plants in Europe. One of the impressive parts of this company is that it also serves as a waste-to-energy plant: the energy released during the incineration of the waste is used to supply electricity and heat in Wuppertal. The participants were “walked” through the waste incineration process. They were able to ask questions while walking through the plant and discuss about the opportunities of the valorisation of household waste e.g., to create energy and other resources out of the process. Impressive was as well the fact that the air coming out of the plant’s chimney is “cleaner than the air in the Wuppertal valley” as Mr. Krause from AWG said.

The participants also visited one of the top ten German private waste management companies, Hündgen. The participants were “walked” through the impressive labyrinth-like innovative waste sorting process. The final products from the whole process can for example be sold to produce again new products (around 55% of the final products) and to produce energy to produce cement (around 25% of the final product).

“I found it very impressive to get to know these different approaches and through the live stream it almost felt as if I was walking through the facility myself.” said Paula Ortega, one of the organisers of this virtual event.

Besides these two impressive live-streams, the participants got to know more about existing regulations, exchanged about challenges – both in Moldova and Germany – , learned about innovative approaches and possible entry points for start-ups in the field of circular economy, and listened to the experience of Kiel – the first German city aiming at becoming a Zero Waste City.

One of the main learnings of the virtual study trip was the importance of the different stakeholders in the development of a circular system. Public and private sector together with the civil society are the creators of a functioning system.

All participants enjoyed this 3-day study trip and agreed that although being an online format, it almost felt like a study trip in person. And who knows… Maybe soon a city in Moldova will also be able to call itself a Zero Waste City, or in a few years the Republic of Moldova will be able to contribute to the country’s heat supply through waste incineration and thus also to less dependence on gas.

The study tour was organised by the GIZ Project Modernisation of local public services in the Republic of Moldova in cooperation with the Regional Office West and the International Delegations Team.