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VOICES Reports

  • May 2014
  • EU and governance
  • Report

VOICES conducted 100 focus groups in science centres and museums across 27 EU member states, engaging European citizens on the topic of 'urban waste as a resource'. The overall EU report brings together the findings of these consultations from across Europe. It draws conclusions on a European level about citizens' opinions, hopes, fears and ideas about urban waste as a resource. It also details how the European Commission used these results to shape and strengthen EU research priorities, bringing the citizens' voices into the policymaking process.

VOICES at a glance

The findings of the VOICES full European report are also summarised in a helpful document, which gives a succinct overview of the project, how its outcomes can be used by a range of stakeholders, and the key messages from European citizens which have been used to shape EU research priorities.

Download the VOICES Final Report and At a Glace.

Country Reports

Each of the 27 reports explains the process of the VOICES consultation, goes into depth on the results of each country and draws out the specific findings relevant to that country on the topic of 'urban waste as a resource'.

Full, anonymised transcripts of focus groups in all 27 countries are available upon request. Please contact Marzia Mazzonetto (mmazzonetto@ecsite.eu) with the details of your requirements.

Download each VOICES Country Report below.

Evaluation Reports

Ecsite commissioned an independent evaluation in order to corroborate the quality of the project and the participatory processes, and to provide suggestions for improvements in the future. Two reports have been produced by the two selected evaluators. The first report is focused on an evaluation of the focus group processes per se. The second report looks at the quality of the project as a whole, integrating and contextualising the current results into the bigger picture.

Download VOICES 1st Evaluation and 2nd Evaluation Report.

VOICES key findings

VOICES took as its subject matter the topic of urban waste as a resource, and the concept of a "zero waste society". Fitting with the aims of RRI, key findings of the project can be grouped into two key categories.

  • VOICES validates the EU's current priorities of research and policies on urban waste
    • Citizens want less packaging, and more efficient packaging materials. They want to see 100% biodegradable packaging, and plastics that can be fully recycled without loss of quality.
    • They want it to be easier to recycle and reuse products.
    • They want manufacturers to be regulated more heavily, taking responsibility for the lifespan and recycling of their products, and ending planned obsolescence.
    • More recycling points are needed at convenient locations.
    • They want incineration plants to be used as much as possible to produce heat and energy.
  • VOICES also proposes new ways to strengthen current research
    • European citizens feel convenience in the household is crucial. This is a part of waste management often neglected by research. There is a clear need for devices to facilitate sorting and compacting in the home ("smart bins"), or technology which allows waste to be used as a resource in the household.
    • Citizens want to feel the benefit of waste separation. This can be done by making incentives, deposit systems and reward schemes more widespread.
    • Education and communication are crucial. Citizens are largely unaware of what happens to their waste, and would feel more engaged in the process if knowledge was more widespread.
    • Technology can be a motivation to recycle in itself. Citizens feel that systems using chips, electronic tags and apps can help to empower people in the recycling process.

Using VOICES outcomes

VOICES outcomes are intended to be used by many types of stakeholders, for a range of purposes.

Policy: VOICES shows the determination of the European Commission to give European citizens the opportunity to have their say on societal challenges in the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. Gilles Laroche, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
Education and Outreach: VOICES provides science centres an opportunity to learn the visitors' needs. Through this kind of consultation project we can much better understand the needs of our visitors and much better develop ways to address them. Robert Firmhofer, Director, Copernicus Science Centre, Warsaw, Poland
Advocacy: Municipalities are always looking for methods and systems through which to manage waste more sustainably, with the interests of citizens in mind. For them, consultations such as VOICES offer an excellent opportunity to promote local issues at EU level, but also to better understand citizen expectations of their municipality in terms of information on their local waste management system and its implementation. Vanya Veras, Secretary General, MWE (Municipal Waste Europe)
Research: It is clear that convenience in households is, from a citizen's point of view, one of the most important issues, and hence absolutely justified to talk about. To a certain extent the increase of convenience by new waste technologies may therefore also be a good way to make people support modern waste management. Matthias Rapf, Institute of Sanitary Engineering, Water Quality and Waste Management Group Resources Management and Industrial Wastes (RIK), Stuttgart University, Germany
Public engagement: I wouldn't have expected the European Commission to take my opinions into account like this. I'm proud that my voice helped shape the way European researchers work on urban waste. Paco Francisco, VOICES focus group participant, Granada, Spain

Full, anonymised transcripts of focus groups in all 27 countries are available upon request. Please contact Marzia Mazzonetto (mmazzonetto@ecsite.eu) with the details of your requirements.

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VOICES was a ground-breaking consultation, using the opinions of people across the EU to shape the future of European research. 1,000 citizens participated in focus groups run by Ecsite members, expressing their hopes, fears, concerns and ideas on the theme of urban waste. The results of this consultation have directly informed policy, as they were fed into several research calls for the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme.