Hack the Urban Circular Economy – Webinar & Hackathon in January 2022

Artikkelikuva: Hack the Urban Circular Economy – Webinar & Hackathon in January 2022

The “Hack the Urban Circular Economy: Making Waste to Talk Digi” hackathon challenges teams to find innovative ways to enhance the circular economy in urban areas by finding digital solutions that address solid waste management.


Challenge Webinar: 11am-12:00pm (EET), 12 January, 2022
Register here

Submission Deadline: midnight (EET) 19 January, 2022

Hackathon Webinar Dates: 27-29 January, 2022
Register here


Although the circular economy is a popular topic particularly because of concerns surrounding climate change, urban solid waste solutions so far are not strong in the area of digitalisation. New research findings accomplished through surveys and workshops by the CroBoDDIT project in summer of 2020 have uncovered the need to combine the topics of urban public areas, solid waste management, individual behaviour, and digitalisation to find the strongest solutions that do not yet exist.

Helsinki, Finland has an advanced legal and operational framework for solid waste management in an urban context, but many opportunities remain to improve digitisation. As a launchpad for new ideas, Helsinki is an ideal starting place from which to scale into other EU communities — many with an even greater need for improvement of the circular economy.

As part of this challenge, winners will be endorsed to Testbed Helsinki for an opportunity to prototype their idea in Helsinki.


Your objective for this hackathon is to devise new solutions or improve on existing infrastructure (such as the solid waste management logistics chain already in place), creating commercially lucrative, deployable solutions to strengthen the circular economy in urban areas. Winning solutions will address all three of a) urban areas, b) digitalisation, and c) solid waste management. Solutions should consider the implications to a city, individual behaviour, and public spaces.


Helsinki’s new circular economy cluster program aims to both promote circular economy innovations and business as well as also help the city further its climate goals. Since the City of Helsinki has a strong role both as a client as well as a real estate developer and constructor in its own right, the circular economy cluster program will initially focus on improving circularity in the construction industry. The management and utilisation of material flows, for instance, requires multidisciplinary development as well as coordinated cooperation between different actors; and here digital solutions and platform services have important roles in advancing the circular economy and the new business based on it.

The Waste Act currently requires corporate customers to provide a Waste Transportation Document for specified material flows. Electronic waste transportation document applications are already available on the market, allowing more efficient management of material flows and tracking of transports. The electronic waste transportation document enables real-time monitoring and agile reporting of material flows for a wide range of uses. Real-time and easily accessible information makes operations more efficient, enhances collaboration between the different parties in the supply chain, and minimises errors along the way.

In this topic, participants are invited to propose idea-based solutions for coordinating material flows and logistics on construction and demolition sites to promote recycling and reuse. There are several construction and demolition sites going on at the same time and several operators on the sites. At present, waste transport data show that, as a rule, waste is transported from the collection point to further treatment. The aim is to promote the circular economy of materials, but the route of materials transport is often “linear”. How can this be fixed in a meaningful way? Data available on invoiced waste transports 2020-2021 (xlsm, in Finnish: this and other materials to be provided to hackathon participants) Could the transport route be such that materials would be collected from more than one site in the same truck? What technical aspects would be needed to facilitate this? What about the same in terms of reuse and recycling of materials? How could supply and demand be better matched and what would be the economic or operational benefits?

Based on volume, Construction and Demolition waste is the largest waste stream in the EU. The aim is for Finland to reach the target set by the EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) of 70% of construction and demolition waste to be reused or recycled. Conducting a Pre-demolition Audit plays an important role here. Pre-demolition audit is a new, voluntary measure for the mapping out the materials and hazardous substances in buildings to be demolished. The purpose of the audits is to create good conditions for the appropriate use of demolition materials and a high quality demolition process, and to avoid environmental and health risks. Finnish pre-demolition audit is based on EU initiated audit procedure.

To support the pre-demolition audit, the Ministry of the Environment has created a form for reporting on harmful substances, reusable building components and other demolition materials.

In this topic, we challenge participants to create an idea-based solution for a digital tool to identify materials at a demolition site. The tool could be used to communicate information between the demolition auditor, the client and the demolition contractor. The tool could show in digital format the elements to be reused, their dimensions, quantities, locations in the building and other information needed by the demolition contractor. Instructions for further processing would also be included. The requested tool offers an out-of-the-box, innovative and smart approach for a possible automatic / semi-automatic identification of the type and quantity of demolition materials.

More information
Purkukartoitus – opas laatijalle (in Finnish: this and other information will be provided to hackathon participants)
Purkukartoituksen raportointilomake (xlsm) (Pre-demolition audit reporting form (xlsm)) In the pre-demolition audit reporting form, the “Building components” (“Rakennusosat”) tab reports materials and building components that the auditor believes have potential for reuse and should be recovered intact and found for reuse.
Building components and materials can be divided into 21 different categories (e.g. concrete elements, bricks, timber, metal beams, windows, doors, furniture, lamps).

Several smart waste management solutions have already been introduced in Finland to promote recycling and increase the sorting rate. In many urban areas, waste management is organised on a regional basis, for example through deep collection points or innovative pipeline-based waste collection systems. Several companies have also developed a range of smart bins for household use or for use in public areas in cities.

The reformed Waste Act entered into force in July 2021. The amendment will accelerate recycling and circular economy. In practice, the new waste management rules mean that properties consisting of at least five apartments must have a waste collection point where mixed waste, biowaste, cardboard, paper, plastic packaging, metal packaging and glass are sorted separately. In 2025, 55% of municipal waste will have to be recycled in Finland, and by 2035, 65%. In Europe, several countries have adopted a “pay as you throw” system of waste collection, which provides a greater incentive to sort waste than a fixed waste fee.

In a survey conducted in the CroBoDDIT project (2020), ideas emerged on the use of sensors to promote e.g. increasing the sorting rate. Development ideas included innovative sensors to indicate when a waste bin is full and when it needs to be emptied, waste bins that recognise the contents of the waste, or sensors that identify the type, quantity and moisture of waste.

In this topic, we challenge participants to create an innovative idea-level plan or solution to the question: what new technologies can be tested and used in solid waste management to increase the sorting rate and to map the amount of waste per consumer? How can sensors be best used to monitor, for example, the filling of waste bins or the composition and weight of waste? What ideas could there be for a “pay as you throw” type of individual / consumer action that would reduce the amount of waste generated and make it easier to identify the amount and type of waste near the point of its source?

More information
“Pay as you throw” news at https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-12206875 (Lähde YLE/STT 27.11.2021). “Recycling targets for household and municipal waste have been tightened in the EU and Finland. One way to increase waste sorting and recycling would be to introduce waste collection based on weighing. The Pay as you throw (PAYT) system encourages sorting, unlike, for example, a fixed waste fee. It is more expensive for the customer to collect mixed waste than recyclable waste. Pricing is done by weighing the waste and charging for the different types of waste according to their quantity. A property that sorts efficiently pays less for waste management than others. The European Commission is encouraging Member States to promote such sorting systems, which are already in place in Europe. Experience has shown a clear increase in sorting and a reduction in waste. However, the systems have been considered quite expensive because of their investment and running costs.”


Students, companies, and other innovators with creative and deployable ideas for this challenge are invited to apply. Even if your idea is in the ideation phase, if it is innovative and addresses the challenge, we want you to register for this event!

Make sure that your idea would have commercial potential, since you are competing for a chance of your prototype being endorsed for a test run in the city of Helsinki.


Winning teams will earn a share of a 6000EUR prize pool!


Forum Virium Helsinki
Forum Virium Helsinki is the City of Helsinki innovation company. It co-creates urban futures with companies, universities, other public sector organizations and Helsinki residents. Forum Virium Helsinki’s mission is to make Helsinki the most functional smart city in the world.

Forum Virium Helsinki’s development projects drive the creation of digital city services. From the very start, ideas under development are tested as part of users’ everyday lives. Another goal is to create new business opportunities for companies.

The Cross-Border Dimensions of Disruptive Information Technologies’ (CroBoDDIT) project
https://forumvirium.fi/en/croboddit-2/ is involved in development of disruptive technologies in urban infrastructures.

CroBoDDIT is both a lead partner of the Hackathon as well as an ENI-CBC project with its local mission and regional chapter organised by Forum Virium Helsinki Oy: the City of Helsinki owned non-profit innovation company.

Time for the Planet
Time for the Planet is a nonprofit company creating and financing companies tackling climate change on a global scale. Their mission is to spot high impact innovations; recruit entrepreneurs with strong experience to transform these innovations into successful companies with strong business models; and to invest money to maximise and accelerate the deployment of the innovations. Find out more at https://www.time-planet.com/en

Helsinki’s circular economy cluster program

The City of Helsinki has launched a cluster programme for circular economy, which aims to promote both innovations and business, as well as climate objectives, in line with the circular economy. During the early stages, the circular economy cluster focuses in particular on promoting the circular economy of construction, as the City of Helsinki plays a strong role as a client, developer and builder. https://testbed.helsinki/en/circular-economy/


Read more: https://ultrahack.org/waste-talk-digi


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