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Wiltz - a Circular Economy Hotspot in the heart of Ardennes

Wiltz, capitale des Ardennes

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Paul Rasque
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City of Wiltz

As an initial step in its ambitious plan to transform its country into a circular economy, in October 2015 the Luxembourg government named the municipality of Wiltz a Circular Economy Hotspot, encouraging the city to "gradually integrate the rules of the circular economy into its building regulations and to promote the ecological construction of buildings with high added value, having a positive impact on the economy and environment".

In 2017 Wiltz took it a step further by integrating the concept of circular economy into the Official Declaration of the College of Aldermen for 2017 – 2023. In February 2018 Wiltz renewed its political commitment with a Circular Economy Charter signed by its municipal council, by which it committed itself to mainstreaming circular economy in its future project and activities in order to improve its global footprint on the Ardennes region and to take on its responsibilities towards future generations of citizens.

Wiltz is home to derelict former industrial sites and the town council was looking for ways to reclaim this land and put it to good use once again. When the government proposed that Wiltz become a circular economy “hotspot” the council jumped at the chance. The idea is that Wiltz be a “laboratory” in Luxembourg for circular economy projects, which can then be used as a model for other municipalities.

The Charter includes the following commitments:

  • develop a work plan enabling municipal services to plan and organise their activities according to socially and environmentally responsible standards
  • make a better use of the material and human resources available in order to avoid any kind of waste in its territory;
  • support new types of organisation of human activities, for example collaborative ways of living  (co-working, co-housing, etc.), collaborative work space (FabLab, Do-It-Yourself, Maker-Space, etc.) and sharing of services and goods (carpool, etc.);
  • actively respect biodiversity in municipal project design;
  • develop a framework for the creation of a national centre for qualification and training on the subject of circular economy in Wiltz;
  • gradually integrate circular economy in building regulations at municipal level in order to promote eco-design and construction of high-value added buildings with a positive impact on environment;
  • introduce a proactive communication strategy, for all stakeholders, which is aimed at actively promoting circular economy;
  • promote a participatory and inclusive approach involving all stakeholders for guiding its development and ensuring its future attractiveness;
  • develop circular economy pilot projects establishing models and methods which can be applied on a larger scale.

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Main results: 
  • According to a study carried out by Luxinnovation at the start of Luxembourg’s circular journey, “Circularity supports 7,000-15,000 jobs, as well as more than €1 billion in economic activity in Luxembourg, primarily in manufacturing but also in construction, retail and other areas.” And there is much potential for growth. The same Luxinnovation study claims that “Acceleration of circular economic practices at scale in Luxembourg has the potential to generate €300 million to €1 billion annual net-material cost savings and more that 2,200 jobs …in construction, automotive, manufacturing and logistics”.

  • The most relevant project launched so far is “Wunne mat der Wooltz”, a large-scale housing development built along circular economy principles on a brownfield site and covering an area of 25,5 hectares, which by 2030 will provide housing, offices, shops, leisure, transport, parking and school facilities, thus attracting 1,800 new inhabitants. The construction of 780 new housing units is being planned  according to the principles of social and solidarity circular economy, urban planning, raw material optimisation and green energies.

  • Another project looks at waste processing and seeks to allow material and human resources to retain their usefulness and value for as long as possible.