#18 Prague: "Circular Economy is a Mindset"

Episode 24 November 11, 2022 00:42:34
#18 Prague: "Circular Economy is a Mindset"
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#18 Prague: "Circular Economy is a Mindset"

Nov 11 2022 | 00:42:34


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In this episode, we dive into the topic of circular economy and especially how the city of Prague, Czech Republic is tackling waste recycling and other challenges. Our guest Vojtech Vosecky is himself trying to create a world with a circular economy, as he is the chairman of the Steering Group for Circular Economy in Prague, as well as an associate within Circle Economy.


The Solutions Guide for Cities by the Solar Impulse Foundation will be released on November 14th 2022 at the COP27!

Download it on the BABLE Platform and register now for the 'Prosperity and protection of the environment: how cities can unlock the opportunities of the ecological transition' launch webinar.


Overview of the episode:

02:30 - Teaser: Three words that Prague is not

04:11 - What led Vojtech to circular economy?

07:24 - Do cities ever stray away from the collaborative mindset?

09:35 - What is circular economy?

11:25 - Should everything be circular?

13:05 - Will the world ever be completely circular?

15:30 - Can we have circular economy in capitalism?

21:00  - Could we have "circularity as a service"?

22:10 - The Reuse Sundays project in Prague

24:36 - What stops other cities from implementing something similar?

26:11 - Other projects Vojtech worked on

27:30 - How can municipalities get political support for circular initiatives?

30:00 - Tips on how to make public procurement a tool

34:10 - Roll With The Punches: our guest answer this or that questions quickly, and with their first instincts

39:05 -  Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:06 Welcome to Smart in the City, the BABLE podcast. I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and really at BABLE we aim to connect the players in the smart city industry with high quality information and ideas through our platform and services. This podcast is really an extension of this goal and mission to drive the change for a better urban life. Just want to intermit here a bit to tell our listeners that the Solutions for Cities Guide by Solar Impulse Foundation is coming out on the 14th of November. So make sure to stay tuned and you'll be able to download it also from the BABLE platform. Um, and there's also a webinar, so I'll link that in the show notes. So make sure to check it out. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:52 So today we are talking circular economy, and especially how a notable city in Europe is tackling many challenges with waste and other challenges, of course, and also how our guests today is helping to create a world with a circular economy. So a very exciting topic, um, that we haven't really touched on much before. So without further ado, please give a warm welcome to Vojtech Vosecky, um, who is a chairman of the steering group for circular economy in Prague. He is also an associate of circle economy, and he is relentlessly on the pursuit of making a world without waste and works with both public and private sector and everybody in between. So, welcome Vojtech Vojtech. Vojtech Vosecky 00:01:40 Hey, thanks for having me. Good to be here. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:42 Yeah, so nice to have you. Sorry for, um, probably mispronouncing your name, but <laugh>. Um, It's Vojtech though, right? Vojtech Vosecky 00:01:50 It's Vojtech. You're actually really good at that. I hope everyone was as good as you were today, so no worries. Okay. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:58 Yeah. Thanks so much for coming and talking to us. I've read some of your work and I've, um, I've also listened to some of the things that you have to say, and I actually reached out to you because of that. So I'm really looking forward to all of your insights on everything's circular economy. So I like to do a bit of a teaser to get us warmed up and into the flow of the questions. And so, one of the podcasts that I heard you on, um, was the Solar Impulse Foundation podcast called Solutions for Cities. And that's how I found you as well. Um, and that was a bit back. I, I'm gonna test, not really test your memory though, um, but, uh, in that episode, he asked you three words to describe Prague. Can you tell me three words that Prague is not Vojtech Vosecky 00:02:45 Three words. The prag is not Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:48 <laugh>. Vojtech Vosecky 00:02:50 Gosh, that's way harder. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:51 Way harder. I'm sorry. This is, it is Vojtech Vosecky 00:02:54 <laugh>. Um, you really caught me off guard here, but, um, let me think what's not Prague. Well, I can tell you Prague is not circular yet. That's one thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, we have a lot to do. Prag is not an outsider either. There's a lot happening and, uh, I wish everyone has heard our story, and it's the same for many other cities around the world. And Prague is not a place that you would want to miss because it's beautiful and I think everyone should visit. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:33 I agree. I love Prague. I was actually in, uh, the second largest city in Czech Republic a few weeks ago, Beo. Um, and I was, I, I actually really fell in love with that city as well. But, uh, Prague is an all time favorite. You're from there originally, right? Vojtech Vosecky 00:03:49 Yeah, I am. I'm born and raised in Prague. Lucky in the downtown. So yeah, it's, I consider myself lucky. Uh, but, uh, I, I actually right now, like live in Sweden, but I am in Prague very often, so it's, uh, it's always nice to come back, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:09 Both nice places. Um, and with that, I wonder if you can tell me a little bit about your story. I'm always intrigued to like, what led you to a circular economy, What led you here, a little bit of your backstory. Vojtech Vosecky 00:04:22 Yeah, I mean, happy to share that. I, I didn't know what to do, honestly. When I was in my twenties, I started a university. It had a sustainability focus, but, um, I was lost. And I believe, you know, many people in their twenties just out of high school art. Um, but then, you know, I had one lesson at the university. I still remember that it was like a light bulb moment, really, you can imagine me sitting at this classroom looking a bit bored and telling me there was this like beam of sunlight right at me when, um, there was a professor talking about environmentally engineering and, you know, renewable energy, waste water, solar panels, wind turbines. And in that moment I was like, Okay, this is it. This is what I'm gonna be doing for the rest of my life. I just knew it deep inside my bones. Vojtech Vosecky 00:05:19 And, um, yeah, I haven't really stopped pursuing that journey ever since. So the next day I woke up, I, I looked up, you know, what's the best university in Europe to, to actually get to know the most about that, because back then there was not too much to learn about circular economy in Cze. It's still a new topic, even on a university level. But net at that time was really, you know, jumping on that topic. And there was this, and still is this university called backing, and where I just, you know, applied for Rasmus and I did my whole master and I became incredibly inspired by all the amazing, you know, know, colleagues, knowhow, the fresh perspectives on what circular economy is, what does it mean for a city, for company, for a society. So that, that really, um, was extremely inspiring. And, uh, it's funny because I remember like my first course, because I studied a program called Urban Environmental Management, which is pretty much yeah, what I'm doing in Pragna. Vojtech Vosecky 00:06:24 But back then I was just a student and I went to Netlands. And, uh, then the first course we had to write a, you know, little study on like, where, how could you make your city more sustainable? And I was just like getting really deep down into the food system in Prague and how to, you know, turn food waste into, uh, really precious secondary materials such as bio gas or fertilizers. And, and I was like, Why is this not happening in Prague? I mean, it's a no brainer. And back then I was like, if I could sit one day with the mayor of Prague, you know, talking about this, making it happen, that would be a dream come true. And then, yeah, a couple years later, it's just, uh, Roy landed. So I, I, I really consider myself very fortunate in that aspect. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:07:15 That's an incredible story. And I, I love the, the light bulb moments that's like something from the movie. So yeah, thanks for telling us a bit about that. I'm wondering, so, uh, when I was listening to your Solar Impulse Foundation episode, you mentioned that you find it a very collaborative environment in Europe between the cities, however, I've also seen, uh, a kind of competition as well, a competitive, whether it's a friendly competition or competition for funding. Um, do you think that cities ever stray away from the collaborative mindset? Vojtech Vosecky 00:07:52 So I think that, um, you know, cities are many things. It's a complex environment. You have city owned companies, they have to be competitive, right? You have a lot of organizations that constitute a city. But if you ask me about, you know, the local government, you know, as a city and their take on certain economy and what's their approach to collaboration? I, I only have good things to say. I think it's, uh, not really competitive, even though we eat each other's budget sometimes when we apply to, uh, funding from the eu, it's, it's, um, it's unfortunate, but actually often those calls are about multiple cities joining a proposal, and it was never difficult to find partners. Everyone is just like jumping on it. And because obviously the money is precious, um, the calls are very relevant, very competitive, but it doesn't make the cities compete directly. Vojtech Vosecky 00:08:51 It's just the design, uh, of those calls that, that only select a few, but often cities need to partner up with. And there's a tremendous network of circular economists just like me in progress. Other people in pretty much every major city or capital in Europe. Now, this is also pretty new, and we are all like loosely connected in different networks, and, uh, we support each other. And, you know, when you have a question or problem, people are always there to, to jump on a call, share what they have learned. Uh, and I think it's actually pretty rare, and it's not often the case in different industries. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:09:33 Yeah. Yeah. I, I think that's very true. Um, also, maybe I didn't plan on asking this, but I'm just wondering maybe for some of our listeners, they, they've heard the term circular economy before, but maybe in your own words to you, like, what is circular economy? Vojtech Vosecky 00:09:51 Sure. So circular economy, it's, uh, it's a mindset. It's a philosophy, but it's, that can be a business strategy. It can be the way you design a city or build a school in a city. Uh, it's all about, uh, first of all, not producing waste thinking. How do I produce less waste? Minimizing that. Um, and then it's about making sure that the resources that you operate with flow in perpetual loops without the loss of quality. I know it sounds a bit, um, fuzzy, but I often compare circle economy to nature, because circle economy is inspired by natural processes. There is no waste in nature, right? If something dies or, or stops existing in nature in a forest, it is all those things that constitute, even it's an animal pre leaf, it just gets, um, recycled to a perfection by all the other living organisms are there. And this is how this balancing act is insured forever in those continuous loops, uh, which are actually thriving. Uh, it's, those ecosystems are of course, getting disrupted these days by human activity. Uh, but the idea of that can still be applied to a way that humans do business design their products or services or build their cities. So, yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:11:25 Yeah. So, so should everything be circular? Vojtech Vosecky 00:11:30 It can't really, There are chemical physical limits to, uh, the human world, and how circular can that be? But if, if you ask me if there's something a hundred percent circular, I would say it's the nature mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's the only a hundred percent circular thing there is. Our world of humans has started, you know, in circular societies long time ago. But then, you know, um, we have evolved into a linear society, uh, especially in the last hundred or 200 years, ever since the Industrial Revolution. Our society has transformed rapidly, and our relationship to resources and waste has also changed. And now the way that the system that we have designed is about extracting resources from the ground, making stuff out of them, ideally low cost, large quantities, consuming them sometimes in an unhealthy fashion and, and, and fast fashion, and then disposing of them throwing them away. But there's no way, right? There's no, no way in, um, nature, there's always a place where that waste, it's gonna end up our oceans landfills, and if we burn it, well then you get the little of energy out of that, but the resources are lost anyway. Not gonna make a new t-shirt out of a t-shirt. You just burned down the chimney. So we need to get away from the linear economy. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:13:04 Yeah. But, um, a bit of devil's advocate. Do you, do you think that the world will actually ever be circular? Um, like how optimistic do you feel that we're like actually headed in the right direction? Vojtech Vosecky 00:13:18 We have data that show that we're actually getting further and further away from the goal. Uh, so what we see is that, you know, the more humans we are and the more that we consume in this linear society, we have designed the, the, the gap as we call it, a circular, the gap is just getting bigger. We're less and less circular as a planet. Um, but this can be changed. There are strategies we know the way we will never be a hundred percent circular. It's, it's not possible, but we can get pretty damn close to it in certain industries. And, um, that's a must. It's, it, it, uh, you know, it, we cannot ignore it because a lot of people talk about renewable energy as the, the only way that's gonna save climate, that's gonna reduce our carbon footprint. And I say, yes, it is essential, but it's only, uh, one side of the same coin. Vojtech Vosecky 00:14:20 A lot of carbon emissions are embedded in the stuff that we use in the way in, in our clothes, in our laptops, in our phones, in our cars. And that's not necessarily related to renewable energy. It's more how long do we keep those resources in the loop? And if we need to make a new car, new phone, or new t-shirt, we should work with what people we've taken from the ground to stop the extraction and the ecosystem collapse. And that if we do that, if we go circling that aspect, will get us to meet the periscopes quite comfortably. There are studies on that. So what we say is that we cannot get to net zero without circularity. It's a massive concept. We will never be fully circular, but at the same time, we will not solve climate change if we don't try to go circle Tamlyn Shimizu 00:15:11 It. Yeah, absolutely. It's, it's absolutely fundamental in what we're doing. And, uh, I've also seen this, you mentioned fa you throw away things in a fast fashion, and it of course reminds me then it's kind of a play on words of fast fashion. Um, you see this kind of escalation of so many of these industries. Um, do you think that this is, of course, uh, with capitalism, it's kind of correlated there, right? So can we have circular economy and capitalism? Vojtech Vosecky 00:15:41 Whoa, <laugh>, I mean, Vojtech Vosecky 00:15:43 Yeah, I, uh, I, back in the day, so I told myself, I, it's this, probably I would need a also a philosophy degree to properly answer this question. Um, I, I don't know. Look, you know, I come from Czech Republic, we've had our share of communism, and that was not good. Yeah. That was really, really bad. Uh, capitalism is, from an environmental perspective, also destroying our planet. Um, I think we need to find alternatives for sure. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in this, this, the way that we've set it up is not healthy. The, the, the, the way the finance works and the way that we focus on growth as the only indicator of success, and I mean, GDP growth, economical growth mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we're always just, um, gonna make things worse because, you know, there is no infinite growth on a finite planet. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But a lot of people pretend politicians, you know, businesses, they pretend like there is, it's always to, you know, if the GDP is down, it's bad, the GDP is up, it's good, but it, it just, there there are limits to that. Vojtech Vosecky 00:17:03 Yeah. You know, And, um, right now we're, we're seeing those limits and imagine, you know, if, if we don't change anything, and if those 8 billion people reach the same living standards as Americans, there's just not enough resources on this and, and, and ecosystem services that would be able to provide this in a, in a safe manner. So we need to reevaluate, like, what are we striving for? And as long as it is to make profit and, and, uh, and consume because of that, then I think, yeah, we, we have a huge systemic issue. But, um, at the same time, you know, um, yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:17:47 Yeah. No, thank you. That was, that was just something that came to my mind while you were speaking, so thanks for rolling with that. I know it's a bit of a, it's, it's definitely quite tricky. I would, I would also say that then the trick to it is, um, making circular economy profitable also economically viable at the same time. Right? So when, um, sometimes now for, you know, fashion companies, um, when people do returns, it's actually cheaper for them to throw away the clothes than for them to, you know, make them look nice and, um, send them out again. Um, but how then, you know, I think all these solutions are really based around making circular economy also economically viable. Um, do you agree with that? Vojtech Vosecky 00:18:33 Yeah, of course. But let me just come back a little bit to the last question. Yeah. Because there is one thing we should totally challenge, especially here in Global North, and that's the consumption. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I don't know, don't ask me how it's raised the capitalism or communism, I don't Tamlyn Shimizu 00:18:48 Know. Yeah. Vojtech Vosecky 00:18:49 Or it's, it's that we would need a new podcast for that, but, um, but the consumption is, is a big issue because yes, we, we consume more than we need and we consume more than we should. Um, uh, I'm looking at, you know, the, and often, you know, there's a lot of hypocrisy around this. Not intentionally look at the Nordics. So Denmark, you know, it often strikes or scores the highest in different global sustainability rankings. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because the water is clean, the air is clean, the greatest clean, it's low carbon energy system. And so yet if everyone lived like the dates, we would need five planets. Cause they have two cars, two houses. They just, So we have to become a bit more humble with our relation to resources and consumption. Yeah. I feel, and this is where I see also the huge power of circular economy. Vojtech Vosecky 00:19:50 A lot of people think of circular economy as, Okay, we just recycle everything and that's it. No, it's, it's much more than that. It's about, look at cars, for example. You know, like most of the cars are parked 93% of the time that we own them. Yeah. And it's just steel, aluminum, glass, and plastic sitting on our street without being used. We can, there are large efficiencies we can gain in our societies by utilizing all kinds of products and resources much better. And this is, could be revolutionary. Uh, and it's not just about cars, it's about everything else around us. And this is where I see the role of circle of business models as, um, very important circle of business models are exactly sort of circular economy are principles, but to get it work, you need business models. You need to, instead of selling products, you need to run them as a service and so on and so on. Yeah. And some of them are profitable, Some of them, uh, need scaling up. Some of them haven't been able to scale up, and there's various reasons for that. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:20:56 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so yeah. So, you know, like mobility as a service. Um, so it could be, you know, circular economy as a service. Right. Circularity as a service, really. Yeah. Vojtech Vosecky 00:21:06 You have a light as a service, carpet as a service. You can have laundry as a, you can have a stone as a service. And, uh, and sometimes you don't even, you can also, another very interesting thing that I see is d materialization, I hope I pronounce it correctly, but sometimes, uh, you don't even need physical stuff to, to do what you need to do to consume what, what you need to consume. Um, there's a famous picture of a guy in the nineties and he has like phone camera, radio, headphones, recorder, 20 different gadgets that right now fit into one phone Yeah. That we all have in our pockets. Trying to make that happen in different industries, you know, is also very interesting way to move forward. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:22:03 Yeah. Really interesting. Um, can we put this, all this discussion a little bit more on the ground now? Um, you mentioned in, in the Solutions for Cities podcast, um, that a favorite project of yours in Prague is called Reuse Sundays, which is, uh, how I understand a day of swaps that the local communities can do. Right. Um, can you, uh, first of all, maybe just give another sentence for the people who didn't get the chance to listen to that episode about what that is. And the question is also, what do you think would stop other cities, um, from being able to implement something similar? Vojtech Vosecky 00:22:42 Sure. So reuse Sundays are exactly what you just said. It's community based swaps that the city kind of provides the resources for. So we provide the space, you know, we chip in a little bit of money for the local NGO to, to, you know, to make it happen over the weekends to promote it and so on. Um, and it doesn't cost so much. And it attracts hundreds and thousands of people every time we do. It's crazy. We were astonished by the interest from the local communities, you know. Um, and the funny story was that the first time we did that, we were afraid that people were just dump all their things that will bring there. So what we tell them is that like, bring whatever you don't need and hopefully, you know, it will get swapped and we will help you organize it. The books will go there, the quotes, you can leave them there, whatever. Vojtech Vosecky 00:23:34 And the first time we did it, we also ordered a big container from a waste management company to throw away everything that's left, right. Because yeah, what are we gonna do with it? But that container was totally empty at the end of the day. There was nothing left after all that swap. And that was like 600 people bringing and leaving with all kinds of different stuff. So it's a big success. And, uh, we are scaling the program now for next year. We, we started with couple neighborhoods, now we're gonna have 10, and we're also gonna design a blueprint for every neighborhood in Prague to be able to do it under Oh wow. Without our support. So we hope this is a thing that can repeat in all the product districts regularly. And not once year, but maybe even several times a year. I think it's extremely easy replicable concept. It's not to rocket science. Very simple, doesn't cost much. So I think, uh, a very low hanging fruit for any kind of city to foster the reuse and swaps in, in its own local communities. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:24:36 Yeah. What do you think is stopping some cities from implementing things like this? Vojtech Vosecky 00:24:40 Cities like large scale technical solutions? It's, you'll be surprised, it's easy to get a hundred million euros on big facility to do something than 1 million euros on 20 different small community based projects. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:01 Yeah. Vojtech Vosecky 00:25:02 It's sometimes really almost hard to believe, but it's true. Cause you, you need the same amount of energy to convince your colleagues to make a case, to get it through the council and the city assembly, get the bureaucrats on board, come up with a, um, uh, the tender, select the one who's gonna do it. And then, you know, when, okay, well what do I spend my time on? Is it something big that will, that we can calculate? How much carbon missions will it say? And how, how many tons will it recycle? Or is it those fluffy things that, um, we all know are important but are hard to measure, calculate. Uh, so it's, it's also a matter of style. Some, some people might prefer that others not comes down to personal responsibilities. I would say that this could be the case. Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:59 Yeah. Yeah. Thanks so much for sharing. And, uh, I know you, because of course your work in Prague is, uh, is quite widespread, but I also wonder about your other work that you do. Um, do you have another favorite project or something else you have worked on besides that work in Prague? Vojtech Vosecky 00:26:20 Yeah, I mean, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:26:22 <laugh> too many to count. I Vojtech Vosecky 00:26:24 Do. I do, exactly. It's maybe too many, but Prague is my favorite for sure. I have my own clients that I've been, um, helping. So one of them is, um, a big mineral bottled water producer. Uh, and they want to go circular. And that, I think it's also a pretty cool challenge worth solving. They all want to go all into this, you know, punt deposit systems. I think in the US it's called water belts, you know, to make sure that the, the bottles are reused and recycled over and over and over, which is not the case in Europe, and especially not in Cze, uh, and here in the Nordic. Yeah, it's fantastic. There's so much happening. Uh, my role here is just to support other CDs and businesses or even nations to, so they understand, you know, where they are and where do they need to go. Uh, I love all my projects <laugh> to pick the favorite ones. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:20 Yeah, That's okay. I won't, I won't make you pick favorites. Um, too much on this show. So, um, just a couple more questions maybe. Um, on, on the Solar Impulse Foundation episode, you, um, mentioned political support and using procurement as powerful tools. Both. Um, however, I also see these as huge hindrances and challenges, um, for municipalities of course. So first off, with political support, like you either have it or you don't, Right. Or what can city workers and representatives do to maybe get more politicians on board with circular initiatives? Vojtech Vosecky 00:28:01 It's true. It, it really depends on like what kind of spectrum are your local politicians at Some even have an anti-climate agenda. Yeah. And, uh, that's definitely much harder system to operate in. Although again, I feel like when it comes to circular economy, we're lucky because often solutions that we propose have a strong business case. So even you, let's say have a conservative right wing government, not so concerned about the environment, they will listen if you have a strong business case for them. And actually, it's not that bad because if you have a strong business case, which is also good for the environment there, you have a scalable solution that is able to operate without being, you know, able to just use a lot of taxpayer money to, to thrive and live Some projects like our swaps in Prague, they don't have a business case, but they're important others do. So I think if you are a circular economist, like you just gotta be smart. And I think, you know, the magic and the power of circular economies that you can have a discussion with anyone, really. It could be an ngo, corporate or conservative or super liberal green political leadership. You just have to use different arguments and different data, but still follow your cause. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:29:30 Yeah, yeah. Exactly. And tailoring the messaging. I think, um, also super, super good lesson here I think is what you're talking about, the business case. Um, really making it, uh, as I mentioned before, on the economic scale of things. Also, uh, politicians, no matter who they are, they, they see a good business case and they'll go for it. Right. So, um, yeah, super important things. Uh, and, and then on the procurement side of things, of course, um, we also see huge challenges with procurement. Um, do you have any tips here on how to make procurement really a tool, as you mentioned in that podcast? Vojtech Vosecky 00:30:07 Yeah, it is a powerful tool. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it is the most powerful tool, tool cities have mm-hmm. <affirmative> to foster, well, what are whatever they want to foster. But it could be circular economy, but it's, um, it just imagine like you have, you're building a bridge. You, you're buying 50,000 police uniforms, You're buying 100 trends. It's your money. It's actually taxpayer money. But it, it's there to, you know, to buy something. And it's you as a city who's buying to have a say in what are you buying and under what conditions. And it's, you can add a few lines to make an awesome circular procurement for 50,000 police uniforms. As long as you say, I want to make sure that whoever's delivering this solution will take our repairs and take back. And that will make sure that this doesn't end up on landfill, but is something new is created out of that, maybe we can upcycle it to something that the city can use. Vojtech Vosecky 00:31:07 Again, there's so many examples like that you could use. And, um, every circle procurement creates a direct demand for circle of business model. And, uh, this is how the city can have a large impact on startup scene on the business scene that can, you know, actually go way beyond the city boundaries. CDs can have a very interesting initiating role cause they can move quite fast with public procurement. Uh, now it is hard, uh, there's so much to do in Prague. There are cities that are doing way better job at this than us. I would suggest everyone to look at what Malmo is doing, for example, MAL in Sweden. Um, but often when you bring this up to the procurement department, like the first thing they say is that, Yeah, this is great, but we're already way too busy. We're swamped. Yeah. Because people, you know, when you come to them with any kind of procurement needs, you need it fast, you need it cheap. Vojtech Vosecky 00:32:12 And of course you need it by, by the book. And that's already a huge challenge for them. And then you add this new aspect, often they don't understand, they haven't been train it, they're not circle economic, they're not climate change experts. Uh, they're buying everything the city needs. So you need to train them. You need to provide them with new capacity. There needs to be new member or members on the team. Otherwise it's not gonna fly without it. There needs to be guideline. So what we call a to be a blue book or a cookbook, you know, Hey, these are the top 10 things you should think of every procurement above, I don't know, 200 million euros to make it a bit easy for them and impactful for the city. And then you should also, when it comes to procurement, my tip to whoever's listening, if you're in that sphere, would be, um, to engage other big buyers in the city. Vojtech Vosecky 00:33:10 Because it's not only always the city itself. Cities, especially in Europe, they own a lot of different utilities and they're run by their own city owned companies and they have their own purchasing departments very specialized. So could be waste management, could be, um, the infrastructure company, it could be the transportation company, could be the water management company. They all need a lot of stuff. And then you should kind of make sure that the procurement strategy is not so much centralized in the central municipal government and get disseminated into other big buyers that the city has an authority over. When you have ownership of the company, then you can just tell 'em, Hey, this is, you need to do this. Yeah. And they, they have to figure it out. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:34:01 Yeah. Really, really great tip also about, you know, writing accountability really into the procurement process, um, for cities. So, um, with that, I'll leave behind the most serious part of our interview. Um, and I'll move a little bit into a segment we like to do, um, and that is we have for you one of my favorite segments today, and it's called Roll With the Punches, Roll with the punches, answer this or that questions quickly and with your first instincts. Um, and then afterwards, after we're done with all the questions, then you can explain a little bit if you need. But basically it just, uh, this or that, and you just pick one. So not always logical, so don't worry. Um, <laugh>. Okay. Are you ready? Vojtech Vosecky 00:34:53 <laugh>? I'm not sure. Bring Tamlyn Shimizu 00:34:55 It on. Okay. Bring it on. I like the attitude. So, uh, reduce or reuse, Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:01 Reuse. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:02 Public transportation or bike sharing, Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:05 Public transportation. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:07 Recycled or bike degradable, Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:10 Recycled Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:11 Prague. And summer or winter? Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:14 Definitely Summer Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:15 <laugh>. Good, good. Uh, it wasn't too painful, right? <laugh>? No, Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:20 No. It was actually fun. Yeah. Yeah. <laugh> the bike sharing was tricky though, because obviously it's a good one, but it's not for everyone. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:29 Yeah. So, Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:30 Uh, yeah, it got me there, but otherwise, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:33 Do you want to Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:34 Firmly behind my reply? Tamlyn Shimizu 00:35:36 Yeah. Good, good. I, I think I understand the redos and reuse. I think you, you explained that pretty well before also. Um, so, uh, but what about the recycled or biodegradable, Vojtech Vosecky 00:35:48 Right? Yeah. So I'm not a big fan of what is marketed and sold today as biodegradable. The big challenge is behind that, a lot of greenwashing. Um, and often it's about packaging. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:36:08 Yeah. Vojtech Vosecky 00:36:09 And it's not bio, it's not, it doesn't biodegrade never, Not even in the lab. Definitely not when you throw it in a forest. Uh, so, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:36:21 So we need more standards behind it. It's tricky. Vojtech Vosecky 00:36:24 Yeah. I mean, so I think it's, it's important aspect of, uh, design for circularity, but we shouldn't mix it up with solutions that are already out there and work. So Biodegradability is a great tool, for example, in farming where they used a lot of plastic to, uh, for matching. That's the thing. You know, you, you grow vegetables, you cover the field, uh, you cut small holes, and then the vegetables kind of, you know, they grow through it. And then when you harvest it, often that plastic Foley is just crushed and mixed together in the ground. And that's how you'd be surprised how many thousands of tons of plastic actually enter our soils every year because of that. Um, there's just no better option than if that Foley was spider gradable. Mm. But if, if you start entering or introducing biodegradability to, let's say, consumer packaging when it comes to your drinks or when it comes to, uh, you go shopping to supermarket, you get agradable plastic bag, uh, I am afraid that it often incentivizes people to just, okay, spider, it's good for the nature, doesn't matter if I just throw it away. Vojtech Vosecky 00:37:47 Maybe I will add some valuable nutrients to this beautiful park over here. So it's an extreme example. Yeah. Um, what's happening, for example, in Prague with a lot of bio variable packaging is that it enters our plastic stream, and that's bad for everyone because it, it's not plastics, it cannot be recycled as plastics. Uh, but the machines that are there to separate, uh, do not recognize it. So it mixes up and then it makes it harder downstream to actually turn the rest into variable other resources. Yeah. But if you then bring it to composting tile instead, they don't want it either because they're like, Yeah, this is not compostable. Uh, it's, it's not gonna buy the grape in our processes either. And the farmers don't want it either, so you have to put it in a black bin and burn it. And that's pretty much one of the worst things you can do with that. Yeah. It's an extreme example. I'm being selected here. Biodegradability is broader than that. I picked two, you know, one good and one bad. Uh, there's a lot of space in the middle, but I, the recyclability is a bit more safer and proven Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:00 Solution. Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense. Um, and then I just have one last question, and there's a question we ask every single guest. As you know, you're on a smart city podcast, so, um, we have to ask this question, and it's, to you, what is a smart city? Vojtech Vosecky 00:39:17 Smart city to me is a city that doesn't waste its potential, doesn't waste the time of its, uh, citizens on unnecessary tasks or unnecessary, you know, travel distances and so on. But it's a city that works for everyone efficiently, um, and in harmony with, you know, uh, technologies, the people living in it and the environment as well. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:39:48 Yeah. I thought you were gonna say a smart city is a circular city, so you, you threw in, uh, some No, it's good. Um, I, it's just not what I expected, so Vojtech Vosecky 00:39:58 Yeah. I, I don't, I just, you know, being in this world for several years, I never saw those worlds actually intertwine. It's, it's usually a different crowd. Yeah. When you go to smart city conference, no one talks about circular economy. And when you go to circle economy conference, no one talks about smart city, but often we're in the same business and we want the same thing. So, and the energy aspect, I think, and, and the sharing economy is I think where those two words meet, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:40:30 So much of it intersects that I really don't, don't have a clear, like, line in my head where a smart city stops and a circular economy begins. Um, so I think it's super important that we're talking about this today. And, uh, with that, I just wanna say that this has been a very insightful conversation for me, and I know that all the listeners are going to feel the same way. Um, and hopefully that we can merge these tooth concepts a bit more in people's heads that, you know, the people working for smart cities are also working for circular economy and vice versa as well. We're all on the same side, working towards the same goals. So, um, and we, we, I was going to say, anyways, we don't talk enough about circular economy in smart cities, and you said it perfectly before. So this is the, that bridge, um, to, to circular economy. So thank you so much for your time, um, and all your knowledge. It's been, it's been an absolute pleasure and I hope to see you also in person sometime soon in Gothenburg where you live, Right. Um, and pro or Prague gladly take Prague. So, uh, yeah, thank you so much. Vojtech Vosecky 00:41:34 Yeah, thank you for having me. Thanks to everyone who's listening. Don't hesitate to reach out if something was inspiring. If you have any questions, uh, connect with me on LinkedIn and yeah, let's definitely meet over some good beer in Prague or something else here in the Nordics. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:41:54 Sounds wonderful. And, uh, to, yeah, to all of our listeners, don't forget, you can always create a free account on B Smart cities.eu to find out more about some smart city projects. There's also some circular economy projects and solutions and implementations on there. So, uh, yeah. Thank you so much. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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