The YouRban project kicks off

Co-creating innovative solutions for the recycling and reuse of composite materials

The YouRban project, funded by the European Union as part of Horizon Europe, coordinated by Professor Marcello Colledani of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano and also involving the Department of Design, has kicked off.

Europe is expected to generate almost 700,000 tonnes of reinforced polymer waste in 2025 and YouRban aims to address this challenge in an innovative and participatory manner. The project aims to create an active and aware urban community to find creative solutions for recycling and upcycling, in particular for reinforced polymers. By promoting the values of sustainability and inclusiveness and the knowledge of circular economy processes, the project will activate an urban ecosystem involving citizens, artists, designers, architects and small-scale producers (e.g., FabLabs and artisans' workshops or Urban Factories).

YouRban is based on an innovative research strategy which draws on the European Union's Green Deal and New European Bauhaus initiatives, promoting workshop and training activities for artists and designers.

The beating heart of the project is its truck, a mobile laboratory conceived as a true travelling workshop. This plant houses recycling and reprocessing technologies for end-of-life composite materials. The truck is not just a production tool, as it is also a powerful dissemination medium designed to promote the new values of the circular economy through exhibitions, artistic events and participatory activities related to the circular economy. Citizens, artists and FabLabs will be involved in co-creation activities and will also be able to explore demanufacturing and reprocessing technologies, gaining awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of the circular economy for their community.

The project is developed around two pillars: a pilot project in Milan and a pilot project in Barcelona. The approach of the pilot project in Milan is based on 'problems in search of solutions'. Citizens point out concrete problems and artists design solutions through an innovative co-creation process. The involvement of YouRban's technical experts ensures specialised expertise and training. The approach of the pilot project in Barcelona is reversed, as it adopts a 'solutions in search of a problem’ perspective. Artists and creative networks design solutions for change, then look for stakeholders willing to adopt them to solve specific problems and meet community needs.

Finally, YouRban exploits the Open Call mechanism to involve micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, laboratories and associations interested in understanding material recycling technologies and opportunities, helping to raise awareness, train and create new jobs and business opportunities within the involved cities after the end of the project.

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