ARA relies on gamification: Digi-Cycle promotes recycling at Johannes Kepler University Linz

Waste management optimized at Austria’s first circular university

Linz/Upper Austria (OTS) More than a year ago, the ARA and the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU) started the closed loop pilot project “Circular University”. The balance of the separate collection is extremely positive: 55% less residual waste, more than 4,000 liters of plastic and metal packaging collected per week and thus more than 200,000 liters of packaging that remain in the material cycle every year. Now, with the help of the incentive-based Digi-Cycle app, ARA wants to build on this success and further increase separate packaging collection – with the support of Coca-Cola HBC Austria.

In the summer of 2021, ARA and JKU are putting a future project into practice: Austria’s first circular university. Internal and external waste management on the university campus was optimized with the aim of promoting separate collection and thus reducing the amount of residual waste. After an analysis by the ARA of the collection infrastructure, waste volume and composition through to waste separation and disposal costs, concrete measures followed: Around 150 containers were set up at the JKU for the separate collection of plastic and metal packaging, and waste paper and organic waste are also separated detected. The collection fractions were standardized using a color coding system, the entire waste transport and cleaning logistics were optimized and digital, solar-powered smart waste containers were installed outside. The balance of separate collection after one year is impressive: 55% less residual waste, more than 130 kg of plastic and metal packaging collected per week and thus more than 6,000 kg of packaging that can be returned to the cycle every year.

The result clearly shows that if options for separate collection are offered for on-the-go consumption, then the packaging is also sorted by type by the students. “This brings us one step closer to our goal of getting all packaging back for recycling,” explains ARA board spokesman Harald Hauke. “At the same time, targeted awareness-raising is essential on this path, because we can only do this by standing shoulder to shoulder. With our trend-setting future project, we are presenting an overall solution that should be implemented at as many universities in the state as possible. The commitment of each and every individual is important in order to advance the circular economy and thus actively stand up for climate protection,” says Hauke.

The potential is great: around 275,000 people are currently studying at over 70 universities and technical colleges in Austria, and the JKU itself has around 23,000 students and 3,600 employees. “In terms of the circular economy, we have to be careful with waste as a valuable resource. As a university in particular, we bear a great deal of responsibility in educating and raising awareness. The measures only work if everyone has the same goal in mind. As a result, we were enthusiastic about the innovative project right from the start, the results of which confirm its success after just one year,” says JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas.

Circular University 2.0 thanks to ARA’s digital solution and support from Coca-Cola HBC Austria

To further expand this potential, ARA uses its incentive-based app Digi-Cycle. The aim is to educate students and employees about the elements of the circular economy in a playful way and to encourage further waste separation. To do this, they rely on an incentive campaign that is used in a special campaign: “Trash to Treasure”, a hands-on recycling campaign for students that is supported by Coca-Cola HBC Austria and is designed as an interactive treasure hunt on the JKU campus. Students and employees of the JKU are not only made aware of the large number of available collection containers for collecting recyclable materials, but also learn what happens to the collected packaging when answering tricky recycling questions.

Herbert Bauer, General Manager Coca-Cola HBC Austria: “We support projects like the Circular University with great commitment: educating, closing knowledge gaps and motivating others to collect are important steps for high collection rates. All of us are needed in the cycle – this is the only way we can obtain new bottles and cans from recycled material.”
In the Coca-Cola scavenger hunt, you have to scan the clues on the containers using the Digi Cycle app, after which different challenges have to be solved. Persistent interest is rewarded, because there are attractive prizes for successfully completing the digital scavenger hunt, such as an extensive drinks package for a shared party for the students and numerous goodie bags.

About the ARA
Future. cycle. Business. For almost 30 years, Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (ARA) has been the driving force of Austrian waste and recycling management and is the market leader among the collection and recycling systems for packaging, old electronic devices and batteries.
ARA, with its subsidiaries ARAplus GmbH, Austria Glas Recycling GmbH, DiGiDO GmbH, Digi-Cycle GmbH and ERA GmbH, is now considered international best practice and, as a partner to industry, develops tailor-made disposal solutions in waste and recycling management: from exemption to material flow management to Circular design and digitization of the circular economy. ARA AG serves more than 15,000 customers. It is owned by local companies and operates as a non-profit company, not for profit.

About the JKU
The Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU) sees itself as a university with strong regional roots and an international focus. It pursues an unconditional demand for quality in teaching and research and wants to consistently move towards the top of Europe. The more than 50-year development of the JKU, from a university for social and economic sciences to one of the largest research and educational institutions in Austria, is a success story.
The researchers at the JKU are constantly gaining new insights, which they relate to reliable knowledge and deepen them in constant dialogue with society, business, and culture. The JKU focuses on the regional and global challenges of our time, both in teaching and research, as well as directly within the framework of its third mission (science with and for society).
Today, the JKU is a university with a wide range of subjects, with core competencies in the fields of technology (engineering, computer science, natural sciences), social and economic sciences, education, law and medicine. With its values, its visionary attitude and its interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary orientation, it is predestined to accept the scientific challenges of our time, especially with regard to digitization, sustainability, diversity and inclusion.
The JKU sets standards in this regard. Austria’s first degree in artificial intelligence, medical engineering, Austria’s first medical degree in the bachelor’s/master’s system and the pilot degree in law are an expression of the willingness to always question oneself critically and to adapt both research and teaching to the needs of the time.
It is just as important for the JKU to assume its social responsibility. The award-winning canteen only offers organic meat. A research node has emerged in the LIT Open Innovation Center that networks science and practice and works on circular economy and sustainable plastics.
In addition, the newly designed campus offers modern infrastructure, living, working and recreational space for employees, students and residents of the university.
Above all, the JKU has one claim: Through its students and research, it wants to contribute to a future that creates technology and progress while also serving people and the environment.

About Coca-Cola HBC Austria
Coca-Cola HBC Austria supplies the entire Austrian market with around 60,000 customers from the food trade and gastronomy and 5,600 cold drink vending machines with Coca-Cola products. The company employs around 900 people in Austria – in the ultra-modern production and logistics center in Edelstal in Burgenland or regional sales centers and distribution warehouses. Coca-Cola HBC Austria offers an innovative range of products tailored to the needs of consumers – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Coca-Cola has been a valuable part of the local economy since 1929. Responsible action within the local environment and the sustainable use of resources are firmly anchored in the corporate strategy. In addition to the areas of water, energy and employees, the ambitious sustainability goals focus on the global vision “World Without Waste”. As part of this strategy, Coca-Cola is promoting innovative packaging solutions such as increasing rPET content across its portfolio and strong partnerships to increase collection rates.

Questions & contact:

Allowed. Simone de Rai
Team leader Corporate Communications
Tel.: +43.664.856 80 54

Marion Draxler, MA
PR-Manager in JKU
Tel.: +43.732.2468 3019

Coca-Cola HBC Austria
Mark Joainig
Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director
Tel.: +43.664. 962.68.39