top of page

City Challenge Final Event:

 21. November 2018 in Tallinn 

Biowaste Challenge

in Tallinn

Get support for the pilot project of your solution

Untitled design (6).png

The City of Tallinn invites you to apply for the first Tallinn City Challenge in collaboration with EIT Climate-KIC.

This challenge is for startups, companies or scientists with a wise idea how to improve biowaste separate collection in Estonia’s capital. Pitch and test your idea, get great support on a pilot project and use the incredible network and infrastructure of cosy Tallinn. When your solution has proven its positive impact, it could be scaled to many cities around the world.

Become a change maker and apply with your solution on how to improve separate collection of biowaste!

The most critical issue in the present waste management system in Tallinn is the biodegradable fraction in municipal waste, that should be collected separately. Unfortunately, the centralised collection and treatment of biowaste is currently neither economically cost effective nor environmentally sustainable and needs improvements.

Only 30% of biowaste is collected separately in Tallinn. In order to improve the general recycling rate, the separate collection of biowaste is crucial.

We will  support the solution provider, who has an idea on how to improve the separate collection of biowaste and make great positive impact in the capital of Estonia.

 If you have a solution proposal on how to improve separate collection of biowaste, you should apply! We are seeking innovative ideas for improving biowaste (food and kitchen waste) separate collection and sorting in the following topics:

  • Techniques or facilities for biowaste separate collection in kitchens, catering establishments, food processing industries or stores

  • Biowaste collection system and logistics

  • Promotion on separate collection, proposals for changes in current legislation or informative campaigns

  • Prevention or diminishing of biowaste generation

  • Other ideas that enormously increase biowaste separate collection or sorting in households, companies or institutions 

Solutions will be presented to the authorities of the City of Tallinn and relevant experts. The six best solutions will be selected and invited to pitch in the Biowaste Challenge Event in Tallinn in November. Your travel costs will be covered.


The winner will get support for pilot project in Tallinn. The support consists of expertise and coaching, free working facilities for 2 team members in Tallinn for the pilot period, resources, data/statistics and access to the network of Cleantech Estonia and the city of Tallinn. The pilot project can last up to one year in the period of 2019-2020. This is a great way to develop your idea and make the real change!

Application deadline is

21st of October 2018

What is biowaste in this challenge?

In Tallinn City Challenge we focus on the biowaste that is produced in the household kitchens, catering establishments, food production and processing plants.

Unsuitable are waste originating from forestry or agricultural residues, garden and park waste, manure, sewage sludge and other biodegradable waste such as natural textiles, paper or processed wood.

Why Tallinn City Challenge about biowaste?


From mixed municipal waste 30-40% is biowaste, that could be collected separately and used as a valuable resource.

The main reasons citizens bring out as obstacles in waste separate collection are

  • lack of space for different bins in the kitchen  

  • the long distances from the nearest biowaste container.

Other problems of the source sorting of bio-waste are related to environmental awareness and economic feasibility.

How is Tallinn managing biowaste today?

All waste generators including households are compulsorily incorporated into the municipal waste collection system.

Under organised waste collection scheme, mixed municipal waste, paper and cardboard and biowaste are collected with door-to-door separate containers which are located next to residential buildings. These waste types can only be handed over to the waste management company with contractual rights to serve in the area or, in case of free market, to a company with appropriate waste permit.

Separate bins for biowaste are compulsory near

  • the houses with more than 10 apartments,

  • institutions or companies with biowaste generations more than 20 kg per week,

  • catering establishment with more than 25 seats, 

  • kindergarten, school or hospital with more than 112 places.

The residual biowaste in mixed municipal waste is mostly sent to the waste incineration plant in Iru or landfilled.  


Separately collected biowaste is composted in Tallinn Recycling Center.


Homecomposting percentage is insufficiently small.  

Legal requirements and Goals vs Reality in ESTONIA:

  • Target of 50% of municipal waste to be recycled by 2020. Today the recycling rate in Estonia is around 30%.

  • The percentage of biodegradable waste in the total amount by weight of municipal waste deposited in a landfill shall not exceed 20% by 2020. According to waste compositional analysis (2013) biowaste formed over 30% of mixed municipal waste.



Tallinn in figures


The biggest city in Estonia

Population: 450 000

Population density: 2800 persons/m2

Tallinn is the district with the highest share of source separated municipal waste in Estonia.

In Tallinn 45% of waste is recycled (in Estonia the recycling rate is 30%).

Waste generated: 40% by citizens and 60% by companies.

In Tallinn more than 50 000 tons of biowaste is generated in one year: up to 40 000 tons are kitchen waste.

Average Estonian household generates around 130 kg of biowaste per year (2.5 kg in a week).

Approximately 8000 tons of kitchen waste are collected separately in one year in Tallinn.

There are ca 3000 biowaste containers with total volume of 530 cubic metres in Tallinn.

There are 32,000 waste generators in Tallinn.

Importance and potential of biowaste challenge

Promotion of separate collection makes it possible to improve the quality of the collected materials, which makes recycling easier and more cost-effective. Therefore, decreasing the share of biodegradable waste in residual mixed municipal waste and developing of source separation is crucial.

What happens after applying?

  • Teams or individuals with strong idea will have virtual meeting with the experts of the project for solution proposal feasibility evaluation.

  • 6 teams get a chance to visit Tallinn and pitch their idea in front of the authorities of the City of Tallinn and relevant experts. The best 6 teams will be announced by 31st of October. Traveling costs are covered.

  • On the 20th of November, one day before the Final Event, is coaching and pitch training. There is a chance to meet potential partners for pilot project before the Final Pitching Event.

  • Biowaste Tallinn Challenge Pitching Event takes place on 21st of November in Tallinn in Von Stackelberg hotel.

  • Best solution proposal wins generous support for pilot project for 1 year in the period of 2019-2020.

Untitled design (6).png

For more information:

Cleantech ForEst NGO

Kadri Kaarna

Estonia, Tallinn

Pärnu mnt 148




bottom of page