At present, about 70 waste and environmental advisers work in the Styrian districts and municipalities. Their main task is to advise private households, businesses and educational institutions on waste management and waste prevention, thus, having a great impact on both the consumption and disposal behaviour and on higher recycling and re-use. This is achieved through counselling services, educational work, awareness rising on waste prevention and re-use as well as implementation of projects at regional and local level.

Courtesy of Nicole Zweifler, Waste and Environmental Adviser at the AWV Feldbach

"Re-use is an important part of our daily work. At the Waste Management Association Feldbach (AWV Feldbach) we disassemble small electrical appliances and monitors by hand and therefore we know how difficult it is to repair them. Many DIY enthusiasts come to us looking for spare parts or to repair different appliances. In past we have organised repair cafés directly at the AWV Feldbach or in two different municipalities. Unfortunately, we don't have a suitable room to organise it on a regular basis", said Nicole Zweifler, waste and environmental adviser at the AWV Feldbach.

"We are currently developing a resource park in the district of Feldbach, including a re-use shop where we would like to organise regular repair cafés", she added.

The activities of the Styrian waste advisers as well as their legal anchoring, support and networking have been highlighted as best practice in the report "Best Environmental Management Practice for the Waste Management Sector" (BEMP), published by the Joint Research Centre.

According to BEMP "the introduction of waste advisers in a territory is a practice that can be implemented at any level. However, their scope of action is more focused at the local level since they address operational issues, such as waste prevention. No specific instrument is required to set up a network of waste advisers; the main issue is rather how to fund their operations".

The majority of Styrian waste advisers work in the 17 Styrian waste management associations. Only a few are employed directly by the municipality or company. In Styria, the waste advisers are financed by the municipal waste fees, personnel cost subsidies from the packaging collection and recycling systems as well as by the province of Styria.

As stated in BEMP "according to the experience of organisations that have successfully deployed waste advisers networks (e.g. North London and province of Styria, Austria), it is better to implement it on a larger scale – at least a region, province or big city. This is seen as beneficial to ensure the optimisation of resources, the economic feasibility of the development and implementation of a qualification/training programme as well as the continuity of step-by-step implementation of waste advisers in all regions and municipalities".