Circular projects in #brnoregion

27. October 2023
Sending garbage to other countries and a growing volume of dangerous waste at dumps on one side, a crippling lack of raw materials on the other. An elegant solution? A circular economy in which garbage is a resource and which avoids creating it in the first place. Here's a look at several such circular projects from #brnoregion.
Circular projects in #brnoregion
There are several approaches to circular economics: some with quite an impact, others less significant. And that’s all right! Effective sustainability is a mosaic of many tiny pieces, such as new technologies to clean used materials and get them ready to be used again, recycling or upcycling projects, and companies offering alternatives to disposable products.

The construction industry plays an important role as well, particularly in using or reconstructing existing buildings or intentionally using recycled materials.  There are so many approaches to circular economics, and so many existing and inspiring projects in #brnoregion as well. Definitely more than we can cover here, so what follows is just a brief selection.


HUTIRA: Greener, decentralized waterworks

The volume of ground water has been dramatically dropping in the Czech Republic (just like elsewhere in the world). Every year around 18 billion cubic metres of rainwater falls on our country, with around 17 billion flowing right into the rivers and sea unused. Using surface water is then a clear choice, especially with advanced technologies to clean it and make it perfectly drinkable.

One of them was developed by HUTIRA, a Brno-based company aiming to decentralize waterworks. “We’d like the sources of drinking water diversified. Wherever possible, we should use rainwater to preserve precious groundwater for the generations to come,” emphasizes HUTIRA director Radek Kundrata.

Public swimming pools are required by law to keep changing their water based on the number of visitors. A container water cleaner is perfectly capable of restoring the quality of water on the spot, saving thousands of litres of water. HUTIRA has also developed a mobile water cleaner to turn extremely dirty water into drinkable water wherever needed.

WERELDO: Smart logistics and fewer trucks on the roads

One fifth of the price of every product you buy is spent on its transportation. If the economic side of that doesn't bother you, the ecological side is also worth considering, as this kind of transportation is very inefficient and every third truck on the road is actually empty. Why is that? Because the combinations of their routes are planned by regular human beings, and that’s what Wereldo decided to change.
Wereldo na konferenci Velvet Innovation
The company developed software to calculate the best route, both in terms of money spent and efficiency. “If you have five stops on your way from A to B, there are several hundreds possible routes. People will do some kind of estimates, but seldom chooses the best possible solution,” explains Tomáš Zahradník, CEO at Wereldo. To remedy this, Wereldo has developed software that can, however, which saves a lot of money for their clients and drastically reduces their impact on the environment.

rPET: Bottle to bottle – the first closed life cycle for plastic bottles

The material plastic bottles are made of has a very useful property: if you melt and refine it again, it can be recycled an infinite number of times. However, hardly anyone is able to clean it thoroughly enough to be reused as bottles in the food-processing industry. rPET, a company based in Rosice not far from Brno, decided to change this and purchased a technology from Austria to become the first in all of Europe to use it to produce regranulate in rPET quality – bottle to bottle.
PET bottles recycling
“The classic method of polymerization works with things in a solid state, whereas we work with liquid stuff. Thanks to this unrivalled recycling method, the material may be reused in the food-processing industry,” explains Jiří Hudeček, spokesperson at rPET. Every year, rPET processes 16 thousand tons of material and sends it back to circulation. “In the long run, there should be up to 36 thousand tons of material available in the Czech Republic, so we are currently only 50% of the way there,” adds Hudeček. The aim of rPET is to complete the life cycle for plastic bottles (at least) in the Czech Republic.

4M SOLUTIONS: A new resource from the dirtiest plastic

4M SOLUTIONS from Blansko isn’t afraid of the dirtiest work with plastic, as the company deals in recycling used toners and electric appliances. This is a very complicated mix of materials which, in addition to a lot of types of plastic, contains rubber, various foams, foils, metals, and dust, all of which are extremely difficult to separate. “I like challenges, so I pick the hardest ways nobody wants to go,” smiles Petr Abrahám, founder of the company.

In the first cycle, light fractions and a mixture of plastics are extracted from the mix to be further sorted using hydrodynamics. “The particles are charged by up to fifty thousand volts to receive either a positive or negative charge, and this separates the individual materials,” explains Petr Abrahám. These are mainly ABS, polystyrene and polypropylene, which are all badly needed on the market. What starts with a pile of dirty machines ends up as a pile of clean, raw materials that can return to circulation. One must just ask: Why do it simply unsustainably when it can be done in a difficult circular way?



What 99% of people consider garbage gets turned into top designer pieces in the hands of skilful, creative minds. NAHAKU is a duo of designers from Brno who create bowls and vases from used fire extinguishers, and they’ve made a PETing light from a twenty-litre prosecco bottle. All kinds of garbage are materials for them, though they currently enjoy plastic the most. “We’ve been developing unique plastic boards; when you shine a light on them, the resulting effect is very similar to onyx,” explains designer Josef Rozehnal, author of the project. And they want to launch them under the new Oplanepla brand.

So far, they’ve designed and implemented dozens of installations in private interiors, bistros, and bars. Their goal isn’t to make homes or businesses nicer for several design enthusiasts, though. They are aiming much higher and would like to get into chains like IKEA, Lidl, or Bauhaus. “Not to pat ourselves on the back but to make it possible for regular people to buy functional products that look good and have a higher added value,” concludes Josef Rozehnal.



KOGAA architectonic studio has demonstrated its focus on sustainability several times already. In 2018, they revived a former distillery in downtown Brno when they turned it into a multifunctional centre. Three years later they participated in the transforming former industrial warehouses into design lofts, which received awards from the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade.

These recognized architects believe that the role of their profession has changed. They can no longer deal only with what buildings look like but have to be able to resolve their usability and sustainability. “Not only in terms of the environment but also financially; it’s no longer enough to create beautiful things – that’s the minimum requirement now,” says Alexandra Georgescu, co-founder of the studio.


MYCO: Single-use plastic replaced by nature

What happens when you mix mycelium from mushrooms with natural waste, such as sawdust or paper? You get a material you can use instead of polystyrene! And Myco from Kyjov uses this very magical recipe. “Its structural properties make mycelium perfect to be shaped in various ways, so the resulting product is solid while flexible,” explains Jan Ostrezi, one of the four founders of Myco. Using it to produce packaging and covers is a natural choice and the company currently supplies Sonnentor and Treed, a producer of wireless chargers.

Myco na konferenci Velvet Innovation

This resource is renewable and even readily available locally, so there’s no need for any logistics. “And since they are 100% natural, they decompose very easily, with no garbage produced to be transported and eliminated. On the contrary, mycelium serves as an excellent fertilizer,” highlights Jan Ostrezi. Right now the company is using mycelium to develop a natural alternative to insulation. “Apart from sustainability, our solution is substantially more fire-resistant, which is great,” concludes Ostrezi.


Miniature fingers, tiny feet, and cuteness guaranteed. Do you find babies too cute to handle? And did you know that such a small human being produces up to one ton of garbage in the form of disposable diapers in just the first two years of its life? Not so cute any more, right? That’s why Bamboolik from Brno started pushing their cloth alternatives back in 2012. And no, this isn’t about going back to the days when these diapers were all messy, kept falling off, and mothers spent hours washing them on a washboard.

New times provide new options as well as materials, so Bamboolik was among the first producers (at least in the Czech Republic) to come up with cloth diapers – fun-looking and perfectly functional. These are friendlier on the environment as well as your wallet. No damage to nature, your baby’s skin breathes more easily, and the diaper won’t let anything come through, just like the disposable ones. The babies remain comfortable, letting you continue enjoying their cuteness to your heart's content.

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