ZAT is starting the implementation of a new project – TREE (01.12.2021-30.11.2023)

Project Title: Micro and Project-based learning for Teaching ciRcular Economy and Ecological awareness in VET schools

Target groups: VET students and teachers

Stakeholders: VET institutions, VET teachers, NGOs in the environmental and educational sectors, green and circular companies,

Context: The linear economy model (take – make – waste) currently in use is showing all its limitations over time: waste, leaving and landfills have become unsustainable elements for our planet. For this reason, the EU is one of the main promoters of an alternative economic system designed to regenerate itself thus also ensuring its eco-sustainability[1], called circular economy (CE). In fact, it can help countries to reach the global climate goals, changing the way they produce and consume goods[2].
A fundamental role in this changing process will be played by educational and vocational training institutions, particularly those active in the priority fields identified by the EC, in order to “engage with pupils, parents, and the wider community on the changes needed for a successful transition[3]. Including in their learning and training programs courses related to the CE and its principles (recycle, reuse, avoid wasting, eco-design, etc.), would enable educational institutions not only to disseminate knowledge and skills in line with global priorities on the environmental protection and with the labour market, but also to make students aware consumers and, potentially, future aware producers. Sustainability must be conceived as a transversal theme in the courses of schools and VET institutes, that is, as a lens through which we can reconsider the other subjects that are taught[4].

Aim and objectives: The general objective of the project is to increase the employability of VET students in the process of change towards a more sustainable and circular economy and to make them aware of the environmental issue, by providing them with skills and knowledge related to those themes.

In particular, the project aims to:

  • Integrate the teaching of CE and sustainability into VET schools’ curricula and subjects taught;
  • Create a closer link between VET institutions and businesses that adopt sustainable practices;
  • Increase the attractiveness of VET schools by increasing the employability of VET students;
  • Promote the adoption of eco-friendly practices in students’ daily life;
  • Support and encourage the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy.

Results: Within TREE project three main Results (R) are foreseen:
R1 – TREE Methodological Material (e-book) A comprehensive review of ESD, CE related topics and educational policies related to sustainability in partner countries and at EU level;

R2 – TREE Training Programme A complete training programme on ESD and the CE, divided in two macro-sections, one devoted to the teaching of more general ESD and CE topics through “micro-learning modules”, addressing also sustainable behaviors that can be adopted on a daily basis, and a second one that will explain to students how CE and sustainability are declined in specific economic sectors (wood, plastics and agrifood), through the adoption of “project-based learning” practices. R3 – TREE Open Educational Resource (OER) platform A web-based online repository comprising all the materials developed throughout the project.

Together with all the other the other partners from the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia, ZAT is also partnering in Bulgaria with Vocational highschool “Asen Zlatarov”, Vidin – one of the many great partners we have had the honour to work with through the years.


[1] Ellen Macarthur Foundation website, https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/what-is-the-circular-economy

[2] Ellen Macarthur Foundation, Financing circular economy. Capturing the opportunity, 2020 https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/Financing-the-circular-economy.pdf

[3] EU Green Deal, 2019 https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en

[4] ACR+ and Zero Waste Scotland, Circular Economy and Lifelong learning – scenarios, methodologies, in action. 2019