Make sustainabilty actions local and integral
City/Region : Winterswijk , Netherlands

The Winterswijk transformation approach consists of making changes in the field of sustainability locally and integrally. In this form, we highlight the ''voucher campaign'' from 2020 and 2021 and the ''Heat Photo campaign'' conducted by the municipality. We also look at a LED lamp campaign for people with a limited budget. These actions have led to a lot of CO2 reduction. Finally, we discuss our work to reduce the amount of residual waste.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationClimate changeHousing
Social inclusion and integrationLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Apply innovative financing approaches
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services

Winterswijk, located in the east of the Netherlands, has approximately 29,000 inhabitants. Winterswijk aims to be energy-neutral in 2030 for the built environment. The municipality has drawn up an implementation agenda for sustainability ( We implement it integrally and together with society.

CO2 reduction is important for us, because climate change threatens our beautiful but vulnerable landscape. It is important that we generate a lot of sustainable energy and make homes sustainable. We currently achieved 17.7% of the sustainable energy generation: With the realisation of a large solar park in sight, we will be at 65% next year. We involve our residents at all levels: in policy making, in the preparation of campaigns and in implementation. This creates motivation, support and success. By drawing up an inclusion agenda and by working on the UN Convention on Disability, we make sure that we include all our citizens.

In Action

Procurement Action and Voucher Action:

Together with a service company, we did a voucher action in 2020 and 2021. 8500 homeowners received a voucher of € 70. 3300 owners participated and cashed the voucher. They were allowed to spend this on sustainability measures.


It is difficult to explain that only homeowners can participate. This leads to exclusion. In this campaign this was a requirement of the national government. But we are now preparing a campaign in which tenants may also participate. For this, € 363,972 in subsidy has been obtained. The alderman for sustainability said: "It's great that with this new scheme we can also help tenants with measures to reduce their energy consumption".


Heat photo campaign

We helped residents with a heat photo campaign. Using a thermal imaging camera, we took images of the homes in the spring of 2021. Based on the pictures, residents can see where heat losses occur. The process was as follows: A resident could sign up. Then he himself could activate the neighbors in his street to participate. For this he could use a flyer. Then the municipality took the photos. On our website we referred to possible measures (

We have also provided more intensive support to a small group of residents in neighborhood the Pas in a joint purchasing process for solar panels and insulation measures (Aanbod verduurzamen koopwoningen geldt nog tot 1 juni - Werk aan Winterswijk).


LED bulb campaign

In 2019, the municipality launched an LED bulb campaign. 1000 LED lamp packages were distributed to low-income households. With this, we hope to achieve that residents save on their electricity bills every year.

Waste and the circular economy

The emphasis of home collection is on the collection of raw materials (reverse collection), organic waste (vegetables, fruit, and garden waste), PMD (plastic packaging, metal packaging (i.e. canned food) and drink cartons), and paper and cardboard. The collection of residual waste is remote, i.e. collection containers in neighbourhoods and outskirts. Collection of these containers occurs once every four weeks. Each individual collection has to be paid for. There are no costs attached to the raw material container collections, so a financial incentive is applied. This new policy was introduced in 2016. Immediately afterwards, we have achieved success.


Voucher Campaign:

Thanks to the voucher campaign, 529,402 kg of CO2 are now saved annually. Inhabitants who participated in the voucher campaign and/or purchase campaign save on average € 75, - per year. We discovered that for some residents it was difficult to find the right measures. Therefore we asked a local entrepreneur to put together energy boxes. This entrepreneur has invested the proceeds of these boxes in solar panels on his roof.


Heat Photo Action:

The heat photo campaign had 215 participants. In the joint purchasing action that followed, 22 participants took part. This approach generated a lot of knowledge and several residents of Winterswijk learned how to use the camera.


Our various actions to promote solar energy have resulted in the barometer now standing at 17.7%. We periodically have aerial images taken. The solar panels on these images are counted. This gives a good insight into the progress.


As part of the "social green action", 6 gardens per year are addressed. This is an approach that also leads to more green in the neighborhood. But also to contact between volunteers and vulnerable residents


LED Lamp Packages.

1000 LED lamp packages were handed out. Thanks to these packages, many Winterswijk residents have lower energy bills every year.



The National Waste Management Plan (LAP) objectives have been achieved. Target residual waste 2020: 100 kilograms residual waste per resident. Winterswijk has certainly achieved this since we already reached 54 kilograms per resident in 2019. LAP target: recycling rate 2020 had to be 75%. Winterswijk already reached 87% in 2019. Our municipality already achieved the objectives in 2016.

The National Waste Management Plan target for 2025 is 30 kilograms of residual waste per resident and a waste separation percentage of 90%. Despite our good results, we evidently keep setting new targets.


When it comes to saving energy, the voucher campaign is very concrete. 529,402 kg of CO2 are now saved annually. The action also improved comfort in the houses. And that is why a new action is already planned.

The actions with the thermal imaging camera have led to active residents who will work together to make their homes more sustainable. We expect this first group to be inspiring for new groups of residents.

There were also residents who spent their voucher on Solar Energy. Therefore, it is good to outline here the generation of Solar Energy in a broader context. The generation is successful. We see strong increases starting in the year 2019. This is also the year we started the implementation agenda. Yet the big increase will also have to come from two large solar fields whose permits we have already granted. Those fields came about partly because of a clear and inviting policy framework.

The social impact of some of the campaigns is a bit more difficult to portray, but about a thousand families have lower energy bills because of the LED bulb package.

The cooperation with the project social green gives examples of how to make gardens climate adaptive. But above all it leads to more cooperation between residents in Winterswijk.

Prevention of waste

The foundation Aktief, a collector of bulky household waste, works together with people receiving social service benefits to give them work experience. In this way, people perform tasks with Aktief as well as receive training to make them better suited for the labour market. We ensure that people on benefits remain productive and that second-hand items of residents swiftly find a new home. This example was selected since it perfectly illustrates how waste and circular economy objectives can be combined with social objectives.

Challenges and lessons learned

1. Activating residents by their neighbors is more effective than from the government.

2. Personal contact and energy from an official who believes in the project is important.

3. When you talk to residents, do not limit yourself to sustainability, but look at what is going on and include social issues such as poverty or loneliness.

4. Our challenge now is to learn from both the scalability of the voucher campaign and the personal contact in the heat photo campaign.

5. Always combine sustainability issues with social and economic questions.

Energy barometer Winterswijk


ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
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