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Circular Economy in Cities – Project Guide

March 6, 2019

Circular Economy in Cities Project Guide
Circular Economy in Cities Project Guide

Circular Economy in Cities is a suite of online resources which provide a reference point for urban policymakers.

As major engines for economic growth, cities can drive the circular economy agenda forward to unlock economic, environmental, and social benefits. Alongside Sustainable Development Goals and climate objectives, the transition to a circular economy will support city leaders as they deliver against their priorities, which include housing, mobility, and economic development.

Circular Economy in Cities – The Project

By 2050, three quarters of us will live in cities. However, our urban centres are grappling with the effects of our current take-make-waste economy. Under this ‘linear system’, cities consume over 75% of natural resources, produce over 50% of global waste, and emit between 60-80% of greenhouse gases. A circular economy provides the opportunity to rethink how we make and use the things we need, and allows us to explore new ways of ensuring long-term prosperity.

Circular Economy in Cities focuses on opportunities in three key urban systems – buildings, mobility, and products – and looks at how city governments can work to enable a circular economy transition. The project addresses questions such as:

  • Vision: What will the implementation of circular economy principles in cities look like?
  • Factsheets: What benefits can a circular economy transition in key urban systems bring to cities?
  • Policy levers: What can urban policymakers do to accelerate this transition?
  • Case studies: What examples are there of urban policymakers already putting this into action?
  • Other networks & resources: What are other organisations doing on the topic of circular economy and cities?

Circular Economy in Cities Project Guide
Download the Guide

Circular Economy in Cities – What can be Delivered?

It is well documented that 75% of natural resource consumption occurs in cities. Cities produce 50% of global waste and 60-80% of greenhouse gas emissions. These are symptoms of the ‘take, make, dispose’ linear economic model. The need for change is increasingly evident, with cities feeling the effects. The circular economy offers an opportunity to respond to these challenges by rethinking how we use materials, leading to wholly new ways of creating value.

Cities are where most materials are used and wasted, and where buildings, vehicles, and products are consistently under-used.

What if we:

Design out waste and pollution from cities?

Keep products and materials in use in cities and maintain their value?

Regenerate natural systems in and around cities?

The implementation of a circular economy vision in cities can bring tremendous economic, social, and environmental benefits. It can foster the emergence of a:

  • Thriving city in which economic productivity increases through reduced congestion, eliminated waste, and reduced costs, and where new growth and business opportunities can support skills development and jobs;
  • Liveable city with improved air quality and urban health, reduced carbon emissions and pollution, and with enhanced social interactions;
  • Resilient city, keeping materials in use and reducing virgin material pressures, working with both local and distributed production capacity, and harnessing digital technology.

These benefits can be achieved by changing the way urban systems are planned, designed, and financed, and how they are made, used, and repurposed. This vision can help address important and pressing mayoral priorities on housing, mobility, and economic development. It also aligns with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change.

City governments are uniquely positioned in the transition to a circular economy – they can enable, lead, and involve other key stakeholders from across the public and private sectors, using the wide range of policy levers and measures at their disposal. Ultimately, this is a collaborative transition towards a future of thriving cities that are liveable and resilient, and that use materials according to circular economy principles.

Recycled from source