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LWARB London’s Circular Economy Routemap

June 11, 2020

LWARB London’s Circular Economy Routemap

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap

The LWARB London’s Circular Economy Routemap is a first step in a journey to a London where it is commonplace for both businesses and consumers to access services rather than own products, to get furniture remanufactured instead of buying new, or where we can rent tools and equipment instead of buying them.

On a larger scale our houses and infrastructure will be built in a way that allows the materials in them to be re-used or adapted. Businesses will see the benefit in recovering their products to remanufacture and re-sell them or recover parts and materials.

The potential prize is significant: London could receive a net benefit of up to £7bn a year by 2036 if we accelerate our transition, £2.8bn of which can be accessed by delivering the actions in this route map document. The other £4.2bn of benefit comes from the UK, Europe and the world embracing circular economy.

Collaboration is vital if we are to achieve this. We are working closely with the GLA (particularly on policy and procurement) and many other stakeholders in our focus areas of built environment, food, textiles, electricals and plastics in order to leverage this opportunity for the capital. We’re also collaborating with organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, WRAP and the C40 to play our part in making this happen.

Our vision is for London to be the global leader in the delivery of circular economy, sharing learning and good practice with other cities around the world. This will make a substantial contribution to the Mayor’s aspiration to become a zero carbon city by 2050.

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) has a circular economy programme which brings together £50m of investment to 2020, as well as setting up targeted demonstration projects, creating a collaboration hub, communicating circular economy benefits and inspiring policy development in the capital.

I urge you to join LWARB in bringing this route map to life for London. Liz Goodwin OBE, Chair of LWARB

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Potential

“Circular economy has the potential to play a key role in achieving our environmental targets by keeping materials and products in use for longer, re-using and remanufacturing them. LWARB’s route map outlines how we can take advantage of this opportunity and I look forward to seeing examples of circular economy throughout the city inspiring others to replicate London’s success.” Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy

“This route map acknowledges the role London boroughs play in accelerating the growth and development of the circular economy across the capital and sets out an ambitious plan of action. We look forward to rising to this challenge and ensuring our residents see the environmental and financial benefits as London grows and changes in the years to come.” Cllr Julian Bell, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, London Councils

“Saint-Gobain is both delighted and excited to support London’s Circular Economy route map and through active collaboration with like-minded organisations looks forward to the challenge of accelerating the circular economy. This is central to our purpose to deliver a sustainable built environment that meets the needs of individuals and communities.” Andy Turner, Strategic Development Director and Director of Resource Services Saint-Gobain Limited

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Cities

Cities are the engine room of the circular economy. Globally, for the first time ever, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. It is the power of cities that will drive the global development of the circular economy – an approach which provides a sustainable and profitable alternative to the way our economy currently works.

The current economy is linear, which means that things are made with virgin raw materials, used and then thrown away. In contrast, a circular economy keeps products and materials circulating within the economy at their highest value for as long as possible, through re-use, recycling, remanufacturing, delivering products as services and sharing.

A circular economy approach is not only more resource efficient but also protects businesses from fluctuating commodity prices. It provides an opportunity to develop a more stable operating environment for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Circular economy business models may be of particular benefit to London in the post-Brexit economic environment creating the possibility of new revenue streams, markets and product lines.

This is LWARB’s vision for London – a circular city which capitalises on these opportunities to become a more resilient, resource-efficient and competitive city of the future. Elsewhere in the UK others are aspiring to do the same, including cities such as Glasgow and Peterborough.

Other leading cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Paris and Phoenix are starting to develop circular economy actions and strategies too. This is a truly global movement; and because the circular economy embraces new business models that rely on new technology, it has the ability to be active at both the community level and the global corporate level.

London is growing fast. The capital’s population is predicted to reach over 11 million by 2050, making a more flexible and sustainable approach to products, housing, office space and critical infrastructure crucial to London’s ability to adapt and grow. The circular economy provides a sustainable and profitable solution to the challenges of this dramatic growth: by 2036, the circular economy could provide London with net benefits of at least £7bn every year and 40,000 new jobs (12,000 net additional jobs) in the capital by 2036 in the areas of re-use, remanufacturing and materials innovation.

The route map is an action-orientated document, developed in partnership with relevant London stakeholders. It is conservatively estimated that the actions in the route map can contribute £2.8bn towards the £7bn opportunity identified.

LWARB, through this and continuing work, is positioning itself as the lead facilitator of circular economy activity in London, not just through collaboration but by developing and investing in circular economy business in London. The city is already home to a number of exciting circular businesses across a range of sectors, each one of them already contributing to the capital’s economy, demonstrating that London is an outward looking city with one of the most open and dynamic economies in the world. London is open.

Our ambition is that, through collaborations with circular economy businesses and the work of stakeholders and policy makers across the capital, London will become the world’s leading exponent of circular economy thinking and practice.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Econonmy Routemap Opportunities

This route map follows on from the context and opportunities document ‘Towards a circular economy’ published in December 2015. The route map comprises of: Details of the cross cutting themes that will help to create the right conditions to accelerate the circular economy. Recommendations to support these themes and put them into practice in the capital.

For each of the five focus areas identified in ‘Towards a circular economy’ – built environment, food, textiles, electricals and plastics – this document goes on to outline: LWARB’s vision for a more circular economy for London. Short, medium and long term action and policy options that set out how London can make progress towards its circular economy vision.

For each of the five focus areas, the recommended action and policy options have been developed with groups of expert and experienced stakeholders from the relevant sectors, through a series of facilitated workshops.

Next steps – LWARB will work with the GLA using the recommendations in this route map to inform the development of upcoming strategies, including the London Environment Strategy. LWARB has signed up to a number of actions within the route map that will inform its circular economy programme to 2020 and invites stakeholders to take ownership of other actions.

The actions have associated outputs, outcomes and impacts as well as, where possible, resources identified. Resources fall into one of three categories as set out below:

  • Resource identified and plan in place.
  • Partners interested – resource not identified.
  • No resources identified.

The level of impact achieved will be directly related to the level of resources given to the activity. Timescales for actions have also been identified as short (to 2020), medium (2020 – 2027) and long term (2027 – 2036). 2036 was chosen as the end point for this route map to reflect the developing London Plan. The end point for the London Plan has now been updated to 2041, which further updates to this route map will reflect. LWARB will develop a set of key performance indicators to measure direction of travel towards a more circular economy in London.

As an organisation we encourage others with an interest in circular economy to sign up to the actions in this route map. LWARB will also put together cases for funding and resources to help deliver those actions, looking for support from corporates, foundations, trusts and both national and EU grants where appropriate.

We will also provide an update on the route map on an annual basis, to reflect progress and participation across the capital. We invite organisations of all kinds to join LWARB in supporting the actions in this document, and help us all move this exciting opportunity forward.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Themes


LWARB’s ‘Towards a circular economy’ document sets out the context and opportunities for London. But what needs to happen to realise these opportunities? The following eight cross-cutting themes were identified by our stakeholder groups as being key to creating the right conditions for a circular economy to flourish in London.

1. Communications The benefits of a circular economy need to be shared more widely amongst different sectors to ensure greater adoption. Communications must be clear and relevant to the sector. Case studies of existing circular economy projects should be provided to help people understand the concept and see what it can mean in practice. There is also a need for informal circular economy ambassadors in organisations – LWARB has already started recruiting ambassadors in local authorities.

It is also important to collate learning from demonstrator projects. There is a need to share lessons learned on projects that didn’t work so well, as well as celebrating the successful projects. LWARB will start to collate relevant case studies on its website and become a hub for circular economy projects in London. We will also publish a series of blogs about circular economy in London to encourage a debate on challenging issues.

2. Collaboration To enable the circular economy, collaboration right across the supply chain is essential, ensuring that everybody in that chain benefits. This collaboration should take place both across London, strategically between cities and locally at the community level. Whilst there is now plenty of information and resources available about implementing the circular economy, it is often a lack of collaboration that prevents further progress. A London circular economy hub would promote collaboration by facilitating and hosting Cross cutting themes – Creating the right conditions to accelerate the circular economy

LWARB’s ‘Towards a circular economy’ document sets out the context and opportunities for London. But what needs to happen to realise these opportunities? The following eight cross-cutting themes were identified by our stakeholder groups as being key to creating the right conditions for a circular economy to flourish in London. Conversations between businesses, the public sector and academia. LWARB will start to develop this hub for London. LWARB and the GLA are members of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 (CE 100) network in order to collaborate with other cities, regions and businesses that are exploring circular economy approaches. The CE 100 gives London the opportunity to share experiences and learn from others in the areas of policy development, business support, demonstration projects and innovation.

3. Policy The Mayor of London has varying degrees of influence and powers around economic development, planning, and transport as well as waste. The Mayor has committed to reinvigorate efforts to increase the amount London recycles, so that we get back on track with hitting the 65% target by 2030,creating more jobs through re-use, remanufacturing, materials innovation and to London becoming a zero carbon city by 2050. Circular economy can support the delivery of all these commitments. To achieve this the development of a circular economy should be accelerated by integrating the concept into London’s policy framework.

Local authorities also play a key role in the move to a more circular economy. They have powers around housing, local plan development and implementation, economic development, waste management and health and well being. Opportunities to lobby the UK government to promote circular economy as a way of supporting national growth, especially in the light of the decision to leave the EU, should also be explored. For example, the LWARB consultation response to the developing Industrial Strategy emphasised the role circular economy can play in strengthening our wider economy.

4. Procurement and Market Development Public sector organisations procuring goods and services in London should challenge the markets to use new and innovative circular economy business models that are resource efficient and financially attractive. The Mayor and the GLA family are leading development in this area, and have started by updating their responsible procurement strategy. Each organisation that is part of the GLA family will be writing an action plan for the effective delivery of the updated policy.

Together, the GLA family of organisations (Greater London Authority, Transport for London, Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority) spend almost £11 billion a year on goods and services. London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London spend in the region of £20bn annually based on 2014/15 budgets.

There are also opportunities to leverage the huge buying power of the private sector in London, especially if companies join forces to pool their procurements. Many of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 businesses are based, or have a significant presence, in London and these companies are well placed to lead the way in this area.

Learning from others in this area is key and the GLA will look to partners and projects in Europe that are demonstrating good procurement practice, particularly the Green Deal for procurement in the Netherlands.

5. Finance Availability of affordable capital will be critical in driving a move to a circular economy in London. Due to the innovative nature of some circular economy business models, businesses often find it difficult to access traditional types of finance. This may be down to a lack of understanding by the financial community of circular economy business models, their perception of risk, or because these new models are not compatible with existing lending criteria.

In particular there is a lack of funding available for circular SMEs who are too small to secure bank finance, have limited cash flow or do not have the high growth rates required to attract venture capital investment.

LWARB is proposing to tackle this by implementing an investment strategy which supports the development and growth of circular economy SMEs from creating the right conditions to accelerate the circular economy London’s Circular Economy route map from start-up through to maturity, through incubation/acceleration, venture capital and private equity funds.

6. Business Support Exploring, adopting or expanding circular models can be a complicated and time consuming process for businesses, particularly those that have limited resources. Providing specialist advisory services and support networks will be fundamental in helping companies make the transition to a more circular business approach, along with sharing best practice from real-life case studies.

Corporates and existing advisory firms can help to disseminate circular ideas and support through encouraging disruptive innovation within their supply chains.

LWARB has established Advance London, a circular economy business support programme that is funded in partnership with European Regional Development Funds. Advance London will provide help and advice to businesses seeking to scale up an existing circular economy business model or transition into circular economy business models. Working with other business support organisations in London will be key and LWARB has already built relationships with organisations such as Capital Enterprise and the Federation of Small Businesses to share learnings.

LWARB is also developing an accelerator programme for start-ups looking to operate within the circular economy in 2017/18. London is such a vibrant place for start-ups and LWARB wants to channel that entrepreneurial spirit into accelerating the circular economy.

7. Demonstration Demonstration projects and business model pilots are a great way to show other companies and policy makers how the circular economy can work in practice. London is an ideal place to host these and the city should aspire to have a number of flagship demonstrator projects across a range of sectors. It is vital to capture the learning from these demonstrators, both positive and negative, to frame future projects. It is also important to find a set of metrics and indicators that allow comparison between demonstrators.

8. Innovation There is a real opportunity for companies to gain competitive advantage in the market by offering circular economy approaches rather than more traditional ways of doing business. The circular economy is already leveraging technology to find new ways of working and changing consumer behaviour.

London is already at the forefront of the digital revolution, with an existing ecosystem of accelerators and incubators in place – and harnessing these skills will be critical in turning circular ideas into sustainable, value adding products, services and businesses. There are already inspiring examples across the city of circular innovation that have the potential to be scaled up on a global basis, from bioscience, materials, the Internet of Things through to nanotechnology applications.

London’s higher education community also has a lot to offer here, providing the opportunity to research and test some of the new ideas being developed in the capital and find solutions to challenges in implementing those ideas. Both Imperial College London and UCL have shown great interest in supporting the route map and have their own circular economy programmes.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Recommendations

Recommendations – LWARB London’s Circular Economy Routemap

LWARB will develop these recommendations to be smarter over the short term period of the route map by collaborating with the specific sectors mentioned.

The Mayor and the GLA 

  • That the Mayor takes a leadership role in the acceleration of the circular economy and sets a vision for London to be the global leader in a supporting circular business approach.
  • That the GLA Group seeks to procure its good and services in a way which develops the market for circular goods and services.
  • That the Mayor incorporates circular economy into his main strategic documents such as the London Plan, the Environment Strategy, the Transport Strategy and Economic Development Strategy. creating the right conditions to accelerate the circular economy

London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB)

  • That LWARB acts as a hub for circular economy good practice, networks and learning for London. That LWARB works with stakeholders to identify and co-ordinate ways to support SMEs to use circular business models.
  • That LWARB works with stakeholders to identify ways to access appropriate finance for SMEs working in the circular economy space, from start-ups to established businesses.
  • That LWARB work on metrics to demonstrate the contribution circular economy can make to London’s zero carbon city aspirations.

Private sector/trade bodies/business support organisations 

  • That the private sector analyses the opportunities that circular economy can bring to their businesses, exploring areas in which they can innovate.
  • That the private sector looks to leverage its collective buying power to achieve good value outcomes from circular economy goods and services.
  • That London-based business members of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE 100 network come together and work with LWARB to pioneer new approaches in the acceleration of the circular economy at a city level.

Local authorities

  • That local authorities explore ways in which circular economy business models can help them reduce costs and deliver improved services to residents.
  • That local authorities look to develop local programmes to support the acceleration of the circular economy.


  • That London higher education institutions explore ways they can support the circular economy transition at a city level through research and shared experience.
  • That the higher education institutions in London take on board identified challenges to the acceleration of circular economy as research opportunities.
  • That education institutions at all levels develop teaching about the circular economy, and skills to enable the transition to the circular economy.

Finance community

  • That the London finance community explores the opportunity that circular economy presents and how it can respond to that opportunity.
  • That the London finance community works collectively to address the issue of circular economy businesses not being able to access finance.

Digital community

  • That the London digital community invests time in exploring the ways in which digital applications can enable the circular economy – for example in the areas of asset tracking and sharing.

Social enterprise and communities

  • That social enterprises and communities continue to innovate and lead the way in delivering circular economy solutions to local challenges, creating not only environmental but also social benefits. creating the right conditions to accelerate the circular economy.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Built Environment

One of the challenge facing London is to provide access to the housing, business premises and infrastructure that the capital’s residents and workers require – but in an efficient and sustainable way. This can be substantially helped by adopting a circular economy approach to the built environment in London.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Food

The food challenge facing London is to provide for the capital’s growing resident, worker and visitor population in an efficient, affordable and sustainable way. Embedding circular economy principles into the food economy of the capital creates the opportunity not just to build awareness of the value of food but also for stakeholders across London to experience financial and environmental benefits at a household, business and city level.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Textiles

London is home to a number of well respected fashion institutions such as the Textiles Futures Research Centre and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, with London Fashion Week a highlight in the haute couture year. As such London is perfectly placed to influence both the design and production of clothes in a way that will have an impact both in our capital city and around the world.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Electricals

While London does not differ greatly from the rest of the UK in terms of consumer electricals, it does represent a significant opportunity due to the large number of businesses based in the capital requiring IT equipment and support.

ISB Global LWARB Londons Circular Economy Routemap Plastics

Plastics bring many benefits to our lives: from protecting our food to the clothes we wear, from cosmetics production to household appliances. The use of plastics is widespread and diverse. Unfortunately, plastics usage can have significant and adverse impact upon the environment.

Recycled from LWARB London’s Circular Economy Routemap