ABOUT CIRCULAR CITIES

CITIES: THE
VANGUARD
OF THE CIRCULAR
ECONOMY (CE)

Cities bring circular
models to
market quicker
Cities lend themselves particularly well to circular business models as they act as central infrastructure hubs for key resource flows. If a city wishes to capture and recirculate nutrients more effectively – for example, through industrial symbiosis – then the close proximity of citizens, industry, retailers, service providers and municipal authorities offers an ideal platform to fast-track collaboration.
  • Governance: public authorities have a relevant role designing, planning and implementing the transition towards the new economy. Citizens also have a new power thanks to global access to information and communications. Transparency and engagement appear as new conditions in the context of a city, where citizens are closer to the authorities and governing bodies. Regulation can help address the challenges of the effective implementation of a circular system in cities.
  • Urban planning: to build the system properly the interactions between all the activities and uses that coexist in a city have to be considered. Business, housing, retail, industry, schools, transportation and other services, all have a role to play within a circular system. This complexity brings more resiliency, this being a great advantage of implementing the new economy.
  • Business and industry: a new economy has to be built thinking about new ways to do business and to produce goods and services. Designing facilities and processes to regenerate the environment and to manufacture healthy and recyclable products may bring manufacturers to the city, closer to materials and resources (both human and energy/water).
  • New relationships: the new economy changes the rules. Technical materials (nutrients) are to be perpetually cycled; meaning that many consumer products will in future be thought of as services. Sharing, leasing, virtualising, and other methods, will build a new environment of relationships between citizens in a CE city.

How are cities approaching the circular challenge?

Amsterdam's "circular city" strategy involves all aspects of the CE: energy, waste, water management, health, air pollution, etc. Its methodology relies on a collaborative model that brings together businesses, start-ups, the resident population and NGOs to work on specific pilot projects. Betting on a sustainable supply chain.

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City authorities are aspiring to make car ownership obsolete through the creation of multimodal transport infrastructure and the provision of an app that will allow citizens to purchase mobility on-demand.


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London is developing its own CE routemap, drawing up new specifications for public procurement, and reframing other local government policies to encourage greater reuse of materials and assets.

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Paris is planting the seeds of the CE in the large and productive area of Greater Paris, by seeking out and exploring new possibilities. By running a General Assembly which produced a White Paper they have made a significant first step, which will now encourage other initiatives and raise awareness about this new economy.

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Peterborough, a 2015 World Smart City winner. Peterborough's City Council won the city award for: A Living Smart and Circular Urban Laboratory (United Kingdom). Peterborough, one of the four UK Future City Demonstrators, aspires to become the UK Environment Capital and its first Circular City. Its smart city programme, called Peterborough DNA, has been running since 2013 to implement growth, innovation and supply chain sustainability interlinked end-goals through bottom-up collaborations.

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