Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Creating Circular Cities (Open ALEX)


On February the 27th, the Sharing Cities Alliance co-hosted together with Sarah O'Carroll - Government & Cities Network Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation - an online seminar on circular cities. Several participants from the network joined us, with representatives from the United States, as well as European policymakers and experts from different fields. 

What was the seminar about?

The seminar focused on the opportunities of the circular economy, and the principles it is build on, as well as the intersection with the sharing economy. The host then presented some key urban systems (buildings, products, mobility) where the policymakers can intervene in five phases - planning, designing, making, accessing, operating and maintaining. FInally, we discussed the different policy levers in place to promote the circular economy in cities. 

Key points of the seminar:

  • The circular economy is based on three principles: design out waste & pollution, keep products and material in use, regenerate natural systems 
  • The sharing economy and the circular economy can be complementary, but something might fit in one and not in the other
  • Products: design is a key phase - more than 80% of a product's environmental impact is determined at the design stage. CE opportunities include design for reuse and multiple cycles, sourcing local materials, promoting product-as-a-service models, refurbishing products for re-use 

  • Mobility: the CE is seen as a mechanism to reduce transport related emissions related to trade. Product-as-a-service models are expected to reduce overall transport needs, but there will also be a need for more frequent reverse logistics loads as maintenance and repair is needed before re-use. Using big data may provide a solution to optimise mobility systems.
  • Policy levers for governments: vision, engagement, urban management, economic incentives, regulation

  • Opportunities: making glocally, maintaining products and community, growing and developing markets, creating & improving access (examples in the recording)

You can watch here the full seminar recording: