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Scaling the Circular Built Environment: pathways for business and government

scaling the circular built environment cover page

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Author: 
WBCSD, Circle Economy
Publication Date: 
12/2018
Country: 
Switzerland

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Contact: 
Brendon Edgerton
Harald Friedl

The circular economy has great potential to help meet global sustainability targets and the Paris Agreement's goals in particular. The built environment, consuming almost half of the world's resources extracted every year and responsible for a massive environmental footprint, is a fundamental sector in the circular transition.

Moving towards a circular built environment involves a shift in roles and business models for stakeholders active in this sector. However, barriers related to culture, regulations, market, technology and education are slowing down the transition.

The private and public sector need to create a level playing field in order for circular materials, products and services to become the new normal in the built environment. This requires bold leadership from both companies and policy-makers who have to transform the market (e.g. by introducing new valuation methods) and implement long-term policies that encourage the scaling of circular solutions (e.g. through circular procurement). Standardization, new forms of collaboration and co-creation processes are essential elements in the transition. Digital innovation, education and information sharing can further drive the change in mindset and culture that is needed to turn the circular built environment into reality.

03 Jun 2019 to 05 Jun 2019
The World Circular Economy Forum is a ground-breaking event that presents the world’s best circular economy solutions and gathers together the most recognised experts and decision makers in the field. Be at the epicentre of the circular economy in Helsink

The World Circular Economy Forum is a ground-breaking event that presents the best innovations for circular economy and gathers the most recognised experts and decision-makers in the field. Be at the epicentre of the circular economy in Helsinki, Finland, on 3 - 5 June 2019.

From the production of agricultural lime to summer barbecues, olive pits make a perfect circular fuel

Klimis:From waste to value

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Country: 
Greece

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KLIMIS has been using the woody part of Greek olive pits as heating fuel for its kiln in order to bake lime stones since 1968. In 1992, it developed a patented process to recycle the residual material from this combustion into highly-efficient, low-emission barbecue briquettes.

African Circular Economy Network - Connecting Europe to 'Circular Africa'

African Circular Economy Network

The African Circular Economy Network (ACEN) is a registered Non-Profit Organisation in South Africa (195-590 NPO).

Its vision is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity inclusive of all its people, through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources.

Research
The research activities of the ACEN will investigate issues, document findings relevant for the African context and its needs. Researchers will be drawn from ACEN members, academics and other stakeholder partners across Africa, but also Europe, Asia or America, where needed.

Training and Awareness
The priority of ACEN is to raise awareness and undertake training amongst key sectors of the African economy: public (government, educational institutions), private (corporates & SMEs), and civil society (non-governmental organisations) to promote the concept, benefits, principles and practice of the Circular Economy.

Networking and Events
ACEN believes that solutions to current challenges require inter-disciplinary skills, multiple stakeholder involvement and regional, African as well as international partnerships. It therefore aims to create platforms where specialists can collaborate to exchange ideas, experiences and solutions. ACEN has hosted several stakeholder engagements to date to enable a global reach. Members from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (UK), Pavia University (Italy), the South African/European Union Partnership (South Africa), the World Economic Forum (Switzerland) and Green Alliance (UK), to name a few, have joined the discussion.

Knowledge Sharing
ACEN currently disseminates and shares knowledge about the circular economy through LinkedIn and Facebook, and in the future, will also use other online channels to develop a strong base of knowledge and information and extend its reach throughout South Africa and Africa.

The network is active in over 24 countries. In 2017 it co-organised the first Circular Economy Conference in Africa with the European Union and the South African Government (World Economic Forum Africa, Durban). It is engaged with the EU to discuss approaches on ways to be inspired by the African continent and enable more circular strategies (less negative impact), and  with training, research and knowledge sharing with corporate and universities.

Circularity Gap Report 2019

Circularity Gap Report 2019

logo of 2019 circularity gap report

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Author: 
Circle Economy
Publication Date: 
01/2019
Country: 
Netherlands

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Contact: 
Harald Friedl

The Circularity Gap Report 2019 finds that the global economy is only 9% circular - just 9% of the 92.8 billion tonnes of minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass that enter the economy are re-used annually. Climate change and material use are closely linked. Circle Economy calculates that 62% of global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding those from land use and forestry) are released during the extraction, processing and manufacturing of goods to serve society’s needs; only 38% are emitted in the delivery and use of products and services.

It highlights the vast scope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by applying circular principles - re-use, re-manufacturing and re-cycling - to key sectors such as the built environment. Yet it notes that most governments barely consider circular economy measures in policies aimed at meeting the UN target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

This report thus highlights three key circular strategies which could be adapted throughout the economy to help limit global warming and gives examples:

  1. Optimising the utility of products by maximising their use and extending their lifetime. Ridesharing and carsharing already make it less important to own a car. Autonomous driving will accelerate this trend, potentially increasing the usage of each vehicle by a factor of eight. At the same time electric powertrains, intelligent maintenance programmes and software integration can enhance the lifetime of cars.
  2. Enhanced recycling, using waste as a resource. By 2050 there will be an estimated 78 million tonnes of decommissioned solar panels. Modular design would enable products to be easily disassembled, components to be re-used and valuable materials to be recovered to extend their economic value and reduce waste.
  3. Circular design, reducing material consumption and using lower-carbon alternatives. Bamboo, wood and other natural materials have the potential to reduce dependence on carbon-intensive materials such as cement and metals in construction. Instead of emitting carbon, these materials store it and will last for decades. They can be burnt to generate energy at the end of their life.

The report also provides recommendations for governments: while The Netherlands has set itself a target of becoming 50% circular by 2030 and 100% by 2050, most governments have yet to wake up to the potential of the circular economy. The report recommends joining up climate change and circular economy strategies to achieve maximum impact, through the use of tax and spending plans to drive change. They should:

  • Abolish financial incentives which encourage overuse of natural resources, such as subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, extraction and consumption;
  • Raise taxes on emissions, excessive resource extraction and waste production, for example by implementing a gradually increasing carbon tax;
  • Lower taxes on labour, knowledge and innovation and invest in these areas. Lower labour taxes will encourage labour-intensive parts of a circular economy such as take-back schemes and recycling.
24 Jan 2019
Circular Electronics Day
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Other (World)

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Encourage individuals and organizations to contribute to a more sustainable use of electronics by sharing tips and inspiring others to re-use products with the hashtag #CircularElectronicsDay!

10 Dec 2018
25 years of Flemish Foreign Policy

The Flemish regional government is organising a conference to celebrate 25 years of Flemish foreign economy. This conference will look at what lies ahead in the field of foreign affairs and analyse the added value of international cooperation in many policy areas, especially those with a significant, and sometimes even disruptive, impact on society, such as the transition to circular economy.

Models of circular business ecosystem for textiles

Model of circular business ecosystem for textiles

Diagram of circular business ecosystem for textiles

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Author: 
Paula Fontell, Pirjo Heikkila
Publication Date: 
11/2017
Country: 
Finland

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Contact: 
Paula Fontell

The Relooping Fashion Initiative (2015-2017) was aimed at piloting and modelling the circular business ecosystem for textiles. This report covers the business ecosystem modelling work and introduces the project team’s crystallized vision of a higher-level system that enables the textiles industry to operate according to the basic principles of a circular economy. 

The focus of the report is on explaining the principles of a circular economy in the context of textiles, and drawing a picture of the key material flows and types of actors along the value cycles from end-user back to end-user. The overall goal is to maintain the value of materials as high as possible, with minimum environmental impact. The different circular business models for textiles are introduced along the value cycles. The report covers 1) repair and maintenance, 2) re-use as product, 3) re-use as material, and 4) recycling-related activities, and business models for post-consumer/user textiles along the entire value chain.

All these processes need to work seamlessly together for the circular business ecosystem to function effectively. New recycling technologies are crucial to solving the global textile waste problem, and to be able to replace some of the virgin materials such as cotton with recycled textile materials. The report also discusses the topic of shared value creation in the circular economy context.

Circular Economy and Employment

figure displaying employment effects of eco-innovation
Author: 
Prof. Dr. Jens Horbach, Klaus Rennings, Katrin Sommerfeld
Publication Date: 
09/2015
Country: 
Germany

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Contact: 
Jens Horbach

Circular Economy and Employment first summarizes the main definitions and conceptualisations of a circular economy, then clarifies the relationship to related concepts such as green growth and eco-innovation. This report is the outcome of a project estimating the employment effects of a circular economy.

The Circular Economy mainly focuses on savings on the shares of material, labour, energy, and capital embedded in the product. In finite systems it is intended to “design out waste”. An important difference is made between consumables (one or few time usage) and durables (years of usage) products. Material savings can be achieved by already established recycling and remanufacturing activities finally aiming at a “zero waste economy”. More recently, the contribution of green ICT leading to less material inputs (“digital revolution”, e.g. photos are no longer printed but distributed by e-mail or social media), a general greater importance of services, the evolution of the sharing economy (e. g. car sharing) or a higher utilisation rate for products for the circular economy are discussed.

Detailed concepts of green growth from OECD, UNEP, EEA and the Global Green Growth Institute are also considered. Green growth means fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies. Investment and (eco-) innovation activities shall give rise to new, more sustainable sources of growth and development. Moving towards a circular economy may be understood as a tool to achieve a green economy, a circular economy is one of the main elements helping to achieve the greening of an economy.

Organising for the Circular Economy. A Workbook for Developing Circular Business Models.

Organising for the Circular Economy - A Workbook for Developing Circular Business Models.

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Author: 
Jan Jonker, Niels Faber, Ivo Kothman, Naomi Montenegro Navarro
Publication Date: 
05/2018
Country: 
Netherlands

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Contact: 
Jan Jonker
Naomi Montenegro Navarro

The workbook 'Organising for the Circular Economy - A Workbook for Developing Circular Business Models' supports companies and other organisations that aim to become circular by providing a unique model that highlights the various building blocks of circular business models.

A concrete step-by-step approach allows organisations to work on the development of their own circular business model. To clarify and inspire, a set of infographics displaying the cycles of 30 front-runner organisations from the Netherlands, which already actively incorporate circularity in their business operations, is provided alongside the workbook.

The workbook and infographics can be downloaded free of charge from this website.

Social Circular Economy: Opportunities for People, Planet and Profit

Social Circular Economy Report cover

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Author: 
Social Circular Economy, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, The Frank Jackson Foundation
Publication Date: 
07/2018
Country: 
United Kingdom

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Is the current circular economy paradigm enough? Will it get us to a fairer society and flourishing planet? Will it allow us to meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals? Perhaps not. There could be a different way: by combining social enterprise and circular economy (= social circular economy), to deliver benefits to people, planet and profit.

​The Social Circular Economy report provides insights from our engagement with 30+ organisations from around the world that are using the value creating approaches of the circular economy to deliver environmental, societal and economic benefits. From a recycling hub supporting a disability rehabilitation centre to corporate uniform repurposing with women's collectives, there are organisations innovating business models and processes to do business better and help meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. This report covers:

  • What is the social circular economy?
  • What are the themes across social circular enterprises?
  • What are examples of these organisations?
  • How can you or your organisation participate?

Food packaging in the circular economy: Overview of chemical safety aspects for commonly used materials

Food packaging in the circular economy: Overview of chemical safety aspects for commonly used materials

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Author: 
Geueke, Birgit, Groh, Ksenia, Muncke, Jane
Publication Date: 
05/2018
Country: 
Switzerland

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Contact: 
Birgit Geueke

Food packaging facilitates storage, handling, transport, and preservation of food and is essential for preventing food waste. In the existing economic system, food packaging is generally designed for single-use and discarded after relatively short periods of time, a scheme that is no longer acceptable in the transition to a circular economy.

This paper offers a detailed analysis in food packaging materials with respect to properties, recycling, and contaminants. It also discusses different approaches such as weight reduction versus recyclability or deposit and reuse schemes for permanent material-based food packaging.

Linear Risks

Linear Risks Report

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Author: 
Shyaam Ramkumar , Frido Kraanen, Rik Plomp , Brendan Edgerton , Arnoud Walrecht , Ines Baer, Peter Hirsch
Publication Date: 
05/2018
Country: 
Switzerland

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Contact: 
WBCSD

Society and businesses are becoming increasingly aware that the resources needed for products are not infinite. There is growing pressure on the availability of resources due to a variety of factors including the expected increase in global consumption of goods spurred by a growing global middle class.

The report aims to introduce the various business risks of common ‘linear economy’ business practices and start a dialogue with the financial and business community about their implications. Building on this report, there is an objective to explore further directions to better understand and model them. Hopefuly, these risks will one day become an integral part of investment decisions to ensure better investment decisions that achieve long-term stability and growth.

The Macroeconomics of the Circular Economy Transition

 The Macroeconomics of the Circular Economy Transition

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Author: 
Andrew McCarthy, Rob Dellink, Ruben Bibas
Publication Date: 
04/2018
Country: 
Other (International organisation)

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Contact: 
OECD Library

This paper reviews the existing literature on modelling the macroeconomic consequences of the transition to a circular economy. It provides insights into the current state of the art on modelling policies to improve resource efficiency and the transition to a circular economy by examining 24 modelling-based assessments of a circular economy transition. Four key conclusions emerge from this literature. First, most models find that a transition to a more circular economy – with an associated reduction in resource extraction and waste generation – could have an insignificant or even positive impact on aggregate macroeconomic outcomes. Second, all models highlight the potential re-allocation effects – both between sectors and regions – that the introduction of circular economy enabling policies could have. Third, certain types of macroeconomic model are more appropriate for assessing the transition than others, notably due to their accounting of interactions between sectors and macroeconomic feedbacks. Fourth, of the assumptions that are fed into these models – those concerning future rates of productivity growth, the substitutability between different material types, and future consumption patterns – are key determinants of model outcomes. 

Renewable Materials for a Low-Carbon and Circular Future

Renewable Materials for a Low-Carbon and Circular Future

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Author: 
Essity, IKEA, Royal DSM and Tetra Pak
Publication Date: 
04/2018
Country: 
EU

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Contact: 
Stella Chavin
CE100

Achieving the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement climate targets will hinge upon the global transition to a low-carbon circular economy. Replacing finite and fossil-based materials with responsibly managed renewable materials could decrease carbon emissions whilst reducing dependency on finite resources.

However, the role that renewable materials can play in the circular economy is often under-rated, and, so far, most of the conversation has focussed on biodegradability, instead of the role they could play in reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling streams. The aim of the Collaborative Project was to start a conversation on the role of renewables in the circular economy, and in order to do this, set out the opportunities and challenges that companies face when using/shifting to renewable materials today and propose a shared vision for the future.

Money Makes The World Go Round

Money Makes The World Go Round

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Author: 
Frido Kraanen
Publication Date: 
03/2016
Country: 
EU

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Contact: 
CE100

This report is the result of a collaborative project which was carried out by members of the Circular Economy 100, a program curated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The participants aimed to: (1) understand the implications of a circular economy on the business and financing models of companies; (2) determine how a transition to a circular economy can be supported and accelerated by the financial system; and (3) co-develop and share communication strategies and tools to make the transition clear and tangible to our colleagues, clients, and academics.

Circular Business Models for the Built Environment

Circular Business Models for the Built Environment

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Author: 
Guglielmo Carra, Arup, Nitesh Magdani, BAM
Publication Date: 
03/2017
Country: 
EU

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To support the transition to the circular economy, governance, regulations and business models will play a crucial role. More importantly, circular business models (CBMs) would allow the retention of an asset at its highest value over time and support enhancement of natural capital. Different CBMs will be required at different stages of a lifecycle of an asset and may work independently or collaboratively. Successful implementation of these business models will require action from designers, suppliers, service providers, contractors and end-of-life companies by sharing materials, systems, energy, as well as information and services.

Keeping Customer Connections

Keeping Customer Connections

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Author: 
Anna Vinogradova, Walmart, David Rakowski, PA Consulting
Publication Date: 
03/2018
Country: 
United Kingdom

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Contact: 
Stella Chavin

The circular economy offers a new way of looking at the relationships between markets, customers and our use of resources. It uses innovative new business models and designs, disruptive technologies and reverse logistics to transform the current ‘take, make, dispose’ economic model. Circular initiatives work to three principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems. 

Highlighting that many retailers are already tapping into circular economy thinking, this report is the output of a Collaborative Project carried out by Arizona State University, Cranfield University, eBay, Kingfisher, PA Consulting, Philips, Stuffstr and Wrap to identify new ways of working to generate value, discover new business opportunities and reduce resource costs - strategies which fundamentally change the relationship these retailers have with customers.

From waste to resource productivity: evidence and case studies

From waste to resource productivity: evidence and case studies

From waste to resource productivity: evidence and case studies

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Author: 
Government Chief Scientific Adviser
Publication Date: 
12/2017
Country: 
United Kingdom

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Contact: 
Dr Richard Leese

All societies produce waste, though its characteristics and what happens to it depend on cultural, economic and political factors at local, national and global scales. New business models, technological innovations and social enterprise have the potential to reduce waste. Policymakers have a key role to play in supporting these efforts by fostering better communication between stakeholders; through regulation that prioritises reuse and quality recycling; and by encouraging resource efficiency through education, research and manufacturing initiatives.

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