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Achieving the Circular Economy: Exploring the Role of Local Governments, Business and Citizens in an Urban Context

Mending clothes

How can cities and urban actors facilitate the circular economy? A Special Issues article points to the complexity that cities are facing and gives glimpses of how circular cities may evolve in the future.

The urban context is an experimentation space to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. This Special Issue explores how and why cities engage in circularity. This Special Issue includes papers from different regions, on a variety of topics, using different methods and suggesting a multitude of tools. In sum, together they show the complexity that cities are facing, but they also provide insights into how circular cities may evolve in the future. The lessons learned from the papers are manifold. First, cities have a multitude of tools to govern the circular economy. They can encourage circular initiatives by, for example, institutionalizing an innovation fund or using their authority to close down activities leading to major emissions. The potential positive role of city governments for the circular economy is undisputed, but city governments also need to reflect upon their power and ensure that their strategies and goals do not outcompete civic society and their engagement. Second, the need for cooperation between actors was highlighted in several papers For example the need for repair shops to establish direct contact with their customers and create trust. Embedding different actors (not only the usual suspects) in an activity, cities can actively contribute so that new cooperation and resource flows develop. Moreover, there is the need to also include citizens when developing strategies for circular cities. Third, the importance of reducing waste was also a recurring issue in the papers. In terms of waste processing, torrefaction was more profitable than incineration and also a good choice for small cities striving to achieve a circular economy.

Read the article here.