Circular economy in the City?
Cities take up a mere three percent of the Earth’s surface, yet they are responsible for 60-80 percent of energy consumption and 75 percent of carbon emissions. Furthermore, such high concentration of people in a small area leads to the production of hundreds of thousands of tons of waste per year.
Problem or Opportunity?
At first glance, the current situation in cities can seem like a problem. Viewing it from a different perspective, however, allows us to start seeing cities as an opportunity. That’s the lens that the Dutch non-profit organization “Circle Economy” looked through when developing Circle City Scans, with the goal of mapping material flows in a given city to recommend strategic adjustments and help return potential waste into the cycle.
The foundation for cities’ successful transition to a circular economy is to identify their largest sources of waste. This typically includes the construction sector, consumer goods production, city services and households. Today, these areas function in a linear economic model, where products are created without regard for what will happen to them at the end of their often quite short life cycle.
One of the main pillars of circular economy is preventing the creation of unnecessary waste. In practice this means starting in the design phase. Instead of products being quickly manufactured, quickly used up and quickly thrown away, it’s important to design products that are smart, fixable and reusable. This change in thinking is important, for example, in the sector of construction.
A look at the Ministry of the Environment’s website reveals that “over half of the overall waste production in CR comes from construction and demolition.” Where does this waste end up? To this day, most of it ends up in landfills. Thanks to Circular Scans and their vision of modular buildings, in the very near future, this could also change.
Why Circular Scans?
Transitioning to a circular economy is one of the ten priorities for the current European Commission. Cities, epicenters of life and population concentration can’t be left behind.
Circular economy lowers cities’ environmental impact. Circular scans close cycles on the smallest possible scale… they support local business and higher value of products, parts and materials as well as regional job creation (Amsterdam Circular 2018).
Numerous global cities, including Amsterdam, Bilbao, Almaty or Portland have already undergone a circular scan and begun making changes accordingly. And in the year 2019, the Circular Scan Prague was born as well.
Michael Londesborough invited circular economy expert and document co-author Vojtěch Vosecký to “Let’s talk about it” to discuss changes that the document has inspired for the city.
Watch the episode here to find out what we in Prague can look forward to coming soon.