Imagine a city that promotes the transition from a linear to a circular economy in an integrated and inclusive way by collaborating with municipalities, utility companies, citizens, businesses, and the research community to develop and test business models that decouple resource use from economic growth. A city that maintains the value and utility of products, resources, and materials for as long as possible in order to close the loop and minimise new resource use and waste generation. A city that through public procurement and investment budgets drives demand for circular products and services. And by doing all of this, improves human wellbeing, reduces emissions and pollution, protects our environment and enhances biodiversity, while leaving no one behind —in line with the bigger goals and strategies we want to achieve: the EU Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Such a circular city looks beyond returning to business-as-usual in the post-Pandemic times, and instead seeks to find different, more sustainable and resilient strategies for its future.
Circular Economy: What Are the Stakes?
Natural systems are circular par excellence from which we can draw inspiration. The ‘take-make-dispose’ principle is the conventional way through which humans have been producing and consuming – but our planet has been pushed to the limits and it is high time for a fundamental change of course. A circular approach to both production and consumption is no longer a topic of discussion; it is rather the imperative of our era. At an EU level, the Circular Economy Action Plan, as part of the EU Green Deal, lays the ground for designing sustainability into products and services. Cities and regions, as major stakeholders in fields such as construction, mobility, food, waste management, products and services, and more, have a vital role to play in the transition to circular economy. For a comprehensive take on the multi-faceted role of cities in circular economy – watch our webinar Circular Economy on a City Level and check out our Circular Economy Guidebook for Cities.
Cities: Why Are they Key?
Home to over 55 % of the world’s entire population, cities are responsible for 70 % of all greenhouse gas emissions*, 75 % of all consumption of natural resources, and 50 % of the global waste. On the other side, cities are epicentres of innovation and facilitators in socio-economic transformations. At the CSCP, we see cities and regions with a two-fold role: as suppliers and consumers of (circular) goods and services, but also as enablers. In the latter case, they provide instruments and infrastructure for local communities and the economy to transition to circularity. They could be change agents for sustainability if they increasingly internalise principles of circularity. The “reward” is not only a higher quality of life for citizens, but also a promising economic potential: according to the European Commission, waste prevention, eco-design, reuse and similar measures could lead to net annual savings of 600 billion Euros.
Fostering a Systems Change
Circular Economy has long been seen as a primarily technical challenge, considering that resources needed to be transferred into long-lasting applications that could be easily recycled and kept in the loop. This approach overlooks how deeply the current linear model is rooted in regulatory frameworks, governance structures, processes, and human behaviour. Moreover, a hallmark of circular economy, namely business models that rely on providing services instead of selling products, are still sidelined in institutional structures. That’s why the transition to circular economy needs a systems approach and change. This is what we are working on through innovative programmes such as City Loops and by leading the discussion with all relevant stakeholders as in our Circular Economy on a City Level webinar. The CSCP and its partners have also developed the European Circular Cities Declaration, a commitment, guiding and learning platform designed to accelerate the transition to circular economy. We call on cities to sign the declaration and become circularity pioneers! Through our engagement at the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform – a key European platform – we are supporting the common work of all relevant actors, cities included, to make the transition to circular economy not only possible, but also fair and just for everyone.
Making Circularity Work for Citizens
The European Commission recognises the need to “make circularity work for people, regions and cities”. Innovation, education, and a huge shift in mobility and urban planning are all necessary steps towards circular cities and regions. Circularity is about engaging people – all people! It is about co-creation processes involving civil society, administrations, businesses, and academia. It is about experimenting and trying out new approaches as well as understanding what role human behaviour plays and how to incentivise behaviour change where it is needed. In our recent workshop Nudging and Beyond: Consumers Towards Circular Behaviours, as part of EU Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference 2020 , we explored the modalities of turning existing behavioural science and circular economy know-how into a step-wise process that makes it easier for consumers to take up circular behaviours. Conversely, analysing citizen’s behaviour can also inform about where interventions in the system are needed to make it work for people. In our CSCP initiative Consumer Insight Action Panel we do just that by looking at specific circular endeavours of our participants and explore its behaviour component to find the right solutions to enable circularity. The circular economy is not merely a technical feat and the “variable” human behaviour has often been overlooked but must be considered when designing successful circular systems.
Circular Waste Management
As a classic responsibility of cities—waste management is related to numerous challenges: limited space, what to do with the different types of waste, low recycling rates. Designing circular processes reduces waste by design and reuses waste in highly efficient and innovative ways. On top of reducing pollution, a circular approach to waste management entails growth potentials for cities by keeping materials in the economy for as long as possible and minimising resource loss. Biowaste in particular is very promising from a circular perspective: think of biopesticides or bioplastics as prime examples. However, and despite its high decomposability, huge amounts of biowaste still end up on landfills. Cities are faced with challenges ranging from finding the right recycling technologies through to aligning with other stakeholders in the process. In our projects SCALIBUR and HOOP, we support cities in choosing, financing, and implementing technologies for recycling biowaste that work for all parties involved. Through our concept of Biowaste Clubs, we ensure that key local stakeholders along the entire biowaste value chain get involved, work together, and co-design solutions that yield real, positive impacts. We look forward to replicating and scaling up this expertise and unleashing the circular potential of waste management!
Circular Public Procurement
The European Union is increasingly calling for a “purchase of works, goods or services that seek to contribute to the closed energy and material loops within supply chains, whilst minimising, and in the best case avoiding, negative environmental impacts and waste creation across the whole life-cycle”**. Through procurement, cities have a powerful tool at hand to incentivise circularity: circular demand triggers circular supply! We support the development and implementation of a circular procurement strategy and management, including definition of priorities, engagement of key actors, and capacity building.
Let’s Collaborate for Circular Cities
The transition to circular economy needs a comprehensive approach that looks to maximise the social, economic and environmental impacts while being inclusive and leaving no one behind. We are keen on supporting municipalities and stakeholders to develop strategic, long-term circular solutions that take into account multiple perspectives and use the overlapping between them in smart and impact-driven ways. Let’s join hands in making cities circularity champions!
For further information, please contact Cristina Fedato.
**EU, Green Public Procurement
How many times a year does one use a drilling machine, a backpack or a tent, if at all? Most likely, just a couple of times. Despite that, consumers spend a lot of money on products that, after sporadic use, are stored for most part of the year. The story of Vaude is an example of the potential of renting models and their multiple benefits for companies and customers alike.
During the R2Pi project, the CSCP collaborated with the German clothing and outdoor company Vaude on a “Product-As-a-Service Business Model”. In one in-house strategy workshop with key participants of the relevant business units of Vaude, the CSCP set up a case study and discussed future products for Vaude’s iRentit business model.
Vaude, a sustainability pioneer in the German market, aimed to further increase value for its customers. In achieving this, the CSCP and Vaude evaluated new possibilities to expand Vaude’s product portfolio for the ‘iRentit’ offering. This particular Circular Business Model, as applied in Vaude’s case, focuses on ‘Performance’ and ‘Access over Ownership’. These ‘Product-as-a-Service’ models allow customers to rent what they need for their temporary or particular use instead of a one-time purchase. This resonates positively with the increasing trend that customers value access over ownership. Moreover, they can try new products while saving money and storage space at home. ‘Product-as-a-Service’ models increase flexibility and ensure that resources and products are not wasted and find their way back into circulation. This enables companies to reduce their resource costs, become more resilient to global supply chain dynamics, and get a head start towards reaching the circularity goals set by the EU Green Deal. Additionally, this raises the incentives on the companies’ ends to provide stronger and better-performing products that maintain or even increase value over time.
The workshop with Vaude was customised to the company’s specific needs focussing on understanding and setting the current ‘iRentit’ business model into context, and then, as a second step, innovating on new business model options in order to expand Vaude’s renting activities.
During the EU funded Horizon 2020 project ‘R2Pi – The route to the Circular Economy’, the CSCP and its consortium partners had the opportunity to further develop a process that supports companies in creating a circular vision and engaging with the most relevant stakeholders on the way. If you are keen on learning more about our Circular Business Innovation journey please contact us. At the CSCP, we have a passion for circularity and look forward to collaborating with you exploring your circular opportunities
For further details, please contact Patrick Bottermann.
How can retailers in the food sector play an active role in supporting the transition towards healthier and more sustainable food consumption in view of the Farm to Fork Strategy, part of the EU Green Deal? What can we learn from behavioural interventions applied in real-life contexts and what is the way ahead to scale them up? To find answers to these questions, join us on 19 November 2020, 15:00-16:30 CET, at the Virtual @EATHome Newscast!
The interactive webinar ‘Putting solutions in the shopping basket: food retailer approaches and interventions to support more sustainable food consumption’, brings together EU policymakers, food retailers, and academics in a discussion about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to fostering sustainable food consumption. Register here to join the webcast!
The participants will have the opportunity to post questions and interact directly with the speakers through the chat.
Date: 19 November 2020
Time: 15:00-16:30 CET
The webcast is held within the framework of CSCP project Valumics, funded by the European Commission.
For further questions, please contact Mariana Nicolau.
Banks and other financial institutions have been increasingly in the spotlight in the face of growing expectations related to their role in addressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. The Coronavirus pandemic has brought certain sustainability aspects, such as emergency readiness or resilience capacities, even more to the fore. To be fit for a changing world and proactively engage in higher social and environmental aims, Sparkasse Wuppertal has set up its Sustainability Committee, to which Michael Kuhndt, CSCP Executive Director, has been appointed.
The committee members, which are experts in the fields of business and science, will advise the Sparkasse Wuppertal Board of Management on topics such as sustainable mobility, environmental protection, social responsibility, and the future of work. In a mission statement released after the kick-off meeting, the committee members noted that their work will focus on improving the social, economic and ecological sustainability impact of Sparkasse Wuppertal by offering concrete proposals.
“We want to gradually improve our social, economic and ecological sustainability impact in our customer business, in our own operations, and in our support of community tasks. In order to achieve this goal, we are also relying on external impetus. On impulses from people who bring experience, knowledge and passion in the areas of climate and environmental protection and sustainable business.”, shared Gunther Wölfges, Chairman of the Board of Sparkasse Wuppertal.
“In today’s world, financial institutions have to make environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations an integral part of their risk assessment, product design, and overall business strategies. The CSCP will constructively engage in a dialogue to support Sparkasse Wuppertal in advancing its sustainability agenda in ways that benefit employees, clients, and society alike.”, stated Michael Kuhndt, CSCP Executive Director.
The Sustainability Committee will meet twice a year with the Board of Management of Sparkasse Wuppertal and other employees and it will act independently.
For further information, please reach out to Michael Kuhndt.
The construction industry accounts for 40% of global energy use, 30% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, approximately 12% of water use, and nearly 40% of waste*. Green buildings can not only curb the footprint, but also be a catalyst to address major policy frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by ensuring health and wellbeing for all ages, making sustainable and affordable energy accessible to everyone, and supporting communities to live safe and resilient lives. We would like to share our experience with Rockwool – a best practice example of sustainable action in the construction sector.
As part of the European Union Horizon 2020 R2Pi project, the CSCP took a closer look at Rockwool’s ‘RockCycle’ circular business model. Rockwool, an international company headquartered in Denmark, produces mineral wool that contributes to energy-efficient building insulation which helps reduce energy demand and cut CO² emissions.
As part of the construction industry, Rockwool too, is greatly burdened by end-of-life materials due to demolition or renovation. A big share of the end-of-life materials are critically contaminated and need special care in waste management.
By using a Circular Business Model, Rockwool introduced the ‘RockCycle’ take-back program for mineral wool. It consists of co-product recovery, re-make, and resource recovery – all of which are integrated along the entire value chain. The company makes sure that any cut-off and excess material in the internal production of mineral wool feeds back into its production cycle.
The ‘RockCycle’ business model is not only a convenient and eco-friendly solution, but also an economically-advantageous solution for customers. As the Rockwool case study highlights, taking responsibility for products and materials is not merely a burden on the company side; on the contrary it can represent a profit-raising opportunity and lead to sustainable future growth.
Circular Business Innovation has the power to create a competitive advantage that is sustainable and customer-centric. In collaboration with the consortium partners of R2Pi, the CSCP further developed a set of tools and methods for the assessment of your level of circularity. Drawing on a vast circular economy expertise, the CSCP supports companies to embark on business innovation journeys that set free the circular potential for sustainable growth. If you are trying to figure out how to expand your business and become more competitive in a sustainable way, reach out to us. We are looking forward to collaborating with you!
* UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
How to turn existing behavioural science and circular economy know-how into a stepwise process that makes it easier for consumers to take up circular behaviours? Conversely, how to use consumer behaviours to inform decisions at other hallmarks of the value chain? Are you curious about these questions but you missed our online workshop “Nudging and Beyond”? Watch the recording below!
The online workshop, held in November as part of the of 2020 EU Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference: Together for a cleaner and more competitive Europe, focused on how to best close the gap between favourable attitudes and actual consumption of more sustainable products and services. Food, mobility, and housing are the most impactful areas of consumption as well as the ones characterised by less durable products and higher use intensity*. Therefore, the main question is: how can we move from attitude to action and generate actual behaviour change towards more sustainable, circular behaviours? The workshop “Nudging & Beyond: Consumers Towards Circular Behaviours” approached this question from a multi-angled perspective. In a session facilitated by Michael Kuhndt, CSCP Executive Director, an outstanding line-up of speakers discussed how to enable circular behaviours among European consumers through experiments and interventions led by policy makers, business, academia, and civil society.
Speakers and topics:
During an exchange between speakers and the participants (not part of the recording), the central question was whether the COVID pandemic has threatened sharing practices among consumers. The consensual view was that, apart from sharing home models, which are largely associated with travelling, all other sharing practices as well as the general willingness to share has either kept the same or even increased.
Reporting on the workshop during the plenary conference, Michael Kuhndt, CSCP Executive Director, emphasised two key challenges: a conceptual and a ‘scale’ one. The conceptual challenge relates to the fact that interventions to engage consumers and foster circular behaviours in Europe are still mostly based on assumptions, leading to interventions that are costly and ineffective. The “scale” challenge refers to the various successful circular economy interventions that still remain a niche. In this sense, Kuhndt underlined, “it’s crucial to normalise such initiatives and help them achieve a greater, larger impact. Ambitious policy making, such as the EU Green Deal, for example, could be a door opener to replicate and scale up such initiatives.”
CSCP’s Cristina Fedato contributed to two other sessions held during the 2020 EU Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference: “Making Textiles & Fashion Last Longer“ and „Circular Procurement“. You can watch the sessions of the conference here.
The European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform is a joint initiative by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee and it aims to accelerate the transition to circular economy. The CSCP is part of the Coordination Group of ECESP.
*European Commission Joint Research Centre
During our third and last BOOM career orientation camp for 2020, teenagers between 14-17 had the chance to engage with the topic of food in unique and inspiring ways: building geodomes for urban food growing, recycling food packaging, and cooking with wild herbs and plants. The camp, which was held in October at the Jugendakademie Walberberg, near Cologne, sparked new ideas about how to integrate sustainability into future career choices and lifestyles.
With the topic of food at the centre, the participants had the opportunity to explore new perspectives and embark on new experiences with the support of experts in the field.
A geodome, which the participants built, was a hands-on-approach on growing food in urban areas. Another creative way of approaching the topic of food was recycling food packaging. Cooking was also an indispensable part of the camp. In a ‘back-to-the-roots walk’, the participants got to explore the areas nearby the camp location as well as an organic farm, where they searched for edible wild herbs and residual crops. The handpicked ingredients were turned into delicious and nutrition-rich dishes.
BOOM provides insights into future social challenges and trends and supports teenagers and young adults in facing those with self-confidence, curiosity, and enthusiasm. The camps also offer the participants a platform to reflect on their personal skills and visions as well as discuss individual challenges and upcoming decisions in the realm of job orientation. For this purpose, special workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions were held during the course of the six-day camp.
The main goal of the BOOM camps is to mainstream an understanding of sustainability as a key aspect in the career choices of teenagers and young adults. Find out more about our previous BOOM camps on Living and Building and Everyday Consumption.
BOOM camps are a joint project of the CSCP and its partners Provadis GmbH and Sportjugend Hessen e.V and it is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
For further questions, please contact Carina Diedrich.
In an ever more globalised world, supply chains organised solely on a regional basis have shrunk considerably. About two thirds of today’s world trade is based on global value chains and supply networks. Despite their positive impact on employment rates and prosperity levels, global supply chains are also characterised by extreme social, ecological, and economic imbalances. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only aggravated and made these imbalances more palpable. The joint discussion paper by the Wuppertal Institute, the CSCP and Sustainabill “Sustainable Supply Chains: Global Cooperative Regional Economies for Prosperity and Resilience” outlines future scenarios for addressing these imbalances in long-lasting ways.
The Coronavirus crisis has disrupted complex supply chains and worsened pre-existing production and consumption challenges in the course of a very short period of time. Other crises, such as global climate change, are developing more insidiously, stretching over longer periods of time, and thus causing less pressure to counteract. Despite their different natures, such crises highlight the vulnerability of global social and economic structures and illustrate the effects of global trade on regions and people. The implementation of sustainability goals at international, national and regional levels is not only an efficient and impact-driven response to such crises, but also a guarantee for reducing related inequities. Employing a global sustainability strategy must thus be a central part of the ongoing endeavour to respond to current crises not only by fixing problems at hand but also strengthening resilience.
From a supply chain perspective, as important as the development of regional economic and environmental cycle-oriented approaches are, it does not lead to more resilience if their development is not carried out from a global and sustainable perspective. The aim should be to create humane, sustainable and transparent supply chains that are capable of ensuring a reliable supply of basic needs and services even in the events of sudden changes in framework conditions and crises.
The discussion paper “Sustainable Supply Chains: Global Cooperative Regional Economies for Prosperity and Resilience” outlines a future scenario of globally cooperative and cycle-oriented regional economies that fundamentally reduce global inequalities in opportunities and the quality of life, while at the same time protecting and preserving the environment.
The discussion paper, which is a collaborative work of the CSCP, the Wuppertal Institute and Sustainabill, is published as part of the Future Impulses (Zukunftsimpulse) series.
You can download the paper here.
For further questions, please contact Cristina Fedato.
Join us for an online workshop on Packaging in the retail sector by the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform on Monday 19 October. Michael Kuhndt, Executive Director of the CSCP will present the third session of the workshop on Design for circularity: Creating safe and circular packaging.
The workshop will liaise technical experts in retail to address the challenges and opportunities faced by retailers as regards packaging in the circular economy. Speakers will present the best practices via three different angles, answering the following question:
What are the success factors enabling and the regulatory and investment barriers hampering waste prevention, re-use and design for circularity?
The workshop is divided in three sessions:
Michael Kuhndt will share key insights from our initiative Consumer Insight Action Panel in the third session about consumer behaviour and how that can inform a holistic approach to designing packaging and making the right interventions at the right place. We look forward to your engagement in this session!
Date: 19 October 2020
Time: 14:00-16:30 CET
To register, follow the link.
For further questions, please contact Michael Kuhndt.
The second BOOM camp was a perfect space for upcycling: old bike tires were turned into belts, billboard tarps were remodelled into backpacks, and other forgotten everyday items found their way back to use. During the camp, which took place from 20 to 25 September at the Jugendakademie Walberberg near Cologne, young adults between 18 and 25 got to explore handicraft professions under the guidance of experienced craftspeople and learn more about sustainable lifestyles.
The main goal was to promote sustainability as an integral part of career and lifestyle choices. Other camp highlights included remodelling an outdoor area by using old furniture and tires, creating beeswax wraps to store and conserve food products, and a clothing swap activity to promote and foster sustainable habits.
During special workshops, the participants were invited to reflect on their personal skills and discuss their visions for the future. Additionally, they were offered one-on-one coaching sessions to address challenges and questions as well as share ideas and map out opportunities for their upcoming career decisions.
Fruitful exchanges on sustainable consumption took place both within and beyond the workshops. As part of bonding with nature, the participants explored the premises and surroundings of a nearby farm and learned more about residual crops, healthy wild herbs, and the sustainable use of natural resources.
The third BOOM camp on the topic of Food will take place on 11-16 October in Walberberg, Cologne/Bonn. During the camp, teenagers between 14 and 17 will prepare food from self-harvested ingredients, build a geodome green house and discover recycling opportunities by making new products from packaging waste. If you know a teenagers who might be interested, please spread the word – registration is still open!
BOOM (Berufsorientierung und Nachhaltigkeit mal Anders) are six-day career orientation camps for teenagers and young adults. Participants of the camps have the opportunity to explore future jobs in the fields such as “daily consumption and product design”, “energy and mobility”, “building and housing” and “food and agriculture”. The main goal of the BOOM camps is to mainstream an understanding of sustainability as a key aspect in the career choices of the next generation. Find out more about our BOOM camps – check out the BOOM website and read the participants’ impressions!