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Opportunities in buildings, mobility, and products:
Planning in cities: In cities that embed circular economy principles, there is greater proximity between where people live, work, and play. The air gets cleaner as vehicles switch to zero-emission engines and congestion reduces as shared transit increases. More people walk and cycle to work, boosting health and interactions with local businesses and communities. Valuable land previously dedicated to roads and car parks is freed up for green spaces, commerce, offices, houses, and recreation. The layout and design of cities also changes the way materials and products move around them. Instead of throwing materials ‘away’ to landfill or incineration, a new distributed system of resource management, nutrient flows, and reverse logistics makes the return, sorting, and reuse of products possible. Materials stay in use.
Designing in cities: In parallel to the urban plan, circular economy principles transform the design of elements within cities. Infrastructure, vehicles, buildings, and products are designed to be a combination of durable, adaptable, modular, and easy to maintain and repurpose. Nature inspires design. Materials are non-harmful, locally sourced - and from renewable feedstocks where appropriate, and can be composted, recycled, and reused. Renewable energy powers cities.
Making in cities: Buildings, vehicles, and products are assembled using techniques that design out waste. Local ingenuity and skill levels increase as focus is put on decentralised, distributed production within cities. Through digital material banks, the composition of buildings, vehicles, and products is known, enabling their repair and reuse. Products and parts are created on-demand and on-site, transforming construction methods and storage needs.
Accessing in cities: People gain access to the things they need - be it space, products or transport - in new ways. This can be through sharing rather than owning, which can connect people to their neighbours and communities, or through product-as-a-service contracts. Modular designs allow for the reconfiguration of buildings and vehicles as needs change.
Operating and maintaining in cities: Products are no longer used just once. People repair and refurbish their products. These activities occur at the individual, community, and commercial level. Vehicles and infrastructure, from roads to street lights, are operated and maintained so that materials, energy, and water are used effectively and can be reused and recycled. Buildings are refurbished, improving how they are used and operated. New possibilities and jobs emerge. Cities that embed circular economy principles become more thriving, liveable, and resilient.