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As part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ongoing research on the circular economy, this paper expands our understanding of the model in the urban context.
This paper outlines some of the challenges cities are facing in today’s linear economy, explores the alternative of a ‘circular city’, and collates our research to date on the benefits of a circular economy for cities. Finally, it outlines outstanding questions on the topic, suggesting possible avenues of research for the future.
In the coming decades, cities will be increasingly important as even greater rates of urbanisation are expected, and significant infrastructure investments and developments will be made. Cities could be uniquely positioned to drive a global transition towards a circular economy, with their high concentration of resources, capital, data, and talent over a small geographic territory, and could greatly benefit from the outcomes of such a transition.
In addition to the Foundation's paper 'Cities in the circular economy: An initial exploration' which you may download below, a separate paper Cities in the circular economy: The role of digital technology, written in collaboration with Global Partner, Google, explores the crucial role technology plays in transitioning towards a circular economy in cities.