Explore Circular Stories

Browse through case stories from our many partners and learn more about circular economy, the newest publications, inspiring initiatives, and ways to take action.  

There are also stories about ongoing competitions hosted by our partners, and open calls for proposals which provides opportunities to take part in the circular economy.     

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2022 Pioneer Stories

BEYOND ENERGY: INCENTIVIZING DECARBONIZATION THROUGH THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY 

Improvements in energy efficiency and a continued focus on replacing fossil fuels with renewables have accelerated large CO2 emission reductions in recent years. However, in spite of heightened ambitions, some sectors still lag behind in decarbonization due to the need for costly rebuilds and retrofits, economic reasons, and more. Circular economy solutions support these sectors toward decarbonization of electricity generation and use to meet net-zero targets. The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, along with Enel, has outlined these ideas and more in a paper, concluding that circular initiatives implemented through public policy frameworks should be a key part of decarbonization.

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ARUP LAUNCH: CIRCULAR BUILDINGS DESIGN TOOLKIT

As the demand for climate action is shifting the real estate industry, what does the future of building design look like? Responsible for almost 50% of the consumption of raw materials, and around 40% of global CO2 emissions, the built environment must become more sustainable. We need a circular economy to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature to help tackle climate change. In Arup’s Circular Buildings Design Toolkit, our experts share their vision for the future of building design and operations, highlighting the key roles that circular economy principles offer.

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 TRANSITIONING TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY: OPPORTUNITIES IN NORTH AMERICA

In a recent report, Enel and Arup have shared perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for the circular transition in North America through analysis, examples and case studies. In addition to outlining the policy landscape within the U.S. and Canada, the report maps a path forward from the twin challenges of the pandemic and the climate crisis. Special emphasis is put on the often-neglected regeneration component of the circular economy and the need for embracing an inclusive circular model to ensure a just energy transition that left no one behind.  

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ENEL AND CIRCULAR CITIES: IMPACTS ON DECARBONIZATION AND BEYOND

Cities house over half of the world’s population and generate over 80% of global economic output. They also produce 50% of the world’s waste and 70% of global emissions, accounting for 60% of all resource consumption. Enel, an energy firm, has evaluated the impact of circular principles for cities in three key urban sectors: mobility, the built environment and energy systems. Along with Arup, a professional services firm working across all aspects of the built environment, they have developed the Circular City Index to support municipalities’ transition to a circular economy. 

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TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE SOLAR ENERGY WITH THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Pioneer partners Arup and Enel have joint efforts to address the underlying potential of dual use solar combined with circular economy principles to optimize overall land productivity and support the environment, the economy, land owners and local communities. This report examines how dual use solar and low impact technology deployment can achieve improved sustainability and circularity outcomes. The results shows an opportunity for industries to advance and meet business goals while strengthening the environment and local communities.

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NORDIC INNOVATION AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

In the vision of Nordic prime ministers, the Nordic region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world in 2030. Nordic Innovation is aiming the make that vision a reality and promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and competitiveness within Nordic businesses. One of their products is a Circular Economy playbook. Companies can use this guide to deliver clear outcomes within circularity through technology and digitalization. This playbook hopes to show companies how useful understanding the circular economy is and underscores that inefficiency in the linear value chain can be transformed into business value. This is a lesson businesses worldwide need to learn and take action through meaningful restructuring. 

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2022 Partner Stories

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR CIRCULARITY & THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Today’s linear economic model is reaching a tipping point. Demand is increasing alongside the growing global population and expanding middle class. At the same time, the natural and social capital costs of non-renewable resource extraction and disposal impact the cost of doing business. Companies must get into a circular mindset to address this. The global, macroeconomic opportunities associated with the circular economy have come into focus over the last decade. According to the World Economic Forum, studies show that the circular economy presents a $4.5 trillion USD opportunity, may boost GDP by 1.1%, create more jobs and make the economy more resilient. These findings have fueled circular economy momentum globally. Building off of these points, SustainabilityX  Magazine has published eight business cases for the circular economy. 

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HOW SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURING IS THE FUTURE 

What exactly is sustainable manufacturing? According to The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing (MERA), it is the the standardized process of producing high-quality goods – a  second time – by reusing materials and conserving embodied energy in existing products. Going forward, sustainable manufacturing will play a more vital role in the circular economy.  No matter the industry, for generations to come, all manufacturing will be driven to reuse as  much as possible. Today, as we drive towards a circular economy, remanufacturing and similar forms of sustainable manufacturing are already yielding products that are like new, but better. On April 22, Earth Day, MERA celebrated the occasion with a "Circular Drive" to save outdated technology from going into landfills by collecting and donating it to Human-I-T - a non-profit organization that #remanufactures the items and makes them available to members of the community in need. 

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FOSSIL FUEL FREE STEEL FROM SWEDEN

Fossil fuel free steel, anyone? The steel industry generates between 7% and 9% of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuels. But the world’s first zero-carbon process is coming true in Sweden, and commercial-scale production will be up and running in 2026. The HYBRIT project is a unique partnership between steel producer SSAB, iron ore mining company LKAB and energy provider Vattenfall, delivering zero-carbon steel for bridges to braces and cars to construction. Through the newly launched “Green Transition Initiative”, the Swedish Government aims to contribute to CO2 reduction by providing green solutions like fossil free steel to the US market. Join Sweden in finding new ways forward!

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2022 DEZEEN AWARDS 

Working in the design industry? Consider entering the Dezeen Awards, which identifies the world's best architecture, interiors and design, as well as the studios and the individual architects and designers producing the most outstanding work. Organized by Dezeen, the world's most popular and influential architecture and design website, Dezeen Awards is the benchmark for international design excellence and the ultimate accolade for architects and designers everywhere. The awards are judged by a panel consisting of leading figures from the architecture and design world. Every shortlisted and winning entry will be published on Dezeen and shared via their huge social media and newsletter audiences, bringing significant recognition to successful entrants.

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NYCXDESIGN FESTIVAL

NYCxDESIGN’s internationally renowned Annual Design Festival, established in 2013, showcases the immense talent and diversity of the city’s designers, makers, and manufacturers, along with cutting-edge design businesses and districts, and world-class cultural and academic design institutions. The Festival attracts 300,000+ national and international visitors to the city, generating significant economic activity across the boroughs with hundreds of events about design and innovation, creativity, culture, inclusivity, sustainability, and resiliency. This year, the Festival includes two circular events: the Danish Circular Design Pop-up and an circular furniture event led by Sabai Design, Cambium Carbon, and Floorfound, both facilitated by Circular City Week,

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BARNARD MEASURES SCOPE 3 EMISSIONS

As Barnard College defines a pathway to net zero emissions, they are paying particular attention to Scope 3 emissions and building a circular campus framework to address them. Measuring and reporting Scope 3 emissions is notoriously difficult, but Scope 3 behaviors represent at least 57% of Barnard’s total footprint. The college is developing a spend-based tool to measure Barnard's Scope 3 breakdown, and responding through principles of circularity. This is crucial work because the behaviors associated with Scope 3 touch every aspect of the daily lives of our community.

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CIRCULAR PUBLIC PROCUREMENT: A FRAMEWORK FOR CITIES 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently published a framework focusing on the powerful tool that city governments can use to shape the transition towards a circular economy - circular public procurement, which accounts for 15-20% of global GDP. City governments have an important role in shaping local circular economies by applying circular economy principles and criteria to purchase products and services such as buildings, furniture, food, and packaging. This guide helps cities to adopt a more circular approach to public procurement that takes into consideration the complexity and realities of each city. 

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CIRCULENTS: THE NEW CONSUMERS

In 2020, the Swedish Association for Responsible Consumption launched the word “circulent.” To be sustainable consumers is not enough, we must become circulents! A circulent considers need and function before want and considers themselves a user and not an owner of an item. The use of an item is optimized during its lifetime and primary consumer behavior is to borrow, exchange, rent, repair and reuse. The possibility of future reconsumption is kept in mind for new purchases. To learn more, consider the Association's new online course "Circulents- the new consumers" (English) which will dive into sustainable consumption and circular lifestyles. The course takes place between March 28th and May 22nd and covers four themes: Sustainable and Circular Lifestyles, Entrepreneurship--Redesigning Business, Political Advocacy, and Systems Thinking

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DANISH KNOWLEDGE SECTOR LAUNCHES CIRCULAR COMMUNITY  

More and more companies in the Danish construction industry are working with circular solutions, but there are still many challenges that must be answered. Answers can only be found if all players bring their knowledge to the table and share experiences across the value chain. Therefore, VCØB - The Knowledge Center for Circular Economy in Construction - has launched VCØB Circular Community, where all types of companies, organizations, and institutions working in or with the construction sector can contribute to finding solutions and together expand the market for the circular economy.

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CIRCULARITY 22

It’s time for transformative change — and the circular economy is key to a just, resilient and prosperous world. To meet this critical moment, leaders are embracing circular principles to spur innovation, confront climate change, respond to shifting customer demand and collaborate across the value chain. As the leading convening of professionals building the circular economy, Circularity 22 (May 17-19, Atlanta, GA) offers thought-provoking keynotes, informative breakouts, a solutions-oriented expo and engaging networking opportunities. Join the growing community of visionaries to move beyond individual action, catalyze systems change and accelerate the circular economy.

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A THRILLING CARBONTECH OPPORTUNITY

The Urban Future Lab is hosting an exciting program that activates the potential of creative thinking within the cleantech industry—the Carbon to Value (C2V) Initiative. C2V is unlocking a new carbontech economy, bringing innovative solutions to scale as rapidly as possible through the creation of a robust, powerful, and collaborative new ecosystem. Due to the build-up over time of excessive, long-lived carbon emissions, commercializing Carbontech—technologies that capture and convert carbon dioxide (CO₂) into valuable end products or services— is now necessary to meet global climate goals. Startups selected to participate in Year 2 of the three-year Initiative have the opportunity to work closely with Year 2 Cohort Champion Fluor, a leading global engineering, procurement and construction company, among a myriad of other benefits. Interested startups should apply by April 29th.

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HOW TO TRANSFORM THE FURNITURE INDUSTRY

“Our design choices are responsible for 80% of the environmental impact of products, systems, and services.” With this powerful quote in mind, environmentally conscious consumers and designers can look to mebl, a thought leader committed to making the circular furniture industry more thoughtful and sustainable, on how to design circular furniture. One such method is choosing safe and circular materials, like the algae pictured below. Experimentation in materials, commitment to product longevity, and, the shift from products to services are all instances of how to make lasting change among furniture brands. It’s truly inspiring to learn about. 

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NORDIC DESIGN PRINCIPLES APPLIED TO NEW YORK REAL ESTATE

NYSERDA's Empire Building Challenge, a $50 million public-private investment, enabled a comprehensive retrofit of 345 Hudson Street by applying a circular system approach to heating and cooling through the power of thermal networking, which is an Nordic innovative approach by which heating and cooling is shared between tenants throughout the building and eventually between neighboring buildings, developed by Hines and supported by Swedish firm URBS. To solve the climate crisis, these type of low carbon retrofits for tall buildings is essential. On Feb 3, Building Energy Exchange and NYSERDA will launch the High Rise, Low Carbon Series, focusing on the Empire Building Challenge and showcasing projects by 4 partners.

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SALON DE LA CIRCULARITE: A CIRCULAR SANCTUARY 

What does the circular economy mean for the furniture industry? Salon de la Circularité, a custom vignette of furniture for High Point Market’s Sustainability Stories display, designed by Laurence Carr, features brands known for their circular practices and certified healthy materials, including Phillips Collection, Libeco, Lenzing, and Nature's Legacy. These brands are committed to transparency through their affiliations and accreditations, like being part of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, FSC, OEKO-TEX, SAC, C2C, among others. Industry officials and customers alike can trust that these brands are thorough and committed, rather than “greenwashing” because it’s lucrative and trendy. Beyond the vignette’s admirable use of materials, it is a truly luxurious and special design to behold.

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A CIRCULAR USE OF FISH SKINS - MORE VALUABLE THAN THE FISH!

For as long as Icelanders have been fishing, fish skins have been a byproduct of little value. Kerecis, a company in Iceland's Westfjords region, is transforming discarded cod skins into a valuable medical device to heal human wounds. When grafted onto damaged human tissue, the fish skin recruits the body's own cells, supporting its own ability to regenerate. The cod skins offer several advantages over many traditional wound treatments. Because there is no risk of a viral disease transfer from Atlantic cod to people, the fish skin needs only mild processing for medical use and maintains its natural structure and elements, including its Omega3 fatty acids. The fish skin is sustainably sourced, cost-efficient to produce, and free of the religious and cultural barriers associated with other skin graft products. 
 

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MAKING PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT CIRCULAR 

MPB, the world’s largest online platform for used photography and videography equipment, is transforming the way that people buy, sell and trade in photo and video equipment. They have had a continual commitment to making equipment more accessible and affordable—and notably, sustainable. By recirculating more than 300,000 items of used equipment every year, MPB extends the life and creative potential of photo and video equipment for creators around the world, and lower the financial cost for the next user compared to buying a new camera. More industries could learn from MPB’s platform as the global transition to the circular economy takes place. It’s good for business and the planet!

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NORDIC DESIGN & INNOVATION PROGRAM 2022 

Calling all Nordic design and innovation companies! Nordic Innovation House New York is excited to be launching the Nordic Design & Innovation 2022 Program. Nordic Design has long had outsized influence in the United States, especially in New York City. As a complement to New York Design Week (May 10-20, 2022), their 3-day program is structured to provide Nordic Design companies with an opportunity to interact and learn from the NY Design & Tech Ecosystem, meet individuals and organizations involved with growing Design in the US, accelerate doing business in the US market, and connect with potential customers. The program ends with a Nordic Design Forum and Showcase where industry experts and press will be in attendance to hear from and speak with participating companies.

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PYXERA GLOBAL CIRCULAR ENGAGEMENT 

PYXERA Global convenes, designs and co-creates systemic circular economy projects at scale. In collaboration with Circular City Coalition members Metabolic, First Mile, Enel North America and Rheaply, PYXERA Global’s common theory of change enables historically marginalized communities to take ownership of upstream & regenerative circular businesses. PYXERA Global’s circular engagements include Circular City Design (Ex. City of Cleveland & Cambridge, Mass), Corporate Circular Advisory Services (Ex. FedEx & Enel North America) and Zero Waste Communities and Material Reverse Logistic Hubs (US–Alaska, Montana, & Louisiana; INT- Ghana). PYXERA's report Paradigm Shift covers the most promising solutions on the horizon, from some of the most prominent voices leading the transition, through a series of case studies from around the world.

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THE CATHERINE COMMONS DECONSTRUCTION PROJECT

 The Catherine Commons Deconstruction Project is a collaborative effort led by the Circular Construction Lab, Finger Lakes ReUse, and Trade Design Build to deconstruct a 1910 residence in Ithaca, NY. It aims to understand the circular potentials of the local built environment for material reuse and the reactivation of embodied values, and works towards the creation of green jobs and new business models in construction. The case study documents quantities and qualities of materials, the time and labor required, and the total cost – including environmental and social costs. The data will provide insights into barriers and benefits of implementing deconstruction at scale.

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HOW CIRCULARITY CAN PROTECT OUR OCEAN FROM PLASTIC POLLUTION 

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a trend expected to grow in the coming decades. Ocean Conservancy believes that the interconnectedness of urban living provides a unique opportunity to reimagine our infrastructure in a way that protects the ocean and those that rely on it. That’s why Ocean Conservancy and their partners are working to address the ocean plastics crisis through city circularity. Ocean Conservancy’s experts put together this toolkit with the aim of helping empower communities to build clean, healthy cities for clean, healthy seas.

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 ENABLERS & BARRIERS OF ACCELERATING THE REPAIR MOVEMENT 

In August 2021, the NY Chapter of the Circular Economy Club hosted a panel and Q&A on how to make repair an important part of our economic system. One action step towards accelerating a circular economy is to engage stakeholders in the repair of existing materials and products and support legislation that requires OEMs to provide access to repair manuals and spare parts. This panel featured three repair experts and shed light on the systemic barriers and policy enablers of the repair movement.

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HOW SOFTWARE WILL BE CRUCIAL TO CIRCULARITY

As a sustainable business leader for decades, SAP has developed innovative software products for thousands of businesses worldwide. They also have a clear plan to address the circular economy embedded in their array of services. To reach a zero waste world, they have developed several tenets companies can adopt in reducing their carbon footprint as well as demonstrating transparency and a commitment to sustainability. These include: designing products sustainably, eliminating waste, and building a sustainable supply chain. Within their software, SAP has an arsenal of services to be in line with these tenets, like tools to monitor a company’s supply chain, returnable packaging systems management, and products that calculate environmental regulation and extender producer responsibility (EPR) obligations. 

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THE DANISH AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECTOR STEPS UP REGARDING CIRCULARITY 

With the aim of reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and meeting the increasing demand for greener solutions, the Danish agriculture and food industry has taken various steps across the value chain towards a sustainable path and a more circular economy. Circular innovation has provided various answers to the question of how we reduce food loss and waste in a sustainable way. The industry is working hard to find solutions that can utilize or recirculate raw materials in the best way, so side manufacturing streams can be utilized and packaging is reused. Innovative solutions with a circular mindset are on the rise and provide businesses and consumers all over the world with the opportunities to take part in responsible food consumption and production. 

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THE 2022 CLEANTECH OPEN ACCELERATOR

Are you involved with a cleantech startup that could use support from a major global thought leader within the energy and environmental innovation sphere? Cleantech Open is the world's largest cleantech accelerator, providing entrepreneurs and innovators the training and resources they need to launch and grow successful cleantech businesses. The mission is to find, fund, and foster entrepreneurs with ideas to solve our greatest environmental and energy challenges.  Every year, 100-150 companies in the US are part of the program which includes customer discovery, extensive mentoring, investor meetings, startup-corporate matching, and showcasing at both the regional and national levels.  Startups can register and apply to join the one-of-a-kind ecosystem until April 17, 2022 and catch an early bird discount by applying before February 28.

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A NICHE BODY OF KNOWLEDGE

The Circular Economy Alliance aims at paving the way towards a sustainable future with the vision to be at the epicenter of credible, research-driven circular economy knowledge development.  An array of stakeholders collaborate for the proliferation and distribution of industry-specific knowledge, enabling the reskilling and upskilling of people, making them agents of change for a successful transition to a circular economy. The Alliance offers certificates that provide professionals and organizations with comprehensive, accredited, reliable, actionable skills. This innovative body of knowledge is a unique and distinctive approach to provoke imperative collective action towards the circular economy agenda, effectively contributing to the high-level goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

 

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HOW THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY KEEPS YOUR SOFA OUT OF THE LANDFILL

12.1 million tons of furniture and furnishing waste is produced by the United States every year. This familiar and distressing cycle is the current linear economy in action: a system of take-make-use-waste that dominates consumption patterns at home and across the globe. In today’s world of abundant options and free delivery, it is easy to save money on a cheap sofa without thinking about its short lifespan. A Circular City Week platform partner, mebl, explains the environmental impact of a sofa as part of a new series of articles on furniture and circularity. Mebl outlined several solutions to this waste: “designing out waste,” meaning making use of leftover materials and designing long lasting pieces, “designing out pollution,” in furniture manufacturing, and finally, making furniture out of biodegradable materials.

 

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INNOVATING SUSTAINABILITY, IMPACT AND CIRCULARITY AT GCNYC

Glasgow Caledonian New York College is New York City’s Graduate School for the Common Good. With distinctive master’s programs in sustainable fashion and business for social impact, GCNYC produces leaders who transform research into practical action to support a circular economy. Nancy Rhodes (class of 2020) is bringing together her master’s research, her passion for the circular economy, and her years of experience in fashion industry leadership to build her company, alternew, an innovative, tech-enabled on-demand alterations service, extending the life of garments and empowering people to look their best.

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HOW THE BARNARD SALE REDUCED WASTE ON CAMPUS

Rheaply, an asset exchange manager, strives to build technology that can power the circular economy. Using inventory tracking software, Rheaply allows organizations to easily facilitate the exchange of used objects. At the end of August 2021, a delegation of Team Rheaply convened in New York City for the Barnard Green Sale. Barnard College leadership had been in discussion with Rheaply for some time, learning how to adopt the resource exchange system and utilize it to help students find things they need for their dorms at a low price. The new Barnard Green Sale was a success: the Rheaply system has allowed students to reuse and recirculate objects throughout the year.

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AN INNOVATION IN CIRCULAR RESEARCH AND EDUCATION 

The Circular Economy Research Center leveraging its research capacity, acknowledged the strong gap between the skills required for the transition to the circular economy & the current available skills. They then embarked on an educational journey to enhance the collective efforts to hedge this gap. In this respect and in line with Circular Economy Alliance's proclamations & commitments in the domain of education, Circular Economy Alliance emerged with the goal of providing research driven skills & education on multiple levels & domains of Circular Economy with the aim of educating the existing workforce and facilitate the efforts required for the transition. Without doubt, this collaboration will yield rich knowledge sharing and cutting edge research applications.

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THE ENERGY, CLIMATE JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY LAB

In the spring of 2020, NYUSPS Center for Global Affairs launched the Energy, Climate Justice and Sustainability Lab.  The lab is involved in research and collaboration, and works with Ramboll, Brookhaven National Lab and others.  Predating the launch of the lab, CGA began a fantastic partnership and collaboration with Ramboll where every semester a group of graduate students work on a specific sustainability-circular economy project.  Projects to date include examining cycling in NYC, focusing on infrastructure and policy, Local Law 97 in the NYC building space, energy use and data centers, and this semester, students are examining the EU Taxonomy for real estate and financial institutions. 

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THE NSF CONVERGENCE ACCELERATOR 

Launched in 2019, the National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator builds upon basic research and discovery to accelerate solutions toward societal impact. The goals of the NSF Convergence Accelerator are to encourage use-inspired convergence research in areas of national importance and societal challenges, and to initiate convergence team-building capacity around exploratory, potentially high-risk proposals addressing selected convergent research topics. Track topics this year include enhancing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, Sustainable Materials for Global Challenges, and Food and Nutrition Security. Circular innovators should apply for the Sustainable Materials and showcase end-use and full-life cycle considerations for their environmentally- and economically-sustainable materials and products.

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 CIRCULAR DESIGN @ NYU MAKERSPACE

This plastic shredder is an endeavor started by NYU MakerSpace staff to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic waste by breaking down failed 3D prints into small flakes, which are then melted into usable filament. In Fall 2019 alone, more than 15 pounds of scrap PLA was collected. Being awarded the Green Grant from the NYU Office of Sustainability provided funding to hold workshops and trainings centered around the environment, hire sustainability ambassadors to build the plastic shredder, and share their creation at the Construct3D conference, where they won "Crowd Favorite" award! 

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REDESIGN WEEK 2022

Did you know that New Yorkers discard a stunning 950 tons of furniture per day? That’s 346,750 tons per year, or equivalent to discarding 1,541 Statues of Liberty annually! Mebl is sharing ways to fix this alarming situation through ReDesign Week 2022! Three virtual events (“Equity Can’t Be an Add-On,” “Cool Furniture, Happier Planet, Smart Business,” and “Alternatives to the Curb”) will explore creative solutions to advancing sustainability and decreasing waste in furniture and design. Above all, these thought-provoking webinars will take a deep dive into reimagining New Yorkers' love affair with furniture, renovation and everything we use to furnish our living and work spaces.

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BIODESIGN CHALLENGE'S NEW BOOK

Biodesign Challenge is an educational program and competition that encourages student learning at the intersection of art, design, and biotechnology. They partner students with expert mentors, creating projects that reimagine more equitable and sustainable medicine, food, energy, fashion, materials, architecture, and more. Since 2015, Biodesign Challenge has worked with thousands of alumni whose projects have gone on to become startup companies, exhibit in galleries, and show at design festivals. Their first book, Grow the Future: Visions of Biodesign, is a retrospective of selected works and ideas that are influencing the emerging field of biodesign. In their own words, pioneers and BDC alumni explore current and future applications of biotechnology and its role in shaping people’s identities, cultures, and relationships with the living environment

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MAKING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY MAINSTREAM 

During the last decade, the Danish building industry has established a solid knowledge and innovation base within circular economy. However, this has largely been achieved through pilot projects, and the built environment still has a long way to go to become circular. So how does the sector organize itself to ensure a circular economy transition from pilot projects to mainstream? At a string of workshops and events in 2022, BLOXHUB sets out to investigate ideas and solutions to this challenge. The first workshop was made in collaboration with Madaster, Enemærke & Petersen, and Frame. 

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HOW TO BE AN INNOVATIVE RECYCLING FACILITY

Processing 2000 tons of metal, paper and plastic daily and more than a billion pounds of material a year is a challenge Cooper Recycling rises to handily while being located in one of the most populated cities in the world, New York. Luckily, they recently had the opportunity to move a half-mile way to a larger site. This has allowed the company to work with larger and more sophisticated processing equipment, and further bolster their status as the first facility in the city to get certification from the RCI program. They also have LEED reporting services. With a primary goal of maximizing recovery of incoming material, Cooper Recycling has demonstrated an admirable commitment to zero waste and circularity.

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A CALL TO ACTION FOR THE BUILDING INDUSTRY

The building industry has established a solid knowledge base within circular construction when it comes to design, materials, and documentation. However, these achievements have largely been obtained through pilot projects. BLOXHUB believes that partnerships can solve complex challenges in order to make cities sustainable. BLOXHUB's intention is to create solutions that can support the movement from a pilot to a mainstream idea into an irresistible circular society. As part of a global workshop series with the mission to develop a roadmap for this issue, the next destination is New York, where professionals from the US building industry can bring their own challenges to the table and meet partners to move circular ideas forward.

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CIRCULAR AMBITIONS & PROJECTS FROM THE CITY OF BRUSSELS

The EU has set the goal for a circular economy by 2050. Belgium is one of the top leaders in this shift, with Brussels as a key force in the push towards a more circular EU economy. Science, technology, and innovation will be crucial in this transition to a circular economy. Belgium is working with the United Nations Environment Program to expedite the transition to a circular economy on a global scale. Brussels has a well-defined circular economy vision. In recent years, many Brussels-based companies have started using circularity as their central vision to grow their company. In addition, there is also an incredible increase of start-ups in the circularity field. These companies get a lot of support from the Brussels government and accelerators, since it is in everyone’s interest to help them grow. 

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THE FIRST SCALABLE, CIRCULAR, AND FARM-TO-TABLE RESTAURANT MODEL IN NYC

SCEN is the first circular and farm-to-table fast-casual concept of its kind that recently opened its doors in New York City. In collaboration with the Total Resource Use and Efficiency program (TRUE), backed by the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), SCEN is set to become the only certified zero-waste restaurant in the world. A TRUE-certified project’s goal is to divert all solid waste from the landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) and the environment. The mission of SCEN is to create a circular food supply chain for cities of the future and make nutritional science available for everyone, according to the founder of SCEN, Maximilian Koenig. This commitment towards healthy, accessible food and a transparent waste process is truly the change we need to see in our current linear waste model.

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ARE WE GOING TO BUILD HOUSES WITH REUSABLE BUILDING BLOCKS? 

A collapsible block that can be transported flat-packed, be built into a wall and be torn down and reused elsewhere. Does this sound like a fantasy of the construction industry to you? It’s not! The startup REXCON's goal is to reduce the CO2-footprint of the building sector - and they are already on their way there with the invention of the building module ReBLOCK. The ReBLOCK makes it possible to reuse building materials for houses again, and again and again. REXCON took part in the C-VoUCHER project in which the Danish cluster for advanced production MADE was a partner. Here REXCON got support developing the ReBLOCK system. Apart from minimizing the transport, REXCON aims to make ReBLOCKs circular using a take-back system. Or in other words, REXCON aims for a return system for used ReBLOCKs instead of these ending up as garbage. This is commitment to circularity in action. 

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reCYCLING ACROSS NEW YORK: RECYCLING EDUCATION ON A BIKE

It’s no secret that recycling rights can be a challenge. It stems in large part from the fact that different towns, cities, and counties accept different materials in their local recycling programs. But Sims Municipal Recycling, which operates the largest curbside recycling program in the United States and services the City of New York, is on a mission to bring awareness on how to combat this problem. When their recycling educator embarked on a 500 mile bicycle tour across NY State, she wanted to make sure that she was recycling correctly along the way. So she used the website RecycleRightNY.org to lookup local recycling programs, all while documenting and sharing her journey, giving out useful recycling tips, and teaching audiences how to recycle right throughout the great state of New York. Using a platform like Recycle Right NY sounds like something we can all do in the fight to limit waste and increase circularity.

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