Explore Circular Stories

Browse through case stories from our 2020 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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2020 Stories

BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL - CAN COVID-19 RECOVERY BE ALIGNED WITH PLANETARY NEEDDS?

Oliver Dudok van Heel from Freshfields explored in a blog how COVID-19 has altered our relationship with our planet, what this could mean for a postcorona world and how this will affect business. The COVID-19 crisis has helped us understand the symbiotic relationship we have with our planet and how human action and wellbeing is inextricably linked to the natural environment on a number of levels. 

FROM PRINCIPLES TO PRACTICES: REALIZING THE VALUE OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY IN REAL ESTATE

Making an investment case is vital to the adoption of circular economy principles, helping the built environment sector tackle its environmental footprint and create better places for people to live and work. What tangible changes could real estate investors and businesses make to tap into these benefits? These are core questions that Arup and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation addressed in the newest publication. 

LEARNING FROM CONSUMERS - HOW SHIFTING DEMANDS ARE SHAPING COMPANIES’ CIRCULAR ECONOMY TRANSITION

There are many ways in which companies can apply circular economy principles to increase profitability. All of this will be in vain, however, if companies cannot bring consumers with them as they transition. ING's latest circular economy research, a global study of 15,000 consumers, reveals that 83 percent believe their consumer choices can have a positive impact on addressing global environmental challenges. The research also provides fresh insight into three industries: fashion, food, and electronics. The findings highlight where consumers are already engaging in circular activities, their appetite for new product and service models, and how these shifting preferences will change the way that businesses operate and generate revenues in the future.

NEW YORK CIRCULAR CITY INITIATIVE

“Imagine a New York City where no waste is sent to landfill, environmental pollution is minimized, and thousands of good jobs are created through the intelligent re-use of products and raw materials”, asks Oliver Dudok van Heel, Head of Client Sustainability for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Oliver and his team at Freshfields have convened thought leaders from city agencies, businesses, financial institutions, universities and think tanks to identify key levers of change to aid New York City transition to a Circular Economy. Recommendations and next action steps will be presented during Circular City Week. This initiative is part of Freshfields overall mission of collaborating with clients to provide strategic advice to enable them to achieve a sustainable future for themselves and the communities in which they operate.

A BUSLOAD OF FASHION PEOPLE GO TO A LANDFILL

Slow Factory is an organization focused on environmental justice and human rights via educational programs, cultural events, and special projects. In partnership with Adidas, our Landfills as Museums project encourages students and designers to adopt a waste-led design approach that considers the end of life of materials at the beginning in order to reduce the burden placed on the globe's landfills caused by overconsumption and waste.

 

WASTE WISE CITIES

In 2018, UN-Habitat launched the Waste Wise Cities Campaign, a call to action for municipalities to enhance solid waste management and resource efficiency. It also outlines the need for the development of partnerships across all sectors of society, formal and informal, governments and NGOs, private and public sectors. Read more about this program and the nexus between women and waste in UN-Habitat's newsletter.

URBAN MINING AND CIRCULAR CONSTRUCTION

Construction is critical to the healthy functioning of our economy. Yet, it is also one of the planet’s largest consuming sectors of energy and raw materials. How can we continue to build while minimizing negative impacts on the environment? The answer lies in urban mining and circular construction – but what is it and how does it help cities and developers? Read more for Metabolic's explanation.
 

CIRCULARITY IN 2020

While the concept of a circular economy has made its way into the public consciousness; unfortunately, as of 2018, circularity globally is only at 9%. What do we need to ensure that Circularity delivers on its potential in 2020 and beyond? This question and more are posed by Gina Wu Lee, Founder of Upcycler and the author of Closing the Material Loop-How Innovators from the Public and Private Sector are Creating Value from Waste and The State of the Circular Economy in America. The Upcyclers Network was founded to challenge our reliance on natural resource extraction and build a sustainable economy where waste is simply a resource out of place.

CIRCULARITY CITIES IN DENMARK

The Circularity City project has gathered municipalities and private sector frontrunners in Denmark to display how circular cities can be built. From 2017 to 2020, the focus has been to design new innovative, circular solutions in order to create a more positive environmental footprint in the built environment. This has been carried out through value-chain collaboration and development projects for both municipalities and corporations – all with the shared vision of establishing new circular solutions and scaling them, nationally and globally. The findings of this report will also be presented at Circular City Week New York, but you can already now access the findings.

GREENTOWN LABS CIRCULARITY CHALLENGE

The #CircularityChallenge brought together startups and corporates with the mission of advancing groundbreaking technologies to enable a circular economy. The accelerator, run by Greentown Labs and chemicals leader BASF, connected entrepreneurs with the necessary mentors, team members, and business and technical resources to fast-track their technologies. The accelerator participants are disrupting the recycling industry and plastics and energy storage value chains. Hear from the startups and corporates at the Feb. 6 Final Showcase!

MEASURING CIRCULARITY FOR BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has just launched Circulytics - the most comprehensive, circularity measurement tool available in the world. Circulytics is for any organisation that wants to accurately measure the full extent of their circularity with unprecedented clarity. Using company-level data, with applied insights and analysis from the Foundation's Data and Metrics team, Circulytics highlights and inspires opportunities for innovation, while allowing companies to track their progress. Now a freely available resource, Circulytics is a crucial tool for every organisation that wants to accelerate the adoption of circular economy practices.

ReFASHION WEEK 2020

To raise awareness about textile waste and provide fashionable solutions, The New York City Department of Sanitation and its nonprofit partner, The Foundation for New York’s Strongest, team up to host the second annual ReFashion Week from February 22nd to the 28th. The week of events kicks off with an opening reception and panel featuring sustainable fashion experts and closes with an all-out fashion show highlighting thrift stylists and upcycle designers. 

WHERE SHOULD OUR CLOTHES GO WHEN WE'RE DONE WITH THEM?

Every year, New Yorkers send 200 million pounds of clothing to landfill – that’s the equivalent of over 440 Statues of Liberty – but steps are being taken to change that. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation joined forces with NYC's Department of Sanitation and Economic Development Corporation for the Make Fashion Circular #WearNext campaign that united NYC with leading brands, collectors, recyclers, and resale companies, behind a common goal to divert clothes away from landfill. By swapping, selling, donating or recycling clothing, it’s possible to prevent clothing from ever becoming waste.

DESIGN FRONTIERS FOR THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

Parsons Healthy Materials Lab held its first large symposium, Material Health: Design Frontiers for the Built Environment in mid-November. Speakers from seemingly divergent perspectives presented their cutting edge work and pivotal discussions between disciplines emerged, making it very clear that collaboration across disciplines is essential for making radical change for a healthier future. Stay up to date with Healthy Materials Lab events and one of a kind online education opportunities.

NEWS FROM CIRCULAR ECONOMY RESEARCH CENTER IN PARIS 

Circular Economy Research Center (CERC) has been established to lead and support novel research initiatives and to design new multidisciplinary business models which can support the transformation process from a linear to a circular economy. Conscious of this transformational context which can lead to a more sustainable future, Ecole des Ponts Business School is engaged in the domain of Circular Economy and promotes the responsible and cyclical use of resources. Stay updated on news from leading circular research  with these four CERC projects: Circular Economy and the Internet of ThingsIdeal-CitiesSmartShip, and Bio-Phoenix

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URBAN-X: WHAT'S OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Americans create 70 pounds of apparel waste per person each year. And those 23 billion pounds of waste are costing cities hundreds of millions of dollars. Thrilling, a platform for second-hand and vintage boutiques, plans to reduce the environmental impact of clothing by 75 percent. Read more about how the URBAN-X alum is making an impact in the circular economy. 

EXPLORE A BLUECITY

BlueCity is an international icon of circular economy, a national platform for circular entrepreneurs, and a very visible local accelerator that empowers circular entrepreneurs and inspires citizens. Their goal? To provide start-ups and scale-ups with access to circular resources, knowledge and talent, to turn ideas into action and ultimately: to help sustainable entrepreneurs to grow from intention to impact.

COOPER RECYLCING

Deep inside of Brooklyn’s Industrial Zone, Cooper Recycling boasts a state-of-the-art recycling system that can process up to 2,000 tons of NYC’s construction and demolition debris every day. As calls for environmental progress and sustainable development get stronger, Cooper is positioned to lead the construction industry away from the traditional make-take-dispose model and towards a circular economy where construction materials are recycled to a higher use than mere disposal in a landfill.

PIONEERING SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN

In summer 2019, Laurence Carr Design was selected to design a room for the prestigious Hampton Designer Showhouse benefiting Stony Brook Hospital in Southampton, New York. Laurence Carr Design created "The Restorative Room" centered around sustainable products and promoting the circular economy, through practices such as sourcing antiques, upcycling furniture, and working with eco friendly vendors. Read more about their projects, initiatives, and sustainable holistic design firm below.

ECO-INDUSTRIAL PARKS INITIATIVE

UNIDO’s Eco-industrial Parks initiative supports industrial transformation based on circular economy principles. An eco-industrial park is a community of businesses located on a common property in which businesses gain competitive advantage through industrial symbiosis. Through physical exchange of materials, energy, water and by-products, the eco-industrial parks promote resource efficiency and circular economy practices while also helping address inter-related aspects such as social standards and improved infrastructure.

EXPLORE A CIRCULAR FOOD CLUSTER

19% of Danish food companies are part of circular economy today and 54% are heading towards implementation of circular economy. The Danish Food Cluster is a member organisation that covers small and large corporates, knowledge institutions, and organisations. All in all 75% of the Danish food sector of which large members like Nestlé and smaller members like Cellugy already have implemented circular economy in their production. 

DESIGN WEEK AT THE MAKER SPACE

On February 10-15 2020, the Design Lab @ NYU MakerSpace will host their annual Design Week focusing on sustainability, design and the circular Eeonomy. Through workshops, a documentary screening, a recycling facility site visit, and panel with leading experts (Frog Design, Closed Loop Partners, and more), participants will be invited to explore ways to reduce waste, re-use materials and embrace a circular design mindset. All events open to the public. 

A SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING COALITION BOOTCAMP

SPC Immerse 2020 is the new Sustainable Packaging Coalition Bootcamp to be held in NYC at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on November 12th, 2020. This one day bootcamp will provide attendees with an immersive experience on packaging sustainability core concepts and it’s designed for sustainability, packaging, branding, marketing, communications, procurement and business development professionals that want to become more fluent in the topic.

HOW TO PRODUCE MORE FOOD WITH LESS - CASE BANK BY FOOD NATION

Food Nation is a public-private partnership established by the Danish Government and leading private organisations and companies. Food Nation creates awareness of Denmark as a global frontrunner within innovative, sustainable and efficient food production and works as a gateway for international decision makers seeking information about Denmark as a food nation.

CELEBRATE THE 
H2 REFUEL ACCELERATOR

The Urban Future Lab, in partnership with Greentown Labs and Fraunhofer TechBridge, invited participates to  celebrate the conclusion of the first ever H2 Refuel Accelerator. This unparalleled collaboration offered hydrogen technology startups opportunities and growth strategies with the support of Shell, Toyota, and NYSERDA. Pitches from the startup participants were given in Boston, which gave  the audience a chance to learn more about hydrogen's potential for zero-emissions fuel. 

CRADLE TO CRADLE: DESIGN & INNOVATION FORUM IN STOCKHOLM

Learn everything about Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute on 4-5 November to hear ideas, inspiration and practical insights from leading innovators, designers, brands and manufacturers on advancing safe and circular design, and accelerating circular business models across the Nordic region and beyond. Explore opportunities, solutions and ideas for transforming products for the circular economy with leading innovators including G-Star RAW, Houdini Sportswear, Troldtekt , Steelcase, Tengbom, 3XN/GXN, Stockholm Resilience Centre, RISE, Nordic Circular Hotspot and more. William McDonough, co-founder of Cradle to Cradle Certified, will deliver a keynote address.

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POSTPONED: THE ZERO WASTE SUMMIT MARCH 24-26

Companies for Zero Waste, who is hosting the Summit, are taking a pragmatic approach to identify actionable items to mitigate the supply chain environmental impact. The second annual Zero Waste Summit also includes a hands-on pre-summit workshop by David Gajadhar, Chairman of Companies for Zero Waste. This workshop is designed to help organizations connect the dots across the supply chain for waste mitigation and performance improvement during uncertain economic cycles. Join 200+ sustainability directors, policymakers and investors at New Jersey Innovation Institute’s Agile Strategy Lab in Newark, New Jersey. 

SOCIAL ENTERPRISES AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY

This blog looks at what we can learn from social enterprises in Chile, Portugal and the Netherlands that are already creating inclusive work opportunities for people in the circular economy. The inclusion of jobs in the circular economy is a key focus area for the Circular Jobs Initiative, by Circle Economy, a dutch impact organization that is working to ensure the transition to the circular economy is positive for work and workers.

ACCELERATING INTO CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Circular Re-Thinking is one of the first professional training courses aimed at bringing experts into companies to accelerate the circular transition. Trentino Sviluppo in collaboration with consultancy firm Terra Institute and with the support of Renewable Matter’s editorial office conceived the Circular Re-thinking School, the project aims to create a connection between experts and young professionals who are interested in real circular economy processes and the companies that want to rethink their business models. These companies are hoping to find activators who will support the transition towards better sustainability practices through the enactment of a circular business vision. The program will be replicated in the US and the Netherlands.

RESOURCE INNOVATION AND SOLUTIONS NETWORK (RISN) INCUBATOR

In 2016, the City of Phoenix and Arizona State University launched the first circular economy incubator program in the United States: RISN Incubator. The incubator is a niche-business accelerator for entrepreneurs in the early stages of waste-to-product innovation. We offer ventures an opportunity to rapidly scale and transform their startup into a vehicle to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges by helping them to test their concepts, build out their company and scale to market. Additionally, we lead education and capacity building efforts with community partners to help them gain an understanding of circular economy concepts, strategies and how it all can be implemented into their work. One way we do so is through our Professional Certificate in Ethical Circular Economy which is a 1 to 3 day intensive focused on systems thinking, social and ethical impacts, design strategies, and more.

NYC RECYCLED GLASS AGGREGATE

Glass is, theoretically, endlessly recyclable. However, glass collected in curbside recycling programs gets broken and mixed with other recyclables. At Sims Municipal Recycling, glass is immediately screened out from the recycling stream and shipped to Sims’ Glass Plant where any residual non-glass materials are removed and glass is shipped for its highest and best use. While not all glass can be recovered for use in the bottling industry, Sims Municipal Recycling is able to supply builders with recycled glass aggregate (RGA) for use in a wide array of construction projects as a locally-produced, recycled, cost-effective aggregate product.

PATHWAYS TO A CLEANER ENERGY FUTURE: THE CASE OF DENMARK

In June of 2019, Clinical Professor Carolyn Kissane lead an NYU Center for Global Affairs Global Field Intensive to Denmark and Norway, examining clean energy policies and sustainability.  Sixteen students participated in the program. Two students, Adrian Varga and Brian Myers, Energy and Environmental Policyconcentrators, in this blog post, examined Denmark's power sector and the innovative ways it is moving toward cleaner energy and deeper decarbonization.

A BROOKLYN TECH LIVING LAB INITIATIVE

Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) is excited to be a partner in testing out solutions that work toward an efficient, green, circular city. With our Living Lab initiative, DBP partners with smart cities startups to use Downtown Brooklyn as a testing ground for new technologies. Working in conjunction with incubators, accelerators and entrepreneurial hubs to identify urban tech startups, DBP is making Downtown Brooklyn a center for frontier urban technology. 

BLOXHUB URBAN PARTNERSHIPS

BLOXHUB is the Nordic Hub for Sustainable Urbanization and we help create better cities worldwide through urban partnerships. Our goal is to help inspire and share the solutions across country boarders and fields of knowledge. With Urban Partnerships, BLOXHUB seeks to create a national or global initiative on behalf of its members, which will ensure strong partnerships, knowledge sharing and collaboration. 

ZERO WASTE PRACTICES SUPPORT THE TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE

TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Zero Waste is the first program dedicated to measuring and improving zero waste system performance by encouraging the adoption of reliable, resilient and sustainable practices. Administered by Green Business Certification Inc. and supported by the USGBC, TRUE evaluates how well facilities perform in minimizing their nonhazardous solid waste and maximizing efficiency in the use of resources. With TRUE, a facility or building can achieve its zero waste goals, cut their carbon footprint and support public health. The focus for TRUE is on upstream initiatives including reduction, reuse, and closed loop practices. 

ACCELERATING THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING

Six companies graduated from the NextGen Circular Business Accelerator, managed by Closed Loop Partners, ready to scale their sustainable cup solutions. The diverse solutions include cutting-edge plant-based materials, new innovative liners for cups, and reusable cup systems that redesign the fiber to-go cup so that it is more widely recoverable or remains in circulation for multiple uses.

Urban Future Lab

370 Jay Street

Brooklyn, NY-11201

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©2018 Confederation of Danish Industry

Circular City Week