Harnessing the power of collaboration to enable circular economies 

With more than half the world’s population expected to be living in cities by 2050 and 80% of global resources consumed within that same space, the need to design environmentally efficient cities that utilise the latest in technology, materials and talent is essential. To allow for this strategic growth cities are developing circular economy blueprints that encourage collaborative engagement across industries and organisations updating and adapting policies, sharing knowledge, and encouraging innovation for less wasteful systems.

Future city thinking – Peterborough is waving the flag for the UK

Peterborough is one of those cities that is aiming to take advantage of future city thinking. Establishing Peterborough DNA in 2012 with a view to engaging with local communities and businesses, Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council successfully positioned themselves as thought leaders in smart city design and planning. This recently saw the city being awarded the prestigious Smart City of the Year Award in 2015 by The World Smart City Congress in Barcelona; beating stiff competition from over 264 participants across 52 countries.

Working collaboratively across organisations Peterborough’s city leaders presented the Congress with their blueprint for the city to become the UK’s Environment Capital and its first Circular City. This focus on engaging with citizens and business has encouraged a mind-set change providing a foundation for sustainability as the city aims to deliver on their fundamental goal of growth, innovation and sustainability.

Circular cities achieve less pollution, less waste and more energy

A circular city aims to manage its resources effectively.  By working with citizens and businesses to find solutions to regenerate rather than discard; circular cities can deliver a more competitive economy, driving productivity and helping to forge stronger social ties.

Of course Peterborough isn’t the only city taking this holistic approach to its future city development. Amsterdam has an ambitious plan of its own to ensure the city delivers a cleaner, safer and healthier environment for everyone.

Circular Amsterdam project

Circular Amsterdam project

The Circular Amsterdam Project  launched in 2014 delivers a practical vision and roadmap to establish Amsterdam as a leading circular city, both for its citizens and as an example for cities around the world.

Innovation, business opportunities and the creation of jobs is core to Amsterdam’s vision and the city has been utilising a collaborative model that engages cross sector organisations, companies, city governments, and NGOs to help achieve its ambition.

Businesses are investing in the circular economy

It’s not just cities that are placing the circular economy at the heart of their philosophy.  Desko based in Germany is an office furniture company who have initiated a buy back scheme to extend the lifetime of their products.

Office furniture is often replaced every 7 years with new products. Desko identified the waste in material and energy associated with this model and took the decision to offer a three tier sell and buy back scheme. When the furniture needs replacing Desko buy it back at a percentage of its initial sale price before reselling at reduced prices, typically by between 25% and 50% of the initial sale value.  

When the product reaches its end of life, instead of disposing of the product Desko collects the product and recovers parts that are still able to be refurbished or repaired for use in some of their other products.

By spreading the cost of manufacturing over the three tiered sales scheme the company has been successful in reducing its environmental impact by 93.5%.

Eco-Friendly developments focus on reusing, not discarding resources

Eco-Friendly developments are being trialed all around the world proving the circular economy is a philosophy that resonates across the globe.

Punggol in Singapore is an Eco-Town that focuses on reusing as much of its resources as possible. Reusing water from sinks to flush toilets has helped encourage waste recycling to residents whilst Town leaders have agreed deals with manufacturers to lease products which are then maintained by the manufacturer and taken back at end of life to recycle for upgrade and reuse.

Embracing this philosophy has enabled Punggol to lease solar panels that provide the Town’s energy whilst reducing installation and maintenance costs. Any additional energy is then sold back to the energy companies to recoup their losses.

The building blocks of the circular economy

The circular economy is providing the building blocks for cities, businesses and citizens to embrace new ideals and models for economical, environmental and social benefit. Peterborough and Amsterdam are providing evidence that the transition from the linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economic model to one of regeneration is achievable through collaboration and inclusion providing the blueprint for others to follow.



We are a team of creative professionals working with companies who provide solutions to global environmental and social issues helping to create a cleaner, safer and healthier environment for everyone.