October 18, 2021

New Circle Lab for Cities programme launches flagship Actions Framework

Enabling circular economy solutions for every city

Together with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, Metabolic and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Circle Economy is launching the Circle Lab for Cities programme, supporting cities in boosting their efforts toward a circular economy.

'With this programme, we are launching a digital platform for cities that offers knowledge, actionable insights and tools to support the implementation of practical circular economy solutions, helping them achieve their sustainability goals. This digital platform will continuously evolve and offer updated content and new features as more cities engage with it. We welcome user feedback so we can continuously develop content and release features based on cities' specific needs,' says Ivonne Bojoh, Head of Digital at Circle Economy.

Through the Circle Lab for Cities programme, cities can explore the circular solutions implemented by their peers, scan their urban metabolism, and act to advance their transition to a circular economy in priority sectors. 


Specifically, the digital platform developed as part of this programme includes a wealth of tools, knowledge and actionable insights—allowing city practitioners to identify priorities based on a local assessment of resource flows and existing initiatives. City actors will also have the opportunity to explore and learn from the circular solutions their peers have already implemented. The programme also includes the development of tools and materials to support planning, stakeholder engagement and monitoring of the circular strategies implementation locally.


'The Circle Lab for Cities programme aims to provide each city with the right instruments to take the next step in their circular development journey. As a global network, we aim to develop tools with local governments, to ensure that they address practical needs and are adaptable to different local contexts. This is why we will be testing all tools with network cities from five world regions,' says Sunandan Tiwari, Director of Global Implementation at ICLEI.

Funded by the MAVA Foundation, the programme represents a powerful collaboration that brings together leading expertise on the circular economy and one of the largest networks of local and regional governments working towards a sustainable urban future.


The program is guided by the Circular City Actions Framework, developed by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Circle Economy, Metabolic and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to introduce cities to the range of strategies and actions available to them as they work towards a circular economy at the local level.


The framework is structured into five complementary strategies, the 5 Rs:

  • Rethink: Redesign systems to lay the foundation for circular activities and enable the transition to a circular economy 
  • Regenerate: Harmonise with nature by promoting infrastructure, production systems and material sourcing that allows natural ecosystems to thrive
  • Reduce: Do more and better with less by using and supporting infrastructure, processes and products that are designed to minimise material, water and energy use as well as waste generation, from production to end-of-use
  • Reuse: Use goods longer and more often by extending and intensifying the use of existing resources, products, spaces and infrastructure
  • Recover: Eliminate waste by maximising the recovery of resources at the end of the use phase and so that they can be reintroduced into production processes 


The 5 Rs are linked to 15 actions local governments can take that reflect the different roles local and regional governments play, from public service delivery to cooperation with local stakeholders, asset management, urban planning and regulation. They can be applied to all production, consumption and waste management processes influenced by the city, local businesses or residents. In addition, Circle Economy and ICLEI are launching a Cities Collection on the Circle Lab Knowledge Hub. The collection features city examples across the 5 Rs and diverse sectors cities can influence.


Local governments and city actors are invited to participate in the Circle Lab for Cities programme, which offers a hands-on, cost-effective and practical process equipping them with the strategies and tools their city needs to take the next step towards a circular economy. 

From engaging in the programme and making use of the tools it offers, cities can expect:

  • Improved understanding of how the circular economy translates to the local level based on best practices from cities with similar characteristics;
  • Support in selecting priority sectors based on material, greenhouse gas and employment data;
  • Guidance in identifying circular economy interventions relevant to their context;
  • Access to a platform that facilitates funding for selected circular interventions.


Are you a city practitioner interested in testing tools to make your circular economy strategy more actionable? Register below and be among the first to test circular development tools which will help make your city more circular.



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