How the post-industrial city of Bilbao can accelerate circular innovation

April 5, 2018

On April 5, 2018, the city of Bilbao and the surrounding territory of Bizkaia presented the results of the Circle City Scan, a visual roadmap with an analysis and identification of impactful and tangible opportunities to spark the circular transition within the city and the territory. Spain’s first Circle City Scan was initiated through a consortium composed of Circle Economy, Innobasque, Bilbao Ekintza and BEAZ in collaboration with Aclima, Ihobe and Inèdit.

Six circular strategies

Through an extensive analysis of the economic and political landscape as well as resource flows of the territory, the metal, restaurant and wholesale sectors were identified to be the most influential in the realisation of a circular Bilbao-Bizkaia. Combined, they provide over 137.000 jobs (28%), add €8 Billion to the local economy and are responsible for 17% of total resource use. Building upon this, the Circle City Scan creates a Circular Vision for the territory; providing 6 strategies that fundamentally change the flow of materials and resources through the city. The vision highlights the interconnectivity between the sectors to demonstrate how circular strategies can build upon one-another to boost employment and strengthen the Bizkaian economy.


The restaurant, wholesale and metal sectors are best positioned to transition towards the circular economy

A circular economy is created through action. Recognising this, the visual roadmap provides a practical and scalable roadmap to implement 6 pilot projects that have the highest transformative potential. For example, what better way to re-vitalise Bilbao’s historic metal sector as a high-tech hub for the future, than through the 3D printing of metal components, in a process known as ‘Additive Manufacturing’. Due to the lighter environmental footprint and possibilities of remanufacturing, Additive Manufacturing can be a powerful tool in transitioning the Bizkaian metal sector towards a circular economy.

“Now is the time to bring these six projects to reality. [...] We believe there is a big opportunity to make a more efficient use of resources, create jobs and growth, and develop new innovative solutions and business models, so we are willing to see how the projects jump into the next step!” - Lola Elejalde, Foresight and Internationalization Manager, Innobasque.

The strategies proposed in the report present a clear way forward for the city and the territory. To ensure the implementation of pilot projects, the next step of the collaborative project is to bring together local stakeholders to create a circular ecosystem and further propel the transition towards a circular economy.

“With this visual roadmap, Bilbao-Bizkaia starts to position itself as a frontrunner in the transition towards circularity. They are now in a prime position to capitalise on the energy of the consortium partners, to drive the implementation of innovative circular business models that operate within the planetary boundaries of our planet.” - Annerieke Douma, Director Program and Business Development, Circle Economy.

From post-industrial economy to an innovative circular hotspot

Rapidly re-inventing itself as a high-tech, trade and service-oriented economy, Bilbao-Bizkaia recognises the circular economy as a vital component in creating a competitive, healthy and sustainable future for the territory. By applying innovative circular strategies, companies can create new value by keeping resources in circulation for as long as possible and utilising resources, once considered waste, as inputs in a new cycle. The circular economy promises to open up new economic opportunities; boosting GDP and employment and, ultimately, create a more future-proof and resilient city and territory.

“The Bilbao-Bizkaia Circular project has allowed us to approach a methodology that helps identify market niches with high potential for circularity and to identify specific opportunities.”- Ainara Basurko Urkiri, Director General BEAZ.

Stay in the loop

Subscribe today and be the first to know about new report releases, events and more.
Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please enter your email address
Please enter your company name
Choose from the list
Please enter your role
Choose from the list
Please enter your role
Please check this box
You can unsubscribe from these communications whenever you desire.
For detailed information, kindly review our Privacy Policy.


We are looking forward to keeping you updated on the latest circularity news.
Thank you!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.