London's circular economy

| 29th May 2020
city hall
London is gearing up for Circular Economy Week to accelerate climate action and contribute to a green recovery.

This isn’t a choice between the environment and the economy: but it is a choice between the old linear, wasteful economy, and the new resilient and sustainable circular economy.

London’s Circular Economy Week will take place from 1 – 5 June, and will build momentum and share knowledge about how the circular economy can help tackle the climate emergency.

The focus this year is on cities and how they can reduce CO2e emissions from the production and use of products and materials. 

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB)’s third #CEWeekLDN is taking place amidst growing calls to ‘build back better' after the coronavirus crisis and brings together leaders and innovators from around the globe to consider ways of building more resource-efficient and resilient cities.


45 percent of global carbon emissions come from producing the cars, clothes, food, and other products we use every day, so applying circular economy principles to transform the way goods and materials are made, used and disposed of is essential to tackling the climate crisis. 

Just 8.6 percent of the 100 billion tonnes of raw natural materials which entered the global economy were reused last year, but circular strategies could reduce global CO2e emissions by 40 percent – or 3.7 billion tonnes – by 2050, if applied to the production and use of cement, steel, plastic and aluminium.

This isn’t a choice between the environment and the economy: but it is a choice between the old linear, wasteful economy, and the new resilient and sustainable circular economy.

Circular economy is even more relevant than ever in the current crisis, and the systems approach that underpins it is central to rethinking the challenges of climate change, shortening supply chains and reducing our vulnerability to market shocks like Covid-19. It can also support the creation of higher quality jobs and promote more connected communities.

In London alone, transitioning to a circular economy could achieve a 60 percent reduction in the city’s waste and by 2036 could provide £7 billion-worth of benefits every year in the sectors of built environment, food, textiles, electricals and plastics.

Now in its third year, Circular Economy Week will feature a wide range of online discussions, community conversations and round tables, with a focus on innovation in cities, financing the circular economy, and individual behaviour change. 


Businesses, policy makers and NGOs from across London and beyond will take part in more than 30 virtual events to help drive a circular, more resource-efficient economy. Innovators and leaders from cities including Barcelona, Toronto, Sao Paulo and Glasgow will all contribute and a range of partners are supporting the week.

Wayne Hubbard, chief executive at London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), said: “The world has woken up to the climate crisis – and there is growing awareness among policy makers, businesses and consumers that our 'take, make, dispose' model isn’t working.

"We need a profound shift to create a more resource-efficient and resilient economy to help meet climate targets – and the time is now to seize the opportunity. As we start our recovery from the coronavirus crisis, we have a major opportunity to build back better.

“This isn’t a choice between the environment and the economy: but it is a choice between the old linear, wasteful economy, and the new resilient and sustainable circular economy.

"Circular approaches can minimise waste and ensure a more sustainable use of resources, benefitting businesses and building a stronger economy. A growing number of organisations and individuals are already responding to this need, which is why it is essential to bring leading thinkers and innovators together through forums such as Circular Economy Week.”   


Consumers are increasingly dropping brands that fail to prioritise the environment. A survey of 15,000 adults across Europe, North America and Asia, published earlier this year, showed that 83 percent believe their purchasing choices can help to address environmental challenges – and 61 percent would drop a brand or product if it had poor environmental credentials.

 Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues said:  “At City Hall we want to accelerate London’s transition to a low-carbon circular economy by planning for materials to be kept in use for as long as possible and promoting business models which support this. 

"Our draft London Plan includes a world-first requirement for all large-scale developments to incorporate a circular economy statement in their planning submission. 

"We have agreed new plans and ambitious targets with boroughs to boost recycling. And the Mayor has been clear that we don’t need new incinerators in London which have a detrimental impact on recycling rates, air quality and climate change.

"Circular Economy Week will help raise the profile of this important issue and encourage people across London and beyond to support the transition to a circular economy.”  

This Author 

This article is based on a press release from the London Waste and Recycling Board.

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