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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Circular municipalities – An analysis of circular economy initiatives in municipal policy and planning in Denmark

Circular economy has become a buzz-word in policy and planning in cities and municipalities across the globe (Petit-Boix and Leipold 2018) promising a framework for conceptualizing the break-away from linear production to circular production and consumption systems. Applying circular economy principles to policies and planning in cities and municipalities is an emerging field but the main body of literature is presently still limited to the experiences from a few pioneers such as Amsterdam and Glasgow. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the development of a conceptual framework for application of circular economy principles to cities and municipalities based on lessons learned from a Danish partnership for circular municipalities. The paper includes a state-of-the-art review that discuss how the circular economy framework has been applied in cities and municipalities across the globe. This section discusses the significant conceptual ambiguities that exists in the framework itself and the differences between the way the concept has been applied in various cities and municipalities. The review is based on classic literature review of academic literature combined with a review of reports and documentation published by cities and local governments. The paper then presents the main findings from a Danish partnership between five municipalities, the Capital Region of Denmark, three waste companies and three knowledge partners. The partnership was established in order to develop and demonstrate implementation of circular economy in five thematic areas among the participating municipalities: 1) waste, resources and waste planning, 2) circular public procurement, 3) recycling of construction and demolition materials, 4) implementation of circular economy principles in small and medium sized companies and 5) integration of circular economy in municipal strategies and policies. The main findings from the partnership project is that huge potentials exist within all five thematic areas. The results from the demonstration projects that was carried out in the partnership point towards the need for further development of procedures and tools for implement of circular principles to waste planning and public procurement while implementation of circular economy principles to municipal strategy and policy tends to strand on lack of knowledge among public servants – especially in municipal department that do not traditionally deal with environmental policy and planning. Finally, the paper concludes that the partnership model in which several municipalities collaborate with waste companies and knowledge institutions functioned as an effective platform to exchange knowledge and increase learning about circular economy.

Thomas Budde Christensen
Roskilde University


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