1. Towards a circular economy: Key drivers

For cities and regions, the circular economy represents an opportunity to rethink production and consumption models, services and infrastructure. The circular economy is based on three principles: i) design out waste and pollution; ii) keep products and materials in use; and iii) regenerate natural systems (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2019[1]). Cities and regions have an important role to play in making this happen, as they are at the centre of key decisions determining economic growth, social well-being and environmental benefits. As such, the circular economy implies a systemic shift, whereby: services (e.g. from water to waste and energy) are provided making efficient use of natural resources as primary materials and optimising their reuse; economic activities are planned and carried out in a way to close, slow and narrow loops across value chains; and infrastructures are designed and built to avoid linear lock-in (e.g. district heating, smart grid, etc.). Both the OECD Principles on Urban Policy (OECD, 2019[2]) and the OECD Principles on Rural Policy (OECD, 2019[3]) mention the circular economy respectively as a means to encourage more efficient use of resources, and more sustainable consumption and production patterns, in large, intermediary and small cities, including at the neighbourhood level, and to strengthen the social, economic, ecological and cultural resilience of rural communities.

Being the places where people live and work, consume and dispose, cities and regions play a fundamental role in the transition to the circular economy. By 2050, the global population will reach 9 billion people, 55% of which will be living in cities, high-density places of at least 50 000 inhabitants (OECD/EC, 2020[4]). The pressure on natural resources will increase, while new infrastructure, services and housing will be needed. Already, cities represent almost two-thirds of global energy demand (IEA, 2016[5]) and release up to 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (World Bank, 2010[6]). By 2050, urban dwellers will still be the most exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants (OECD, 2012[7]). Cities produce 50% of global waste (UNEP, 2013[8]). It is estimated that globally by 2050, the levels of municipal solid waste will double (IEA, 2016[5]; UNEP/IWSA, 2015[9]). A total of 80% of food is consumed in cities (FAO, 2020[10]). At the same time, water stress and water consumption will increase by 55% by 2050 (OECD, 2012[7]). Moreover, in cities, income inequalities are higher than in other places and rich and poor dwellers live often spatially separated with consequences on equal access to goods and services. The circular economy in cities and regions is expected to reduce negative impacts on the environment through pollution decrease, increased share of renewable energy and reduction of raw materials, water, land and energy consumption (EEA, 2016[11]), while potentially increasing resilience and enhancing opportunities for economic growth and jobs.

Cities and regions hold core competencies for most policy areas underlying the circular economy. This includes water, solid waste, build environment, land use or climate change. In the building sectors, for example, cities can operate buildings and housing, and enforce regulation on commercial and residential buildings, in favour of heating, cooling and efficient energy performance. For solid waste, cities exercise powers in collection, treatment, cleaning, as well as in communication and information. Cities have powers over water management, operating infrastructures and incentivising water efficiency, amongst others. Cities and regions can approve land use planning and policies, including zoning, redevelopment and regeneration, encourage farmers’ markets and commercial urban food production and develop climate adaptation plans (C40, 2011[12]).

The potential of the circular economy to support sustainable cities, regions and countries still needs to be unlocked. Projections at the city level show environmental, social and economic impacts of the circular economy: for example, applying a circular economy approach to the construction chain in the city of Amsterdam (Netherlands) would decrease GHG emissions by half a million tonnes of CO2 per year (C40 Cities, 2018[13]). In London (United Kingdom), the benefits from circular approaches applied to the built environment, food, textiles, electrical appliances and plastics are estimated at GBP 7 billion every year by 2036 (London Waste & Recycling Board, 2015[14]). About 50 000 jobs linked to the circular economy are estimated to be created in the Île-de-France region (City of Paris, 2019[15]). However, today, less than 10% of the global economy is circular (Circle Economy, 2020[16]). Unlocking the potential of the circular economy in cities and regions implies going beyond solely technical aspects. It requires putting the necessary governance in place to create incentives (legal, financial), stimulating innovation (technical, social, institutional) and generating information (data, knowledge, capacities).

In the post-COVID-19 scenario, the circular economy can become the new normal. This unprecedented crisis highlighted the unsustainable nature of certain environmental and social trends and led to a reconsideration of current production and consumption patterns, including for mobility, material use and food. The circular economy can help address unsustainable trends and find adequate solutions towards a green recovery. In particular, cities and regions have a role to play in closing the loops, reducing waste, reusing resources and restoring ecosystems alongside long-term recovery measures for more resilient, sustainable and thriving societies. By reconfiguring material loops, the circular economy offers an example of resilience in the face of future crises. Human-centred cities could reduce private car use and regenerate green spaces. Organic waste could be transformed into high-quality fertiliser for local food production in rural areas. Buildings, made of traceable and recyclable materials, could absorb carbon dioxide, treat wastewater and produce energy (Raworth, 2020[17]). This will require a combination of natural and technological loops, incentives to create projects and profitable investment, conducive regulations and strong links with rural areas, in order to promote a cultural shift towards a more resourceful and less wasteful society (Romano, 2020[18]).

There are many definitions of the circular economy. However, the basic assumption consists of designing out waste and pollution of the economic system. More than 100 definitions of the circular economy have been counted (Kirchherr, Reike and Hekkert, 2017[19]) (Box 1.1). The circular economy avoids materials being used once and forever gone, through: closing the loops by recycling and remanufacturing; slowing loops by increasing the working life of goods and products; and narrowing loops by using natural resources and goods more efficiently within the linear system (e.g. buildings and cars) (McCarthy, Dellink and Bibas, 2018[20]). When it comes to cities and regions, then the circular economy can be defined as a guiding framework whereby: services (e.g. from water to waste and energy) are provided making efficient use of natural resources as primary materials and optimising their reuse; economic activities are planned and carried out in a way to close, slow and narrow loops across value chains; and infrastructures are designed and built to avoid linear lock-in (e.g. district heating, smart grid, etc.).

The circular economy is not a new concept but is now facing a validity challenge period. Metaphorically, the circular economy is the shift from the “cowboy” to the “spaceman” economy where resources are finite: while the cowboy economy is characterised by unlimited resources in an unexploited open system, the spaceship economy is a closed system with limited reservoirs for extraction and pollution, where humans must find their place “in a cyclical ecological system capable of continuous reproduction of material form” (Boulding, 1966[25]). Key concepts that define the circular economy today were developed already in the 1970s, consisting of the service-life extension of goods, and selling goods as services, as a logical step in a utilisation-focused economy in loops in order to increase the competitiveness of economic actors (Stahel, 1982[26]; Stahel and Reday-Mulvey, 1981[27]; Reday-Mulvey and Stahel, 1977[28]; OECD, 1982[29]). Formally introduced in the economic literature by Pearce and Turner (1990[30]), the concept of the circular economy has been found in several schools of thoughts from environmental and ecological economics, to regenerative design, performance economy and industrial ecology, amongst others (Frosch and Gallopoulos, 1989[31]; Lyle, 1994[32]; Erkman, 1997[33]; Korhonen et al., 2018[34]; Stahel, 2019[35]). Collaborative consumption and the sharing economy have contributed to the circular economy framework. According to Blomsma and Brennan (2017[36]), the circular economy is now facing its “validity challenge period” on its way to becoming a robust and consolidated concept, implying a radical shift in consumption and production patterns.

The circular economy is not an end per se but a means to an end. The circular economy provides an opportunity to do more with less, to better use available natural resources, to reduce waste generation in the first place and to transform waste into new resources, while promoting new forms of employment and tackling inequalities (e.g. access to sharing services). As such, while the environmental narrative, whereby less use of material implies reduced GHG emissions has been so far predominant in promoting the the circular economy, cities and regions are increasingly paying attention to the social and economic components as drivers for this transition.

Nowadays, the circular economy represents a new socio-economic paradigm for policymakers and a wide range of stakeholders. The circular economy is about economics, innovation and competitiveness. As such, it goes beyond waste management and recycling and implies changes in production and consumption models, eco-design and integrated planning. Industry, universities and governments can spur innovation to deal with the consequences of the accumulated legacy waste of the Anthropocene (such as plastic in the oceans) (Stahel, 2010[37]). Still, most companies focus on waste management in their internal processes and devote less innovation efforts on product design, to improve reuse, repair or maintenance (EEA, 2019[38]). On the other hand, cities and regions often interpret the circular economy as a synonym of recycling, missing the systemic perspective. The responses to the main challenges cities and regions are facing in terms of resource availability, GHG emissions and waste generation lie in the collective capacity to transition to a circular economy, an economic model that uses resources and materials rather than using them up (OECD, 2019[39]).

The circular economy can help drive sustainable development. By promoting a rethinking of business models consisting in designing more durable and recyclable products, reusing materials in the production cycle and fostering a more responsible consumption, the circular economy approach is an interesting implementation vehicle to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12, pledging for more sustainable and responsible consumption and production patterns. Moreover, it is also equally relevant for the achievement of SDGs 6 (water), 7 (energy), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land).

The circular economy is transformative, systemic and functional. Projections show that shifting from a linear approach of “take, make and dispose” to a circular system is estimated to have USD 4.5 trillion potential for economic growth by 2030 (Accenture, 2015[40]). The circular economy could be worth as much as USD 700 billion in consumer material savings (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2013[41]). To make this happen, cities and regions would have to take into account the transformative, systemic and functional nature of the circular economy, which is expressed in this report by the 3Ps framework, people, policies and places (OECD, 2016[42]); Chapter 3; Figure 1.1). The circular economy is transformative as it implies a cultural shift towards different production and consumption pathways, and new business and governance models (people). It requires a holistic and systemic approach that cuts across sectorial policies, and a functional approach going beyond the administrative boundaries of cities to close, narrow and slow loops at the right scale (places). Starting from these considerations, the report is structured as follows:

  • Why: Assessment of megatrends and opportunities as main drivers for cities and regions to transition from a linear to a circular economy (Chapter 1).

  • Who: Analysis of who does what at various levels of government, as well as the role of key categories of stakeholders (Chapters 2 and 3).

  • What: Mapping of the sectors that are mostly included in circular economy initiatives (Chapter 3).

  • Where: Observations concerning the scale at which circular economy-related initiatives take place and interaction across urban and rural areas (Chapter 3).

  • How: An appraisal of the main multi-level governance gaps to the circular economy in cities and regions (Chapter 4) and measurement frameworks (Chapter 5); zoom on policy responses and a self-assessment tool to factor in the existence and level of implementation of enabling conditions for transitioning to a circular economy (Chapter 6).

According to the results of the OECD Survey on the Circular Economy in Cities and Regions, climate change, global agendas and economic changes are major drivers for surveyed cities and regions to transition to a circular economy (OECD Survey (2020[43]), Box 1.2). Major drivers for transitioning to a circular economy are environmental (climate change, 73%), institutional (global agendas, 52%) and socio-economic (changing economic conditions, 51%). Additionally, the circular transition is driven by job creation (47%), private sector initiatives (46%), new business models (43%), technical developments (43%) and research and development (R&D) (41%) (Figure 1.3). The word cloud in Figure 1.4 expresses the keywords respondents most associate with the circular economy in cities and regions, which are “climate change”, “zero waste” and “innovation”. The below section provides an in-depth description of these drivers.

Climate change is a driver to the circular economy for 73% of surveyed cities and regions, as cities are both vulnerable to climate change impacts and contribute to climate risks. Cities contribute to 70% of GHG emissions (World Bank, 2010[44]). In order to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to limit global warming to less than 2˚C and 1.5°C by 2030, emissions would have to be 25% and 55% lower than in 2018 respectively (UNEP, 2019[45]). The EU, within the framework of the EU Green Deal, aims to achieve an economy with net-zero GHG emissions (climate neutrality) by 2050. Additionally, within the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, the EU includes energy targets and policy objectives for the period from 2021 to 2030, achieving at least a 32% share for renewable energy and 32.5% improvement in energy efficiency (EC, 2020[46]). The adoption of a circular economy framework in 5 key areas for cities (steel, plastic, aluminium, cement and food) could achieve a reduction of a total of 9.3 billion tonnes of GHG in 2050 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2019[47]).

Materials management activities are directly or indirectly responsible for a significant share of GHG emissions in OECD countries. By 2060, total emissions are projected to reach 75 Gt CO2-eq. of which materials management would constitute approximately 50 Gt CO2-eq. Global material use is projected to more than double in 2060 (from 89 Gt in 2017 to 167 Gt). In addition, while recycling is projected to grow and become more competitive compared to the extraction of primary materials, its share remains ten times smaller than the share of mining. Consequently, there is a significant opportunity to potentially reduce emissions through effective materials management policies, prevention of material consumption, eco-design and reuse. These measures characterise the circular economy in cities and regions, for example in the built environment (OECD, 2019[24]).

Cities and regions are also part of the solution, as the majority of environmental and climate-related spending occurs at the subnational level. The transition from a linear to a circular economy gains growing relevance in relation to the future of investments and required infrastructure. Global investment in energy, transport, water and telecoms to support economic growth and development, are estimated at USD 6.3 trillion per year by 2030 (OECD, 2017[48]). At the global level, the required infrastructure investment to meet the United Nations (UN) SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation) and 7 (affordable and clean energy) for universal access to drinking water, sanitation and electricity is expected to reach USD 3.5 trillion (Oxford Economics, 2017[49]). As such, over half of the urban infrastructure that will exist in 2050 still has to be built. How this infrastructure is designed and developed will affect the way people will travel, buildings will be constructed and material repurposed, with the aim of reducing the use of fossil fuel and making heating and cooling more efficient. Between 2000 and 2016, subnational governments in 30 OECD countries were responsible on average for 55% of environmental and climate-related spending (OECD, 2019[50]). However, the climate-related investment represented 0.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) on average between 2000 and 2016.

The recovery phase following the COVID-19 crisis holds the potential for including circular economy principles in green policies and infrastructure. • The European Commission (EC) projects investment needs of additional EUR 260 billion per year to reach European Green Deal’s goals (EC, 2019[51]). In order to transition towards a low-carbon economy, governments could encourage more efficient use of resources and more sustainable consumption and production patterns, notably by promoting circular economy to keep the value of goods and products at their highest, prevent waste generation, reuse and transform waste into resources (OECD, 2020[52]).

Global agendas are driving the transition to the circular economy for 52% of surveyed cities and regions. The circular economy approach can contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While it is strictly linked to SDG 12 on sustainable and responsible consumption and production patterns (Box 1.3), other SDGs (e.g. 6, 7, 15) are also relevant for increasing sustainability in cities (SDG 11). The circular economy can also support the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change since practices of reusing, recycling, sharing, amongst others, reduce GHG emissions and simultaneously address issues linked natural resources extraction and exploitation. Finally, the circular economy can support the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (2016), the European Green Deal and G20 initiatives on resource efficiency.

For almost 40% of surveyed cities and regions, national and supranational legal frameworks are proving important impetus towards a circular economy in cities and regions. This is, for example, the case of the European Circular Economy Package (EC, 2015[56]; 2018[57]), the New Circular Economy Action Plan (EC, 2020[58]) (Box 1.4). In Japan, the legislative framework for establishing a “sound material-cycle society” promotes the life-cycle and zero emissions economy (Japanese Ministry of the Environment, n.d.[59]).

A number of bottom-up initiatives are stimulating governmental actions towards the circular economy in surveyed cities and regions. This is the case of the region of Lapland (Finland), where the circular economy started to be implemented as a business sector initiative in 2012. To spur competitiveness of industry, linked to the resilience of the region, the industrial sector (e.g. bio-forest, forestry, mining and steel among others) sought support from public authorities concerning the reuse of by-products and residues. The request was well received by the local authorities, which started a discussion on the circular economy, providing technical assistance and promoting collaborations. Increasingly, a number of international organisations, umbrella organisations and foundations are supporting cities and regions in their transition to a circular economy with regards to business and citizen initiatives (e.g. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, C40, Climate KIC, ICLEI, Eurocities, European Investment Bank, etc.).

Changing economic conditions represent a major driver towards the circular economy for 51% of respondents (OECD, 2020[43]). The COVID-19 crisis has put the world on standby, unlike any other economic, social and climate crisis, resulting in a very significant GDP loss for 2020 (4.5% (OECD, 2020[64]). Still, cities are engines of economic growth: projections show that a group of 600 cities will generate nearly 65% of the world’s economic growth by 2025 (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012[65]) and that cities tend to generate more income per capita as they increase in size (Bettencourt et al., 2007[66]). While pursuing economic growth, resource efficiency should be improved, as expressed by the concept of decoupling (Box 1.5).

Urban GDP per capita can influence the level of domestic material consumption (DMC). DMC per capita has shown a descending trend in most OECD countries since 2000 and the material consumption in the OECD area remains at 19 Gt per year (16% less than in 2005). However, by 2060, the global average per capita income is projected to reach current OECD levels (USD 40 000) with consequences on material use, which is projected to grow by 1.5% per year over the same period (OECD, 2019[67]). At urban level, material consumption in the world is expected to grow from 40 billion tonnes in 2010 to 90 billion tonnes in 2050. (UNEP, 2019[68]). Some scholars suggest that urban DMC per capita is significantly correlated to urban GDP per capita (Malcolm Baynes and Kaviti Musango, 2017[69]). In particular, the emerging middle class is likely to double its share of global consumption from one-third in 2019 to two-thirds by 2050 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2019[47]), with impacts on the increase in domestic consumption and carbon emissions (World Economic Forum, 2017[70]; Wiedenhofer et al., 2016[71]). Other projections show that one billion inhabitants living in cities will reach the global consuming class5 by 2025. (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012[65]). In the absence of new measures, material consumption by the world’s cities will more than double, evolving from 40 billion tonnes in 2010 to approximately 90 billion tonnes by 2050 (World Economic Forum, 2018[72]). Figure 1.6 shows the GDP per capita in cities and regions that have responded to the OECD survey.

The circular economy can also increase competitiveness through production savings and material reuse. According to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the increase in competitiveness through production savings is estimated at EUR 600 billion in the EU-27 by 2030 (EEA, 2016[73]). Some activities, such as those related to the construction and food sector, are projected to bring relevant economic benefits in terms of added value. Projections show that in the city of Amsterdam, for example, strategies for material reuse can bring about a value of EUR 85 million per year within the construction sector and EUR 150 million per year with more efficient organic residual streams (Eurocities, 2017[74]).

Job creation is a driver for 4% of surveyed cities and regions. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of jobs related to the circular economy in the EU increased by 5% to reach around 4 million (EC, 2020[75]). Circularity can be expected to have a positive net effect on job creation provided that workers acquire the skills required by the green transition (EC, 2020[58]). Moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy, from landfill to reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, to clean mobility, amongst others, implies changes in the future of jobs, skills, social and economic models. Yet, the transition should be “just” by taking into account people’s social well-being, quality of life and equity. It is estimated that by 2030, the number of additional jobs would exceed 75 000 in Finland, 100 000 in Sweden, 200 000 in the Netherlands, 400 000 in Spain and half a million in France. This is due to the fact that an economy favouring repair, maintenance, upgrading, remanufacturing, reuse, recycling of materials and product-life extension, is more labour intensive than both mining and manufacturing of a linear economy (Wijkman and Skånberg, 2017[76]).

A growing population and higher living standards will drive higher levels of waste production and resources consumption. By 2050, the global population will reach 9 billion people. The proportion of the global population living in cities is projected to reach 55% by 2050 (OECD/EC, 2020[4]). This transition will require a significant expansion of existing cities, as well as the construction of new cities (UNEP, 2018[77]). The total population of the 612 FUAs (see definition in Box 1.3) has grown by 11% between 2005 and 2018 (OECD, 2020[78]). Moreover, the number of new cities of intermediate size is growing rapidly. Between 1990 and 2015, the number of new cities of at least 100 000 inhabitants increased by 1 644 (OECD, 2019[79]). These trends will require the use of biomass, metals, non-metallic materials and fossil fuels to address the needs of food, housing, energy and infrastructure. Cities and regions that responded to the OECD survey represent cities of all size (Figure 1.7): a total of 20% of the sample are cities and regions with more than 1 million inhabitants, 32% with between 500 000 and 1 million and almost half of the sample (48%) represent cities and regions with less than 500 000 inhabitants (Annex 1.A). Regarding waste generation from households, Figure 1.8 presents data from cities and regions that completed the OECD survey: 17% generate more than 500 kg/per inhabitants/year, 20% remains below 300 kg/per inhabitants/year, 26% between 400 and 300 kg/per inhabitants/year and 37% between 500 and 400 kg/per inhabitants/year. A person living in the OECD area generates on average 520 kg of municipal waste per year (2020); this is 30 kg less than in 2000 but still 20 kg more than in 1990 (OECD, 2020[80]).

The trend in terms of household size decrease implies less material efficiency. The number of people per household in the EU declined from 3.3 persons in 1960 to 2.36 in 2015, while the OECD average in 2015 stood at 2.46 (OECD, 2020[81]). The share of 1-person households reached 41% in Germany, 38% in the Netherlands and 36% in France in 2018 (Ortiz-Ospina, 2019[82]). The ageing population is one of the drivers of this trend. In OECD countries, the population older than 65 years increased from less than 9% in 1960 to 17.2% in 2018 and is expected to achieve 28% in 2050. By then, this range will represent at least one-quarter of the total population (OECD, 2017[83]). Older generations (population aged 80 and above) are expected to more than double in OECD countries, from 4.6% in 2017 to 10.1% in 2050 (OECD, 2019[84]). The decreasing household size will imply more appliances and installations and an increasing need for housing (EEA, 2015[85]).

Population density is a key factor in areas such as waste management, energy consumption and material consumption, which are relevant for the circular economy. More densely populated countries consume on average less materials. This is the case of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the EU (EEA, 2015[85]). Regarding the local level, as carbon emissions are closely associated with urban density and structure, compact cities can contribute to reducing GHG emissions by decreasing the new construction of roads, sewers, water lines and other infrastructure (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2019[47]; UNEP, 2018[77]). Studies suggest that there is a correlation between energy consumption efficiency and population density (Morikawa, 2012[86]). Furthermore, density also plays a key role in the waste sector of cities, as low population density might be a limiting factor to achieve higher recycling rates, as the costs of waste collection and transportation are higher in less populated areas. However, a high population density can be a limiting factor, as it requires a more efficient waste management system due to sanitation problems and the scarcity and cost of land (Matsunaga and Themelis, 2002[87]; Montevecchi and Reisinger, 2014[88]).

New business models, technical developments and R&D represent a driver for more than 40% of surveyed cities and regions. New business models in cities are flourishing, from reverse logistics, reuse, leasing and sharing (Chapter 2). Increasingly, cities are considering green infrastructure and decoupling alternatives, such as new electric vehicles, solar panels, smart-grids, retrofitting of buildings, recycling facilities as part of their circular vision (Wijkman and Skånberg, 2016[89]). Many cities and regions host industrial symbiosis processes and clusters, based on the principle that what is waste for one is an input for others. Industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg (Denmark) fosters eco-innovation amongst eight public and private companies to reuse water and energy and recycle materials. In Sweden, the roadmap for industrial symbiosis makes a connection with the urban symbiosis. While the industrial symbiosis allows resources exchanges across companies, urban symbiosis looks at mutual and beneficial exchanges of resources within urban areas and across industries. The Metropolitan Project of Industrial Symbiosis in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (Spain) co-ordinates industrial symbiosis projects with circular economy initiatives. The Industrial symbiosis in Drummond (Canada) is a network of local companies exchanging resources, such as waste materials, by-products, equipment, space or even energy. Some companies participating in the industrial symbiosis sell their production waste rather than pay to dispose of it, thus making a double economic profit (OECD, 2020[43]). Nevertheless, increasing recovery, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling of metals, polymers and electronic waste, for example, require large investments and R&D for technological innovation. Discussions of whether solutions are technologically feasible and at which scale are likely to lead towards a second-best state, before being able to realistically achieve an economy that is circular.


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The table below provides a snapshot of the key data collected across cities and regions participating in the OECD Survey on the Circular Economy in Cities and Regions. Data are provided by 44 cities and 2 regions. They refer to the corresponding administrative level to the city or region responding to the survey (Annex A). Four dimensions are represented: level of GDP, population size, the share of recycled waste and CO2 emissions. The table also reports on the existence or not of a circular economy strategy. Further information on the strategies will be provided in Chapter 2.


← 1. Methodological note: Answers from three regions are not included. The OECD Metropolitan Areas Database does not include metropolitan areas for the following survey respondents: Dunedin (New Zealand), Joensuu (Finland), Kemi (Finland) and Velez-Malaga (Spain). The Barcelona Metropolitan Area (Spain) and Sabadell (Spain) are included within the Functional Urban Area of Barcelona (Spain). The communes of Peñalolén (Chile) and Santiago (Chile) are included within the Functional Urban Area of Santiago (Chile).

← 2.  European Urban Initiative: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/newsroom/news/2019/03/20-03-2019-european-urban-initiative-post-2020-the-commission-proposal (accessed 31July 2020).

← 3. Intelligent Cities Challenge: https://www.intelligentcitieschallenge.eu/ (accessed 31July 2020).

← 4.  Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI): https://ec.europa.eu/research/environment/index.cfm?pg=circular (accessed 31July 2020)

← 5. Consuming class is defined as those individuals with an annual income of more than USD 3 600 or USD 10 per day at purchasing power parity (PPP), using constant PPP USD (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012[65]).

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