Reasons for adopting a circular development pathway

The transformation into a circular city is likely to be costly and disruptive. It will require a wholesale shift in the way we plan, design and manage our cities. It will also necessitate changes in social practices, lifestyles and systems of provision. The support for this transformation, from politicians and those inhabiting the city, will be essential. This chapter presents the evidence for adopting a circular development pathway gleaned from the case studies and from the wider research.

Reduce resource consumption and wastage

All three circular actions can help to reduce resource consumption. Reuse and recycling of construction materials and adaptation of infrastructure reduces waste, as well as material and energy consumption. In Amsterdam, it is estimated that the high-value reuse and recycling of construction waste would save 500,000 tonnes of materials per annum. Recycling soil also reduces wastage and the need to import topsoil. Soil-washing resulted in 90% of excavated soil in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP) being reused on site, which reduced transportation and associated emissions. Integrated closed-loop systems can reduce resource consumption and waste. In Hammarby, Ecocycles reduced fossil fuel consumption by 28-42%, water consumption by 41-46% and waste going to landfill by 90%. These are very significant savings.

Recycling proteins from waste-water to produce animal feed-stock, as trialled in Amsterdam, reduces waste. It also reduces the land area and water needed to grow crops, as well as the energy costs associated with production and transportation. Heat recovered from buildings (De Ceuvel) or from waste-water treatment (Hammarby) reduces energy consumption. However, sometimes looping can increase resource consumption, due to the rebound effect. For example, the renewal of the grey-water recycling system in Paris might actually increase overall water consumption, unless it is metered.

The ecological regeneration of vacant brownfield sites can limit the consumption of land outside the city for new development. Vacant properties and sites are being identified in Paris, Amsterdam and London to reduce under-utilisation. The adaptation of existing infrastructure for new uses reduces resource wastage, and the need to build new or demolish existing infrastructure (e.g. Paris Reinvented). Temporary planning permissions are used in all three cities to encourage the reuse of space and infrastructure. Flexible and multi-use spaces incorporated into buildings and urban form can reduce land consumed by urban activities. Flexible buildings in Amsterdam and flexible planning in Stockholm are used to this end.

Ecosystem services

Regenerative and looping actions improve ecosystem services.1 For example, off-grid rainwater harvesting and grey-water reuse systems have been adopted in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP) and De Ceuvel (DC). These provide a clean water supply and reduce problems with drought and flooding on site. Grey-water recycling can also enhance river ecology, by preventing sewage overflows as in Stockholm Royal Seaport (SRSP). The provision of green and blue infrastructure regulates the urban climate (Corvalan et al., 2005; Peng et al., 2012). This in turn reduces energy consumed by heating and cooling systems.

Green corridors, like those adopted in SRSP and QEOP, allow for the dispersal of plant and animal species. This increases biodiversity. Bioremediation (with bacteria) and phytoremediation (with plants) have been used to decontaminate soil and water in SRSP, QEOP and DC. This increases land availability in urban locations, potentially protecting the hinterland from development. Green infrastructure can also help to regulate noise pollution and air pollution (Chaparro and Terradas, 2009). It has been used to this end in all four cities. It can also produce raw materials for use in the bio-economy. For example, water-weed is harvested and used to create construction materials in Amsterdam. Blue-green infrastructure also provides important cultural services,2 preserving cultural identity and a sense of place.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Circular actions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy recovery from organic waste helps reduce greenhouse gasses produced from landfill and decarbonises the energy supply. For example, biomass is used to produce biogas in Paris, which is injected into the heating system to decarbonise it. It also reduces waste going to landfill. Ecocycles (energy recovery system) in Hammarby has reduced CO2 emissions by 29—30%.

The Dutch government recognises the contribution an improvement in efficiency in raw material and material value chains could make to cutting CO2. They estimate a 9% reduction in emissions (Blok et al., 2017). The case of Amsterdam demonstrates that looping construction and organic waste flows can make a significant contribution. The circle scan project calculated that high- value recycling and reuse of construction waste could save 75,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum, whilst dismantling and separation of components and materials from buildings could save 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum (Bastein et ah, 2016).

Looping organic waste could also make significant savings. The circle scan project calculated that cascading of organic waste flows (300,000 tonnes of C02 per annum), organic waste separation (100,000 tonnes of C02 per annum), recovering nutrients from organic waste (100,000 tonnes of C02 per annum) and the establishment of a bio-refinery hub (300,000 tonnes of C02 per annum) could save 800,000 tonnes of ССЬ per annum (ibid).

Green infrastructure can be used to sequester ССЬ (McPherson, 1998; Nowak, 1994) and fix pollutants including O3, S02, N02, CO, and PM10 (Chaparro and Terradas, 2009). All four cities encourage the inclusion of green infrastructure into the urban fabric as a strategy for tackling CO2 emissions. The adaptation of infrastructure within city-regions can also reduce energy consumed in the construction, transportation and disposal processes, thus reducing CO2 emissions. It is estimated that smart adaptive building in Amsterdam could save 300,000 tonnes CO2 per annum.

Resource sufficiency

Urban resource sufficiency is also affected by the three circular actions. Localised looping actions reduce resource wastage and increase the supply of resources within the city. For example, in Paris efforts are being made to recycle soil waste locally. The sol-dating platform recovers more than 30,000 m3 of soil in the Ile- de-France region, creating an alternative to the distant supply of topsoil. Thus, the city can become soil-secure. Nutrient recovery from residual food in Amsterdam, for reuse (by restaurants or foodbanks) or composting, will capture 95% of the nutrients lost currently. The power-to-protein project extracts ammonia from sewage, and could reduce Amsterdammer’s reliance on external protein sources. These strategies can help to tackle food security.

The recycling of grey-water and black-water, as demonstrated in De Ceuvel and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, can also reduce the consumption of potable water. This can help to tackle water security in water scarce environments. The ecocycles system in Stockholm reduces the city’s reliance on external energy sources, thus increasing energy security. Regenerating local ecosystems also enables the local production of raw materials, food and energy. This reduces the need to import resources and is being encouraged in all four cities. For example, local urban agriculture is supported by Incredible Edible in London and Paris Cul- teurs in Paris. Sufficiency helps all four cities to become more resilient to resource insecurities. Also, introducing urban agriculture and energy generation into the city reduces the land-take for food and energy uses beyond the city-limits.

Adapt to environmental change

Adaptive capacity may be built within communities, enabling inhabitants to self-organise to tackle both climate adaptation and mitigation. This was the case in Transition Town Brixton. The movement bought people together in the area to create their own solutions/’ This was coordinated by Transitions Town and mobilised through the local currency and allocation of space. These community actions strengthened and expanded social and learning networks, increasing the capacity of the community to self-organise and act. The variety of projects and the local currency were key to engaging a wider section of the community.

Urban form and infrastructure also enable the cities to adapt to climate change. The inclusion of blue-green infrastructure in all four cities was highlighted as being instrumental in climate change adaptation (e.g. urban cooling, flood management). In Stockholm and Amsterdam new developments have also been designed to adapt to sea-level rise. Increasing resource security in Amsterdam (food, construction materials) and Paris (food, energy, soil and water) will also help them to adapt to climate change.

Increase environmental awareness

Regenerative and looping actions at a local level can help to renew society’s connection with the natural world as well as understanding of resource cycles and product life-cycles. Repair cafes (in Paris, Amsterdam, London), labelling of second-hand or refurbished goods (in Paris), food reuse cookery classes (e.g. Brixton Pound Cafe) all raise environmental awareness, change social practices and encourage looping actions.

The provision of green and blue infrastructure in cities can also help to reconnect people with their local environment (Collado et al., 2013; Ward Thompson et al., 2008). Indeed, community engagement in the restoration of green spaces and waterways (e.g. park conservation in QEOP, Paris Culteurs) raises environmental awareness and changes social practices. It increases environmental stewardship, environmental awareness and the value the public places on local resources. Green and blue infrastructure and the localised looping of water and materials have helped to demonstrate the importance of the human-nature relationship. The degradation of the urban ecosystem resulting from human behaviour is better understood when experienced locally. Off-grid solutions to water treatment and energy production (as used in De Ceuvel) provides the public with a better understanding of the impact of their consumption patterns.

The public may also engage in environmental behaviour for social reasons (e.g. solidarity, opportunities to socialise). People may become involved in food reuse projects (e.g. Brixton Pound Cafe, Freegan Pony and community fridges in Paris) for solidarity reasons. Their engagement is socially motivated, but it also reduces food waste. The public also engage in projects because of opportunities to socialise, for example, urban farming and repair cafes in Paris, London and Amsterdam. Yet engaging in these activities has environmental benefits. In both instances, an increase in environmental awareness is a by-product of involvement.

Social and economic benefits can also provide strong motivation for circular transformation and are particularly attractive to politicians and to the public. Social benefits can be subdivided into health and community benefits. Both are fundamental to the well-being of urban populations.

Health benefits

It seems that health benefits solely relate to regenerative actions. Put simply green and blue infrastructure can improve air quality, reduce heat stress and noise pollution and create spaces for recreation and relaxation, all of which have significant health benefits. Vegetation can reduce exposure to pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, O3, NOX, SO2, VOC and toxic metals) by directly removing or dispersing them. Barcelona’s trees and shrubs have removed 305.6t yr 1 of pollution from the air, saving health costs valued at €1,115,908 a year (Chaparro and Terradas, 2009). A study in Carlisle showed that trees could reduce childhood asthma by up to 29% (Carlisle City Council, 2011).

Green and blue infrastructure can also be used to tackle heat stress (Corvalan et al., 2006; Peng et al., 2012; Zoulia et al., 2009). Research has shown that during heat waves air quality is degraded and the concentration of pollutants increases (Corburn, 2009; Harlan and Ruddell, 2011). It is estimated that up to 12% of air pollution problems in cities are attributable to the heat island effect (Forest Research, 2010). The most vulnerable populations are the elderly and young children. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, are at greatest risk (Hallegatte et al., 2011).

Heat is also an occupational hazard, especially for outside workers (Kovats and Akthar, 2006). Shade from trees and short vegetation lowers temperatures (Bowler et al., 2010). Increasing the canopy cover may reduce air temperature by 1-3 degrees. Green roofs may also decrease heating and storm run-off (O’Neill 2009). Density and type of vegetation play a role in reducing temperature during heat waves (Meier and Scherer, 2012; Skelhorn et al., 2014). Deciduous trees have a greater cooling capacity than coniferous trees. It is estimated a 10% increase in green areas across cities could mitigate an expected temperature rise of 4°C (Gill et al., 2007).

Exposure to excessive noise is considered the second-worst environmental cause of ill health after PM2.5 pollution (WHO, 2011). It produces various negative impacts, ranging from the minor discomfort produced by sleep disturbance to serious cardiovascular problems. Noise is caused by transportation and industrial activity. Vegetation in urban environments can reduce noise by absorbing or diffracting it (Van Renterghem et al., 2015). There is also evidence that the presence of vegetation influences noise perception. Parks have been used to ameliorate the noise impacts of roads (e.g. Parc des Hautes Bruyeres, Paris) and airports (e.g. Buitenschot park near Schiphol airport, Amsterdam).

There is also a relationship between green space, self-perceived health and doctor-assessed diseases (Maas et al., 2009). Local green spaces (within 1 km of people’s homes) have a significant effect on mental and physical health conditions. This particularly affects children and people from lower socio-economic groups, who spend most time around their house. Studies in Denmark showed that those living more than 1 km away from green space reported poorer health and health-related quality of life. They experienced more stress than people living closer to a green space (Stigsdotter et ah, 2010). Pregnant women living more than 300 meters away from green spaces had higher blood pressure compared to those living closer (Grazulevicience et al., 2014).

Proximity to green spaces also reduced behavioural problems in children, with hyperactivity, emotional and peer relationships problems (Balseviciene et al., 2014). It improved working memory in children (Dadvand et al., 2015). Children with attention deficits concentrated better after a walk in the park. Green school playgrounds improved well-being and diminished physiological stress (Kelz et al., 2013), improved attention, reduced behaviour problems and enhanced factors associated with resilience in children of all ages (Chawla et al., 2014).

The provision of green infrastructure also encourages active lifestyles amongst the wider population (Janssen and Rosu, 2015). Active lifestyles reduce obesity and levels of stress and improve the mental health of those living in cities. Urban farming (at a variety of scales) can also help to tackle obesity. Opportunities to grow fresh food can help improve nutrition. Thus, regenerative actions increase urban inhabitants’ longevity, by improving their physical and mental health.

Community benefits

Circular development helps to build local symbiotic capital. Local circular activities strengthen social and learning networks, encouraging reciprocity and mutual aid within communities. This was demonstrated by the food growing and food waste reuse networks in London, Paris and Amsterdam. Circular activities build local expertise and skills (e.g. in Brixton repairing goods, food reuse, generating and managing community energy systems). They may also provide much needed physical infrastructure (e.g. the temporary reuse of empty buildings in Paris). Guerrilla gardening (London and Paris), nomadic animal herding (Paris) and waterway conservation projects (QEOP) can protect ecosystem services and natural resources. Finally, circular activities can generate local financial capital (e.g. urban agriculture, community energy, pop-up businesses in Brixton).

Circular development can help to stabilise and build communities. However, it can also result in gentrification, which prices out low-income groups (Dool- ing, 2009). This was seen in SRSP and QEOP. Gentrification could be partially addressed through the planning process by ensuring affordable housing and opportunities for low-income groups are included in the development (Rigolon and Nemeth, 2018). As local symbiotic capital grows, communities become more empowered. This can be encouraged through the allocation of space or funding for community projects. It can be sustained by creating local demand for the resources produced, possibly through the use of local currencies.

Circular activities also often fulfil essential human needs, for example, food reuse schemes (Freegan Pony cafe, cookery classes in Brixton, community fridges in Paris, Food-Cycle markets in Amsterdam), homeless hostels in vacant buildings (e.g. Les Grand Voisins) and renewable energy projects for social housing (e.g. Brixton Energy). All provide opportunities for social interaction alongside enabling access to food, shelter and warmth for the urban poor. In Paris, this is recognised and supported through solidarity policies. Community projects encourage the emergence of social practices which underpin circular development. The motivations for doing so are often social (rather than environmental), but the outcomes are the same. The projects also build the networks for learning and self-organisation critical for creating adaptive communities. This can be seen in Brixton.

Economic growth and jobs

It is widely acknowledged that circular economy can produce economic benefits. Transition to the circular economy in Europe could create up to 1.2 to 3 million jobs and reduce unemployment by around 250,000 to 520,000 (WRAP, 2015). It is estimated the circular economy could be worth as much as /N-29bn for the UK (Eunomia Research Consulting, 2016) and €7.3 billion for the Netherlands annually (Bastein et al., 2013). It could also create 10,000-175,000 jobs in the UK (Voulvoulis, 2015) and 54,000 jobs in the Netherlands (Bastein et ah, 2013) and 300,000 jobs in France (Ministry for an Ecological and Solidary Transition and Ministry of Economy and Finance, 2018). The economic benefits provide an important motivation for nations and cities to adopt looping actions. Some attempts have been made to calculate the economic impact of looping actions within specific sectors (construction and biomass and food waste sectors) in cities. For example, in London, it is estimated that circular economy could create 12,000 new jobs by 2030, of which 5% would be in the construction industry (London Sustainable Development Commission, 2015). Tackling the construction waste stream in London could generate economic growth of between /(3bn and _£5bn annually by 2036 (LWARB, 2015). The capital’s circular food economy could add £2-4 billion annually to GDP by 2036 (ibid). It is also expected that reuse, remanufacturing and materials innovation could add at least Xj7bn to the London economy annually (ibid). In Amsterdam, the circular construction sector has been predicted to produce €85,000,000 annually and 700 jobs. The organic waste (including food waste) sector is expected to generate €140,000,000 annually and create 1,250 jobs (ibid). These figures suggest the economic value and jobs created by looping actions could provide ample motivation for adopting a circular development pathway.

Similar studies assessing the economic impact of ecological regeneration or adaptation are not available. However, we know that the employment opportunities created by ecological regeneration are wide-ranging and reflect the ecosystem services provided (ten Brink et al., 2017). Thus, employment opportunities may emerge in conservation, urban forestry and agriculture, gardens and park management, water management, carbon sequestration, recreation, health and tourism, education, research and development. However, it is very difficult to calculate the economic value generated by the management of ecosystems services (Gomez-Baggethun and Barton, 2013). This is because the economic benefit of ecosystem services is often calculated in terms of the costs avoided (i.e. health, insurance costs) rather than the economic value of businesses engaged in ecological regeneration.

Adaptive actions are similarly broad in terms of the employment opportunities created, connected with urban resilience,4 the pop-up economy, adaptive infrastructure5 and co-provision. Thus, it is difficult to enumerate the worth of these actions or the number of jobs created. What is clear is that circular actions will create new economic opportunities across primary (forestry and farming), secondary (manufacturing), tertiary (service) and quaternary (R&D) sectors. This produces new income streams and a diversity of employment opportunities, requiring equally diverse skills. So moving towards circular development could create a more inclusive and stable economy. The broader industrial base could help to increase long-term economic security. More research is needed to quantify these benefits.

Economic efficiency

Looping and adaptive actions can remove redundancies in the urban system by eliminating waste. For example, in designing flexible buildings we can avoid the resource costs (materials and energy) of demolition and construction. Circle Scan calculated that smart (adaptive) design approaches could generate 100 jobs and create a value of €12,000,000 per annum for Amsterdam (Bastein et al., 2013). Equally, recycling (the materials or components) or reusing infrastructure avoids resource wastage and associated costs. Circle Scan calculated recycling and reuse of construction materials could generate 200 jobs and create a value of €23,000,000 per annum (ibid).

Increasing efficiencies in the supply and production processes by reusing or recycling “waste” resources also reduces financial cost. For example, the sol- dating platform in Paris halved inert soil management costs. In Amsterdam, it is estimated that food reuse could create an economic value of €30,000,000 and 150 jobs per annum (ibid). Grey-water reuse can also offer indirect benefits to public infrastructure costs in the form of reduced sewerage flows, reduced treatment plant size, shorter distribution systems and reduced potable water demand.

TABLE 8.1 Economic accounts for the ecosystem services air purification, urban cooling and climate regulation




Economic value estimates

Valuation model






Avoided costs (UFORE)

Chaparro and Terradas (2009)


$9.2 m

Avoided costs (СВАТ)

McPherson et al. (1997)


$1.48 m ($16/tree)

Willingness to pay

McPherson et al. (1997)


$28.7 m

Avoided costs

Scott et al. (1998)


$3.9 m/year

Avoided costs

Nowak et al. (2007)





$15/tree (cooling)

Avoided costs (СВАТ)

McPherson et al. (1997)


$10/tree (heating)

Avoided costs (СВАТ)

McPherson et al. (1997)





Avoided costs (СВАТ)

McPherson et al. (1999)


$ 9.8 in

Avoided costs (UFORE)

Nowak et al. (2007)

Source: Adapted from Gomez-Baggethun and Barton (2013).

It can help prolong the need for additional potable water sources (Radclitf, 2003). A study found that Brisbane City Council could realise waste-water treatment savings up to $42,000,000 per year if grey-water reuse systems were introduced into urban areas (Jeppesen and Solley, 1994).

Ecological regeneration can help to avoid costs (Table 8.1). It can reduce the economic costs which arise from health problems related to loss of ecosystem services. For example, it is possible to avoid the health costs of treating cardiovascular, respiratory and mental health problems created by air pollution and noise (ibid) by introducing green walls into urban environments. Vegetation regulates urban heating and thus avoids additional energy costs in the summer season. Land-use change in urban water-catchments, particularly the loss of trees, can lead to the construction of costly water purification plants and flood alleviation measures (Daily and Ellison, 2012). In 2018, flooding caused S82 billion of economic damage globally. Thus, loss of ecosystem services in urban areas has a significant economic cost (De Groot et al., 2010).

Enhancing the value of real estate

Circular development contributes to the improvement of local environments, resulting in economic revitalisation, activation of vacant spaces and increase in land and property values. The ecological regeneration of neighbourhoods through the provision of blue-green infrastructure often increases land and property values

(De Groot et al., 2013; Okvat and Zautra, 2011; Roy et al., 2012). A rigorous analysis of hundreds of New York City gardens demonstrated that opening a community garden has a statistically significant positive impact on the sales prices of properties within 1,000 feet of the garden (Voicu and Been, 2008). This is an impact which increases over time and is greatest in disadvantaged neighbourhoods (ibid). Increase in land and property value also boosts the yield from local tax revenue. Greening neighbourhoods produces the upgrade effect. Thus, surrounding neighbourhoods also introduce green infrastructure into the living environment, setting off a cycle of improvement, which spreads to all sectors of the community (Hall, 2011).

Adaptive actions, particularly the temporary reuse of space, can result in economic revitalisation and boost real estate value (Madanipour, 2018). At the very least temporary activities are a productive use of empty space. Temporary spaces also provide access to low-value uses in competitive economic environments (ibid). These activities promote a perception of vibrancy, which can quickly create interest in abandoned or stalled development sites. This increases their visibility and agency within a neighbourhood (Nemeth and Langhorst, 2014). This process extracts latent value from temporarily disused sites (Bishop and Williams, 2012). It becomes a valuable urban model, which reduces economic risk, unlocks potential of sites and generates a capital flow, which “does not come into conflict with the immobility of real estate” (ibid). It is argued that temporary projects can lead the way in promoting the “innovation, fluidity and flexibility” needed in twenty-first-century cities (ibid). However, the gentrification process associated with increasing value can also result in social exclusion (e.g. QEOP and SRSP).

Local economic benefits

Circular actions can also produce localised economic benefits. The low value of residual resources requires resource loops are closed locally (as demonstrated by Circle Scan, Amsterdam). Thus, residual resources are reused, recycled, composted or energy is recovered locally, to maximise economic return and ensure economic viability. In Paris, organic waste is converted into compost and used to upgrade soil which is reused locally or to produce biogas which is injected into the local energy system. Capturing value locally helps to grow and diversify the local economy.

Ecological regeneration results in improvement in the local living environment which has a range of benefits (health, well-being, aesthetic attractiveness). This increases the value of local real estate and tax revenue collected, which can be spent on improving local infrastructure and services. Thus, ecological regeneration can produce a virtuous loop. However, the increasing value of real-estate can also create social exclusion. We have observed this in QEOP (London) and SRSP (Stockholm) sites where local people are relocated or priced out of the housing market. Rising real-estate values will also reduce the opportunities for other low-value circular activities, except on temporary sites.

Ecological regeneration enables the production of resources locally - clean water, soil, food - which may expand and diversify the urban economy. This is exemplified by Paris, which aims to increase local food production in the city-region. It can also increase inclusivity, offering employment opportunities to people with a range of skills and economic means. However, in some instances land prices exclude community enterprises. This is an issue in Paris, where community agriculture occurs on small temporary sites, over-shadowed by the large- scale commercial alternatives.


This chapter begins to provide an evidence base for adopting circular development in cities (Figure 8.1). Circular development produces environmental, community, health and economic benefits. Ecological regeneration produces the greatest number and most diverse set of benefits. These are complemented and amplified by the benefits accrued from looping and adaptive actions. Attempts have been made to measure and quantify some of the benefits; however, the data is currently very limited. The benefits emerging from taking circular actions have been investigated separately. Yet systemic thinking suggests these actions will interact and new synergistic benefits (and conflicts) may emerge. More research quantifying the benefits, identifying the synergies and conflicts arising from adopting circular development is needed.

There is potential for the inequitable sharing of the benefits, derived from circular actions, across society. For example, access to green space is often restricted amongst poorer urban groups, who live in high-rise blocks or higher density social housing developments. Yet the health benefits of locally accessible green space to these groups are greatest, because they tend to remain in their local area. This inequality is compounded by the fact that the maintenance of public green spaces is increasingly becoming a problem, with limited public funding. Thus, public green spaces are lost or poorly maintained, which further limits access to the urban poor.

“Green gentrification” increases land and property values, which excludes lower-income groups. The inclusion of green technologies (which generate renewable energy, reuse grey-water and heat or increase energy efficiency) and green space into new developments reduces affordability. Yet the socially excluded could benefit most from green space and affordable utilities. The case studies also show that the “solidarity” circular activities (e.g. food reuse cafes, community urban farms and the provision of temporary accommodation for the homeless) which particularly benefit the urban poor are more likely to fail, because they are not commercially viable.

It is predicted that circular economy will provide a variety of new job opportunities for a range of skills sets. However, it is more likely that lower-income and poorly educated groups will be employed in activities which could be detrimental to their health (e.g. recycling e-waste). Without educational and training programmes these groups will continue to be excluded from the highly skilled

Benefits of circular development. Source

FIGURE 8.1 Benefits of circular development. Source: Authors own produced by Draught Vision Ltd.

circular jobs. Finally, the adaptive capacity amongst low-income groups is likely to be less. This is because they have neither the financial nor human capital to self-organise and adapt to changes in their environment. This makes low-income groups more vulnerable to change, which could have detrimental impacts on them. The potential social inequalities resulting from taking a circular approach to development require further investigation.

However, it could be argued that these problems result from political decisions made relating to circular development pathways. For example, the recycling of e-waste can be regulated to remove harmful health impacts. Government can provide public funding to support the maintenance of public green spaces, the inclusion of green technology in social housing and solidarity projects. Land could be designated for green space and other circular activities within low- income communities. All these problems could be tackled given the political will, through greater public funding, allocation of public land and regulation (as demonstrated in Paris). Nevertheless, the more comprehensive monitoring of benefits and disbenefits of adopting circular development, across social groups, can help to enable more informed policy choices.


  • 1 Ecosystem services include support, regulating, provisioning and cultural services.
  • 2 Cultural ecosystem services include spiritual or religious enrichment, cultural heritage, recreation and tourism, aesthetic experience.
  • 3 Projects include generating renewable energy, growing food, recycling goods and reusing food waste.
  • 4 Monitoring and early warning systems; disaster planning; risk assessment and insurance; communications and the building of action networks.
  • 5 Engineering and design, construction, management and maintenance.
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