Circular Cities

Cities are at the center of our current waste crisis but also have the opportunity to lead the transition to a circular economy.

The Challenge

As cities develop and grow, global urban waste generation is estimated to increase from 2 billion tons in 2016 to 3.4 billion tons in 2050 (World Bank). The traditional take-make-waste linear economy is overwhelming cities waste management systems, which are a critical foundation for achieving urban resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Too much waste represents significant economic loss, resources that cities could use to support their most vulnerable. Research shows that the circular economy offers a $4.5 trillion economic opportunity by reducing waste, stimulating innovation and creating employment (World Resources Institute). Hence, prioritizing a circular economy is an essential step for most cities that want to reduce the impacts of climate change and pollution, afford to provide the services their inhabitants need and make their cities cleaner, healthier and more equitable places to live. 

What we do

Many R-Cities cities have embraced the goal of building a circular economy, that is, an economy that produces zero waste and instead reuses or recycles its byproducts, as a key component of their resilience agendas. Despite the need for sustainable waste management, there is a clear lack of investment-ready, bankable projects that maximise economic, social, and environmental benefits. Cities are demanding innovative solutions that allow them to cope with the challenges of the future and drive inclusive economic growth, jobs and environmental quality. 

R-Cities is supporting cities to identify risks to and vulnerabilities in their waste management system and improve their project preparation in order to realize resilience benefits and build lasting capacity in cities. Resilience projects that incorporate circular principles can enable cities to maximize opportunities and achieve multiple benefits through their waste management systems.  

R-Cities works to advance circularity through:

News and Resources

Episode 20: Tackling plastic waste in our water featuring Chennai

Episode 20: Tackling plastic waste in our water featuring Chennai

Ahead of our Urban Ocean Summit in Chennai in June 2024, our Executive Director Lauren Sorkin welcomes Dr. Parama Roy and Taylor Maddalene on an interesting conversation about tackling plastic ...
Urban Ocean: Santiago

Urban Ocean: Santiago

Urban Ocean is helping the Metropolitan Region of Santiago identify gaps in its solid waste management system towards tackling illegal dumping sites to build urban resilience.
Urban Ocean: Surat

Urban Ocean: Surat

Urban Ocean is helping Surat identify gaps in its solid waste management system towards advancing zero waste circular solutions in the city.

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