How to create new innovation and production areas? The project Urban Circular Economy was presented and debated upon with peers during Metropool Forum 2o15.


Citizens are not concerned about circular economy because research on this particular form of economy mainly focuses on the larger streams that are running through the city like energy, waste, water and cycles between larger companies.

However, an urban variant of circular economy currently arises out of local entrepreneurship. Young entrepreneurs come up with new goods or services that push forward a recycle or a lease or share economy. For this purpose they are focusing on the small-scale personal needs of citizens (food, fashion or products). This process will change citizens, even beyond the status of consumers of solitary consumers of goods and services. How will this process of moving towards an urban circular economy affect the daily life in the city and what will be the spatial impact on the structure of the city? What if these young entrepreneurs grow from niches towards a mainstream market? What will be the influence on (public and private) urban development? And how will citizens get more involved in an urban circular economy?


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picture Fred Ernst


The designers (Lieve Custers for Buro Boris and David Dooghe) from the Urban Circular Economy project had interviews with several circular entrepreneurs from Antwerp and Rotterdam. These entrepreneurs focus on the profit that can be acquired from their consumers through sharing or leasing products instead of selling and/or valorising the latent value of domestic waste. In addition to the interviews, an interactive workshop was organized with a group of early adopters

This process resulted in three spatial future models that will be explored. Whereas in ‘Business almost as Usual’ the focus will be on making existing production more green with no or minor effort of the user, ‘Sustainability as Pocket Money’ will be about valorising the latent value of domestic waste (ex. upcycling, repairing) and in ‘Sustainability as Lifestyle’ the community aspect, leasing and sharing will be the main.

The main lesson the Metropool Forum public took home was that Urban Circular Economy is not the panacea. There are several future scenarios possible and we currently do not know what will be their positive and negative effects.