Charlotte's circular waste strategy | Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation
Policy case
Charlotte's circular waste strategy

Charlotte is the first city in the United States to make a commitment to adopting the circular economy as a public sector strategy. In its circular future, all of the material resources that now end up in landfills will be the basis for Charlotte’s next industrial revolution. The city of Charlotte is currently landfilling around 88% of its waste streams, representing a large potential for revenue and jobs particularly for socio-economically disadvantaged communities. In order to improve this number, the city collaborated with Metabolic to develop a circular strategy. Based on best practices from the US and Europe, it suggests five initiatives centered on recycling and innovation. It is estimated that these five short-term initiatives can generate almost 500 jobs and divert around 15% of current landfill waste. Over the long term, Charlotte aims to become a regional leader in circularity to bridge social gaps and reduce waste.


The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, is currently greatly underusing its potential for utilising waste. Only 11.5% of Charlotte's waste streams are being recycled or composted, and the majority of the rest goes towards landfills that often disproportionately affect the poorer members of the community. The amount of waste being landfilled in Charlotte yearly represents a pure material value of roughly 111 million USD per year, not counting the economic potential of recycling operations.


Charlotte's city government has collaborated with Metabolic to create a report on circular opportunities in the city and, based on that report, formulated a strategy for a circular Charlotte by 2040. The report is based on best practices from the United States and Europe, particularly multiple cities from the Netherlands. It suggests the creation of an Innovation Barn that allows students to work on new ideas and startups, the recycling of hotel and hospital textiles as well as concrete from the construction industry, a new reward scheme to incentivise recycling, and the creation of a food recycling scheme using black soldier fly larvae to produce poultry feed.

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