Eliminate linear incentives and set goals and incentives for circularity - Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation
Eliminate linear incentives and set goals and incentives for circularity

High-level changes to policy and practice (such as taxation systems, investment and procurement guidelines and criteria) that disincentivize activities that perpetuate linear economic systems, as well as vision-setting (goals, roadmaps) to catalyze action on circularity across the city

Consists of:

🍏 Circular public procurement of food products and services

Local governments can act as the first movers, and accelerate the transition towards a more circular food system through integrating circular criteria into public procurement policies for food. Purchasing decisions by local governments, -such as buying food for canteens in municipal offices and schools-, have a large economic influence in the region, and create important market demand for circular businesses and products. Criteria within public procurement could, for example, prioritise regionally and organically produced foods, encourage the use of recyclable packaging and assess food waste prevention. Low-carbon and plant-based menus could also be developed. Used strategically, public procurement can be used to drive innovation in the sector to meet these circular demands,for example, new circular cultivation techniques and technologies, and low-impact food and packaging products.

🍏 Phase out landfilling of organic waste

When organic wastes are landfilled, the value and nutrients are lost and irrecoverable. Landfilling also causes additional environmental pressure, for example, the decomposition of food and organic waste in landfills emits greenhouse gases into the climate. Reducing the space required for landfills creates opportunities for better use. Local governments have an important role to play in the elimination of the landfilling of organic wastes. Municipalities with the legislative authority to do so can introduce legislation that bans organic wastes from being landfilled and fines non-compliance. Municipalities can ensure that municipal organic wastes are collected and diverted from landfill by mandating certain processing techniques, for example, composting or anaerobic digestion.

🍏 Targets and roadmaps for a circular food system

Current dominant, globalized food systems trigger far-reaching detrimental socioeconomic and environmental effects. As such, they struggle to meet the food demands of a growing population and face external shocks, such as resource scarcity, climate change and health crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Local governments are directly or indirectly connected to all stages of the food value chain. For this reason, it is importanto for them to leverage this strategic position and develop an initial and collective vision, setting out transformational targets, monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and key action areas and solutions urgently required to transform food systems—from food consumption and production to waste prevention and management.

👕📱 Public advertising to support circular behaviour

In recent decades, the advertising industry has played a significant role in building demand for consumption. By tapping into the psychology of residents, advertising campaigns are designed to build desire for new products and remind people to consume more throughout their daily routines. Many cities generate revenue from selling advertising space in well used public places such as bus stops, trains and squares. For many cities, it has become a part of the urban landscape. While public advertising may seem ubiquitous, many cities are exercising a degree of control over what is advertised and where to protect the public interest. For example, some cities are placing controls on the advertising of junk food to safeguard citizen health, and others have banned the promotion of air travel to reduce demand for emission-intensive holidays. Cities can, instead, use public advertising to promote circular economy initiatives within the city, such as ‘libraries of things’, second hand stores, repair cafes, or reuse hubs. Alternatively, cities can reduce the number of advertising locations around the city, or even ban public advertising altogether. Old billboards and other advertising sites can be opened up to the community for street art, notice boards or greening.

🏢 Circular public procurement for new buildings and infrastructure

Cities can directly support the transition towards a circular economy and emission reduction targets by leading by example through their public procurement activities. This is especially true regarding the built environment, as cities manage a sizable portfolio of buildings and infrastructure. Through procurement, local governments can help to develop the market for circular products and services, including circular materials as well as product-as-a-service or leasing models for building components (such as flooring, elevators and lighting). They can also manage the existing and future building stock in a way that contributes to closed energy and material loops within supply chains, whilst minimising—and ideally avoiding—GHG emissions across the entire life-cycle of procured construction materials and activities. Local governments have several levers at their disposal: investing in renovation and maintenance work, retrofitting and repurposing (if necessary) existing building stock to avoid new construction, and specifying circular criteria in public tenders for the design, construction and management of buildings. These criteria could, for instance, include mandatory requirements for the use of secondary or bio-based materials in new development projects, or specify design for adaptability, deconstruction and reuse. Additionally, the uptake of ‘green contracts’—agreements that require the contractor to develop and implement a site management plan and favour certain types of resources—can also stimulate circular operations by integrating circularity in the legal relationship between building owners, operators and users. Furthermore, to increase the use of secondary materials, local governments can deploy staging areas, in which recovered construction waste can be temporarily stored for reuse.

Relevant case studies and reports

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