London gears up for Circular Economy Week

London’s Circular Economy Week (#CEWeekLDN2020) will take place this week from 1-5 June to build momentum and share knowledge about how the circular economy can help tackle the climate emergency.

The focus this year is on cities and how they can reduce CO2e emissions from the production and use of products and materials.

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB)’s third #CEWeekLDN is taking place amidst growing calls to ‘build back better’ after the coronavirus crisis and brings together leaders and innovators from around the globe to consider ways of building more resource-efficient and resilient cities.

45% of global carbon emissions come from producing the cars, clothes, food, and other products we use every day, so applying circular economy principles to transform the way goods and materials are made, used and disposed of is essential to tackling the climate crisis.

Just 8.6% of the 100 billion tonnes of raw natural materials which entered the global economy were reused last year, but circular strategies could reduce global CO2e emissions by 40% – or 3.7 billion tonnes – by 2050, if applied to the production and use of cement, steel, plastic and aluminium.

We need a profound shift to create a more resource-efficient and resilient economy to help meet climate targets – and the time is now to seize the opportunity.

Circular economy is even more relevant than ever in the current crisis, and the systems approach that underpins it is central to rethinking the challenges of climate change, shortening supply chains and reducing our vulnerability to market shocks like Covid-19. It can also support the creation of higher quality jobs and promote more connected communities.

In London alone, transitioning to a circular economy could achieve a 60% reduction in the city’s waste and by 2036 could provide £7 billion-worth of benefits every year in the sectors of built environment, food, textiles, electricals and plastics. 

Now in its third year, Circular Economy Week will feature a wide range of online discussions, community conversations and round tables, with a focus on:

  • Innovation in cities– how to build collaborative networks for change and accelerate progress at a national, regional and city level
  • Financing the circular economy– how London’s finance sector can help to accelerate circular economy, foster innovation and invest in sustainable businesses
  • Individual behaviour change– encouraging climate-friendly behaviours, the role of citizens in creating demand for circular products and services, and translating climate change anxiety into personal action

Businesses, policy makers and NGOs from across London and beyond will take part in more than 30 virtual events to help drive a circular, more resource-efficient economy. Innovators and leaders from cities including Barcelona, Toronto, Sao Paulo and Glasgow will all contribute and a range of partners are supporting the week.

“Profound shift”

Wayne Hubbard, Chief Executive at London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), said: “The world has woken up to the climate crisis – and there is growing awareness among policy makers, businesses and consumers that our ‘take, make, dispose’ model isn’t working.

“We need a profound shift to create a more resource-efficient and resilient economy to help meet climate targets – and the time is now to seize the opportunity. As we start our recovery from the coronavirus crisis, we have a major opportunity to build back better.” 

“This isn’t a choice between the environment and the economy: but it is a choice between the old linear, wasteful economy, and the new resilient and sustainable circular economy. Circular approaches can minimise waste and ensure a more sustainable use of resources, benefitting businesses and building a stronger economy.

A growing number of organisations and individuals are already responding to this need, which is why it is essential to bring leading thinkers and innovators together through forums such as Circular Economy Week.” 

Consumers are increasingly dropping brands that fail to prioritise the environment. A survey of 15,000 adults across Europe, North America and Asia, published earlier this year, showed that 83% believe their purchasing choices can help to address environmental challenges – and 61% would drop a brand or product if it had poor environmental credentials.

Online events

Free events taking place across the week include: 

  • A virtual launch conference on Monday 1 June, uniting city leaders from around the world to share best practice on how cities are using circular economy approaches to reduce CO2e emissions
  • A focus on built environment on Tuesday 2 June, including an online conference and hackathon on regenerative construction and circular buildings
  • Webinars on Wednesday 3 June bringing together behaviour change and campaigning professionals to share recent insights and successful behavioural intervention work
  • Panel discussions and keynotes on Friday 5 June to raise the importance of financing the transition to a low carbon circular economy

As well as running its own events, LWARB is encouraging organisations and individuals to get involved by running their own activities during the week.

To support this, LWARB has provided a free toolkit to provide practical steps on running an event.


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