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Closing the loop for urban material flows

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CityLoops (Closing the loop for urban material flows)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2022-09-30

CityLoops is focused on demonstrating the potential of small to medium sized city administrations in guiding the transition to a circular economy (CE), specifically in relation to two of the most significant urban material flows: construction and demolition waste (CDW) (including soil), and bio-waste. Seven small to medium sized cities from six European countries have developed a number of innovative tools and processes designed to support circular planning and decision making for public authorities and other relevant stakeholders, and implementing these in a series of ambitious demonstration projects. The project will then aim to upscale these approaches in the cities/regions involved and replicate them in other European regions.

CityLoops explicitly focuses on the implementation of demonstration actions in small to medium sized European cities, as representative of a very large proportion of the European urban sphere, which are less regularly involved in European projects. CDW/soil and bio-waste have been selected a) due to their significance in terms of mass and environmental impact, b) due to the potential for closing their flow cycles, and c) valorisation and the development of new business opportunities.

The CityLoops cities are strongly committed to embedding circularity within their decision making and planning procedures over the long term. To this end CityLoops will itself seek to embed these actions within a strong support framework, to optimise their long term impact. The support framework consists of the following support elements:
- Stakeholder engagement: the active involvement of key stakeholders in every stage of the project – from planning, through demonstration, evaluation and replication
- Urban circularity assessment: – developing and implementing a methodology to analyse circularity within the urban context and feed this into decision making processes.
- Circular procurement: to exploit the huge potential of public sector purchases to create markets for innovative CE products and solutions
The first 36 months of CityLoops cover the completion of the Inception and Preparation phase (by month 18), during which the cities developed a series of innovative tools, processes and methodologies, and a portion of the demonstration phase.

All seven cities are now engaged in the implementation of the 31 demonstration actions (17 on CDW and 14 on bio-waste), and in some cases these have been finished. Evaluation plans for each demo action have been fixed, and baseline and interim reporting data has been collected.

A series of support activities have also been taking place across the demonstration cities:
- All cities have completed sector-wide circularity assessments (SCAs) for the two material streams, and a methodology for a comprehensive urban circularity assessment (UCA) has now been completed, which will be applied in 5 of the cities.

- A series of workshops have been carried out with the cities to benchmark circular procurement practices, culminating in the production of circular procurement scans. A series of follow up workshops is now being planned. Ad hoc assistance to the demonstration cities has also been provided for specific procurement activities.

- The seven recruited Replication Zones have engaged in regular exchange meetings with their demo city twin, and study visits have been held, or will be held shortly in all demo cities. In each region, the collaborative learning networks (CLN) have been discussing regional upscaling opportunities.
The project is advancing beyond the state of the art in a number of areas:
1) Urban circularity assessment and integration into public sector decision making: CityLoops has developed a robust material flow and stock accounting methodology for European cities, included on an open-source and online data repository which will also serve as circularity monitoring dashboard of partner cities. Based on the quantification of flows and stocks, a circularity hotspot analysis methodology will also be developed to guide cities in their development of circularity roadmaps.

2) Stakeholder engagement – CityLoops has developed CityLab, a new and innovative circular urban planning platform for stakeholder engagement, citizen participation and dialogue, including a state-of-the-art 3D interactive visualization IT-tool for planning purposes. The project will demonstrate stakeholder dialogue as a key for circular procurement as well as for monitoring and evaluation of demonstration actions. Each demonstration city has developed Stakeholder Engagement Plans and Local Stakeholder Partnerships to ensure a structured process for stakeholder identification and engagement.

3) Innovative tools, planning processes and valorisation pathways for CDW & soil, and bio-waste – CityLoops has developed a set of innovative planning approaches and instruments to enable cities, companies and other stakeholders to upcycle, reuse, recycle and valorise CDW and soil. These approaches and instruments are being implemented at targeted large-scale construction and demolition projects in the cities to demonstrate and deliver impacts in the nexus between energy, soil, biomass, waste, recyclables and materials. For bio-waste, in four cities, the CityLoops project is demonstrating, a) new and innovative practices around bio-waste collection, b) innovative treatment techniques such as a new process of nutrition extraction with the use of electro-chemical methods for nutrient recovery and biochar as additive, c) jointly identify and implement business-opportunities for upcycling together with local business, start-ups and citizens and develop cost-effective value-added products such as fertilisers.

5) Circular procurement (CP) – the consortium aims to embed circularity into city demonstrator procurements to harness public purchasing power to create direct impacts and build momentum and scale by linking strategic public procurement decisions and implementation directly to the delivery of local, regional and national circular economies.

6) Upscaling and replication – the CityLoops demonstration actions are being undertaken within a framework designed to maximise upscaling and replication in the final phase of the project, and the city, regional and European level, through continuous stakeholder dialogue and workshops and the recruitment of a group of Replication Zones in other European regions. CE Roadmaps will be developed in each city, to complement specific city/regional upscaling plans for the demonstration measures. Replication plans will also be developed in each Replication Zone.