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Closing the loop for urban material flows

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CityLoops (Closing the loop for urban material flows)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

CityLoops is focused on driving 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 organic waste (OW). Six small to medium sized cities from six European countries, will develop a number of innovative tools and processes designed to support circular planning and decision making for public authorities and other relevant stakeholders, and implement 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 OW 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 18 months of CityLoops has corresponded to the Inception and Preparation phase. During this phase, the seven demonstration cities have focus on the development of innovative tools, processes and methodologies to be tested, together with detailed preparatory activities for the demonstration actions to be launched in the next phase. Implementation plans for 30 individual demonstration actions, spread across the seven cities, and both CDW and biowaste material streams have been developed.

Running alongside this preparatory work, a number of support activities have taken place:

- A methodology for conducting a sector-wide circularity assessment for the CDW and biowaste sectors has been developed, together with an online platform for storing, processing and displaying data. These are currently being tested by the cities.

- A comprehensive circularity definition and evaluation framework for the city context has been developed, based on a thorough review of relevant circularity evaluation frameworks and indicator sets, as well as circular economy and circular city definitions. This definition provides a series of strategic objectives for city administrations to use to operationalise their goals, and a list of indicators to be used to evaluate progress - covering both process and impact indicators.

- Stakeholder engagement plans have been developed by each city, following a preliminary stakeholder mapping process. For each of the planned demonstration activities, the plans identify relevant stakeholders and stakeholder groups, describe stakeholder engagement methods to be used in CityLoops and who is responsible for engaging the stakeholders. It further describes key risks and risk mitigation measures related to the stakeholder mapping and engagement process.

- A series of workshops have been carried out with each demonstration city over the Reporting Period to benchmark existing practices with circular procurement, and build awareness of the concept within the city administrations. A Circular Procurement Scan has been produced for each city, which included a series of recommendations aimed at embedding circularity into procurement decision making, identifying priorities, and opportunities for assisting the demonstration projects.
The project will advance beyond the state of the art in a number of areas:
1) Urban circularity assessment and integration into public sector decision making: CityLoops will develop 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 will develop 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 will develop 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 aims to develop 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 will be 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 will demonstrate, a) new and innovative practices around organic waste collection, b) innovative treatment techniques such as a new process of nutrition extraction with the use of electrochemical 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 will be 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.