A5 Beyond waste management

Bringing the circular economy to the local level
20 Jun 2018
11:00 - 12:30

A5 Beyond waste management

According the World Bank, cities produced about 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste globally per year, a figure expected to grow to 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025, with 70% of that waste likely to be generated in emerging markets.

Waste is the most tangible externality of our unsustainable consumption and productions systems and one that increasingly resonates with citizens – and for good reasons:

28% of the world’s agricultural area is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted (FAO, 2016).

It is estimated that out of the approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste ever generated, only around 9% was recycled, 12% incinerated, and 79% accumulated in landfills or the natural environment (Geyer et al. 2018).

Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. On the current track, oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

Each year, globally, around 1 billion cell phones and 300 million computers are put into production, thus involving the extraction of precious and finite raw materials. Yet According to United Nations, only 16 percent of total global e-waste generation in 2014 was recycled.

Waste is not only extremely expensive for municipalities, often comprising 20%-50% of municipal budgets (World Bank, 2018), it is also detrimental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

From climate action, to fighting hunger and inequalities, to promoting sustainable consumption patterns and protecting our ecosystems, waste relates to most of the SDGs.  As the main producers and managers of global waste, cities have a key role to play in preventing waste and managing it in a sustainable way. A promising framework to do so is captured by the concept of the circular economy.

A circular economy aims at keeping resources in use for as long as possible to then reuse, repair, repurpose or recycle products or materials. How does this translate in cities?

The following questions will be addressed:

  • What are good examples of cities effectively preventing and managing different types of waste through circular economy initiatives?
  • How can this concept help cities achieve the SDGs and fight climate change?
  • How can cities collaborate with the private sector and local communities to apply circular economy principles?
  • What are the risks and barriers associated with the circular economy?


Darryl Young
Director, Sustainable Cities at the Summit Foundation


Clarissa Morawski
Founder, Reloop platform

Wolfgang Ringel
Senior Vice President Governmental Affairs, Tomra Systems ASA, Norway

Martin Héroux
Engineer – Specialized in residual waste, Ville de Montréal


Åsa Karlsson Björkmarker
Deputy Mayor, City of Vaxjö, Sweden

Igor Kos
Consultant, WCYCLE Institute Maribor

Mauricio Fernandes
Environment and sustainability secretary, Porto Alegre – Brazil

Wayne Walker
Councillor, City of Auckland, New Zealand