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Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 423;

Circular Cities: Challenges to Implementing Looping Actions

Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, London WC1H 0NN, UK
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 24 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development)
PDF [1995 KB, uploaded 15 January 2019]


Currently cities consume 60–80% of natural resources globally. They produce 50% of global waste and 75% of green-house gas emissions. The UN estimates that 66% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 while the global urban footprint will triple over the years to 2030. Thus cities, as a system of production and consumption, threaten the environmental sustainability of the globe. Looping actions—reuse, recycling and recovery of resources (materials, energy, water, land and infrastructure)—can help to address resource scarcity and wastage in cities. However, there are many challenges to implementation. Much of the literature explores the challenges to looping actions within resource sectors and for specific actions (i.e., challenges to adaptive reuse of buildings, recycling of material waste, energy recovery from sewage). It often does so without any clear reference to context. Nexus solutions are becoming a popular resource looping response to tackling wastage in cities. Some of the challenges to implementation have been explored, but influence of context has not been investigated. In this paper we explore the challenges facing the implementation of looping actions in cities. Using a mixed methods approach, we identify 58 challenges to looping actions across eight themes. We also establish the challenges to implementing a nexus solution. The research identifies five common implementation challenges. Addressing these challenges could enable looping actions across resource types in cities. The research also demonstrates how context affects the challenges to implementing looping actions and nexus solutions in cities. Nevertheless, the analysis suggests that there are some common levers for promoting looping actions and nexus solutions in cities, regardless of context. View Full-Text
Keywords: resource looping; circular economy; nexus: recycle; reuse and energy recovery; circular cities; resource management; urban sustainability resource looping; circular economy; nexus: recycle; reuse and energy recovery; circular cities; resource management; urban sustainability

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Williams, J. Circular Cities: Challenges to Implementing Looping Actions. Sustainability 2019, 11, 423.

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