Sunday, 25 April, 2021
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Sunday, 25 April
The Circular Economy: Spaceship Planet Earth, by Jamie Ounan
WHAT WE’RE SEEING AND WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
My son is at the age where he is obsessed by space and becoming an astronaut. Among other things, we’ve been watching videos and listening to stories from inside the International Space Station. The technology is incredible, not least how they have created a near zero waste system. This reminds me of every urbanist’s favourite uncle, Buckminster Fuller, and his analogy of seeing the earth as a spaceship with finite resource. He was one of the many early thinkers who understood that unless we act, or what is now called ‘go circular,’ it would be the end of our humble, beautiful planet Earth as we know it. We’re going from 7 to 9 billion people and unless we change, we will run out of ‘stuff’ (minerals and materials) or there will be a mass extinction from the pollution.
So, what to do? Starting at home, Inner Circle is launching our Leading the Recovery Series with SOLACE. The series looks at inter-woven, multi-disciplinary solutions to our towns and cities wicked problems post-COVID.
WHAT WE’RE LEARNING AND WATCHING
Recovery, decarbonisation and the Green New Deal, well-being, urban resilience, and the circular economy. These are the big topics of our day. And we knew the first session of our Leading the Recovery series had to be with our partners: the world-class Ellen MacArthur Foundation. I want every child to understand that the eponymous leader of EMF is at least as heroic as Neil Armstrong. Our programme kicks off this Thursday, 29 April at 11am, and you can sign up to watch here. This 60 min event will key into those big topics and will no doubt be useful for your strategy and delivery outlook. As a taster, we’ve made a list of a few of our favourite examples of the circular economy in action:
- We’ve been working on a few ground breaking examples, such as the Bunhill 2 Energy Centre which recovers waste heat from the London Underground for use in social housing.
- We’re also working with Camden Council rethinking the end-to-end process of social housing recladding and a re-employment system to accelerate the Green New Deal.
In the spirit of this newsletter, I also want to share some fun and informative lessons from elsewhere. Here are some other examples to learn from:
- The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has become the first borough in London to get a ‘recycled road’ made partly from old tyres that would once have been destined for a landfill site.
- Many companies are following circular principles from manufacturers like Caterpillar, to Apple, to fast fashion brands like Arket and interior furnishing companies such as Interface Carpets who were an early adopter.
- BioGen, who are a major food waster, implemented progressive recycle programmes that create gas and slurry for further crop growth. We know they are always looking for more Local Authority partners to use their capacity.
- Venlo Town Hall in the Netherlands allows for continuous material recovery and is a great singular building that is complete and still exemplifying cradle-to-cradle principles in operation.
- And finally, the city that’s going further than the rest is Amsterdam with a strategy that aims to halve the use of new raw materials by 2030 and to achieve a fully circular city by 2050.
WHAT’S GOING ON
As I mentioned, we’re hosting an engaging virtual session this coming Thursday, 29 April on recovery, transformation, and the circular economy. I hope you’ll sign up here to catch these incredible speakers:
- Wayne Hubbard, CEO of ReLondon
- Ali Moore, Head of Communications and Behaviour Change, ReLondon
- Joshua Newton, London Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Finally, I’m proud to share that our team are humbled to be finalists for Planning Awards 2021: Planning Permission of the Year, for the transformative Grahame Park Estate housing project in Barnet. This is a testament to our stellar partners: hgh Consulting, Patel Taylor, Notting Hill Genesis, and the great LB Barnet Team, and the tenacity this team has shown in overcoming complex barriers.