27 August 2021

ICLEI members make circular economy hot topic in Southern Europe

ICLEI recently welcomed Murcia (Spain) as its newest member. The Spanish city is one of the 29 ICLEI Members who can also proudly call themselves a signatory of the Circular Cities Declaration (CCD). The City is currently working on a number of projects, including CityLoops, an ICLEI coordinated project, to reduce waste by recovering and maintaining value. In addition, the City will organise its first Circular Economy Fair taking place 18-24 October where a new Circular Economy Strategy for the municipality will be launched. Murcia is making the circular economy a hot topic in Southern Europe.

CCD signatories recognise the need for accelerating the transition from a linear to a circular economy in Europe, and commit to use all the levers at their disposal to work towards that transition. Furthermore, they commit to act as ambassadors and champion a circular economy that leads to a resource-efficient, low-carbon and socially responsible society, in which resource consumption is decoupled from economic growth.

All over Europe, cities have realised that their linear economies need to transform and the positive consequences this would bring for both citizens and businesses. While signatory cities in Northern Europe have impressive track records with circular economy initiatives, several partner cities all over Europe are creating innovative projects to share knowledge and integrate circular economy strategies into their urban policies.

Regarding trends in circular economy in Europe, Kaitlyn Dietz, Officer for Circular Economy at ICLEI Europe says,“We see a great acceleration in circular economy implementation projects at the local and regional scale all across Europe - a very welcome and necessary development to respond to the climate crisis, while supporting the local economy and wellbeing, which has become all the more relevant in covid recovery. Moreover, actions are increasingly taking a systemic and strategic approach, integrating pilot demonstrations into a wider picture of resource management and sustainable lifestyles.”

In Portugal, ICLEI Members and CCD signatories, Águeda, Braga, Guimaraes and Torres Vedras, are integrating circular economy in their public procurement practices, offering composters and recycling bins to citizens, developing and implementing green waste valorisation, and promoting behavioural change among citizens for more sustainable consumption.

In the Balkans, ICLEI Member Tirana (Albania) has been working on initiatives to open up public spaces, increase pedestrian and green areas and add bicycle lanes in order to promote a healthier and more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. In the Metropolitan Forest, two million trees will soon be planted around the city in a ring of parks, forests, and agricultural land. In Bulgaria, ICLEI Member Burgas is working together with market players on the Blue Label Standard, which will soon be awarded as a mark of quality to restaurants and entertainment, and other businesses in order to reduce the use of disposable plastics.

The Slovenian ICLEI Member cities of Maribor and Ljubljana are utilising the circular economy as a tool to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ljubljana aims to maintain the value of its resources for as long as possible through reuse, restoration, and recycling, which not only saves, but improves local society and the environment. The City of Maribor takes a more systemic implementation approach with the establishment of WCYCLE Institute, a public sector joint platform for the development of the circular economy.

Further north, ICLEI Member and Hungarian capital Budapest is generating electricity from sewage sludge and food waste at local sewage treatment facilities. The City is also investigating the possibility of turning the huge quantity of collected green waste into biogas and energy for local usage.

These cities highlight that progressive circular and sustainable policies are no longer the sole domain of early adopter cities in the North. “Circular actions can vary widely in sector and scope, but share the underlying objective of eliminating waste and creating value by making good use of existing resources. The community of 59 CCD signatories - from small towns to capital cities, covering all corners of the continent - continuously inspire one another with replicable, scalable solutions,” says Dietz.

ICLEI Europe congratulates the hard work on circular economy from Cities all over Europe and looks optimistically towards further circular economy initiatives from its newest Southern European signatories of the Circular Cities Declaration.

To find out more about the CCD and the latest actions by its signatories, visit.