LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
London is a vibrant, fast growing city taking a leading role in transitioning to a circular economy.
London is the engine of the UK economy, accounting for more than a fifth of the country’s economic output. Over many decades, London has evolved, resulting in an extraordinary web of distinctive residential streets, squares, markets, parks, offices, and industrial and creative spaces. It has a reputation as one of the most diverse cities to live in - arguably one of its most celebrated traits - and from the tallest building in London (the Shard), to the smallest (the ostler's hut), the city has an eclectic architectural heritage.
London has aspirations to be a zero carbon, zero waste city and to transition to a low carbon circular economy. This is part of a wider strategy promoting ‘Good Growth’ which is about working to re-balance development in London towards more genuinely affordable homes, delivering a more socially integrated and sustainable city.
LONDON IN NUMBERS
400 million tonnes
of materials are consumed by the built environment sector in the UK annually
of waste in London is generated by construction, demolition and excavation
of London's carbon emissions are directly associated with construction
CIRCULARITY IN THE CITY
The Greater London Authority's (GLA) London Infrastructure Plan 2050, updated in 2015, recognised the role that a move to a circular system could play in reducing the waste disposal infrastructure required. This document forecasts that London is likely to require only around 40 new facilities by 2050, in addition to London’s existing capacity. Most of them will be required to help reuse and recycle materials, predominantly repair workshops, disassembly lines and recycling and reprocessing facilities.
London’s first Circular Economy Routemap was published by ReLondon (previously LWARB) in 2017. This action-orientated document, developed in partnerships with stakeholders from across London set out the vision for a more circular economy for London. It identified the key challenges that needed to be addressed, examples of organisations and projects that are already working in this space and short, medium and long term action and policy options that set out how London can make progress towards its circular economy vision.
The London Environment Strategy published in 2018 further embedded the circular economy into the aspirations of the city, stating aims for London to be a zero carbon city by 2050, be a zero waste city and to transition to a low carbon circular economy. It outlines a range of strategic objectives, policies and proposals to transition to a more circular approach.
The circular economy was recognised as an integral part of ‘growing a good economy’ within the new London Plan (the spatial development strategy for London) adopted in 2021. This plan sets out policies requiring new buildings to be constructed to ‘zero-carbon’ standards, and larger schemes to be developed in line with ‘circular economy’ principles – minimising demolition waste and designing new buildings so they can be disassembled and the materials re-used at the end of the building’s life as well as requiring 95 per cent of construction and demolition waste to be reused, recycled or recovered.