The publication Urban Circular Economy (Stedelijke Circulaire Economie) offers the initial outcomes of the research. It gives an overview of the three scenarios, and ends with concept Urban Circular Passports for the Cities of Rotterdam and Antwerp.


The publication in Dutch can be downloaded here 

For this project, a methodology was developed and tested, which pushes forward a qualitative spatial development of the Urban Circular Economy.

For many citizens, circular economy does not seem to concern them, due to its focus on closing energy, waste or other cycles between larger companies. However, out of local entrepreneurship, currently an urban variant of circular economy arises. Due to this growing urban circular economy, citizens no longer will be solitary consumers of goods and services, but also users. How will this affect the daily life in the city and what will be the spatial consequences?

To start this research, the design team interviewed current urban circular entrepreneurs and got feedback from many early adaptors. From this, the design team was able to come up with three scenarios, illustrating what would happen if the current niche markets in the Urban Circular Economy would become mainstream.

The three scenarios are all an extreme effect of a specific relationship between customer and producer. Each of the scenarios starts from a shortage of materials. However, each scenario leads to a different ratio of urban dwellers compared to the products a person uses or consumes on a daily, weekly or yearly basis.




In the scenario ‘Business almost as Usual’ the customer is a circular consumer and owner of the products he/she buys and afterwards disposes. The sustainability of the supply chain (and goods) depends on the producer (Unilever, Colruyt). This scenario is closely linked to the strengthening of a circular economy between companies. In the scenario ‘Sustainability as Pocket Money’, the prosumer will still buy the product, but as the owner of the product he/she will rent out its temporary use (Airbnb) or lend it. (Peerby). When the product is at end of its lifetime the owner shall return it (Marktplaats) or sell the materials (Afval Loont). As more products are in circulation and being reused, the user will play an active role in the sustainability of the product and the supply chain. These two scenarios focus as much as possible on resolving the waste problem afterwards. The third scenario ‘Sustainability as Lifestyle’ goes a step beyond in trying to avoid waste at the source. Here, the user no longer buys the product but will, through for instance the establishment of cooperatives; regulate the use of the product from a supplier (Greenwheels, Cambio). Besides cooperatives, other forms of cooperation are possible. Again products circulate longer and at the end of their livetimes the materials are still reused as a result of which the user also plays an active role in increasing the sustainability of the product and thus chain.



In the publication, first the three scenarios were looked at on a theoretical level. For each of the scenarios several aspects were described, such as:

- the debate in society the new entrepreneurship in a specific scenarios causes or could cause

- innovations and bottlenecks related to the scenarios

- how much of the current household waste could be reused via new entrepreneurship,

- the effects on logistics due to different production, use of products or waste management,

- how amenities could fulfill a new role,

- the effect on public, collective and private space, and

- concluding urban development as a whole.


Bringing theory into practice, both Rotterdam and Antwerp were reflected upon. The project looked to what end the scenarios are integrated in the city and what the bottlenecks are (e.g. spatial or policy restrictions) for them to further develop? From this the concept Urban Circular Passports for both cities were given, showing their identity from the perspective of it’s most potential Urban Circular Economy scenario.


Urban Circular Economy is a project in the context of the Open Call: "Tinker with the city’s metabolism” of the Fund Creative Industries NL