We’re on a mission to transform Leeds into a Circular City where people and nature thrive together; a resilient and resourceful place, with strong communities, where resources are shared instead of wasted, where skills are developed and jobs are created.
Why is this important?
Cities are wonderful places for innovation, culture, exchanging of ideas, education, building businesses and much more. But they’re also responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gases, 50% of global waste and where 75% of our natural resources are consumed. Much of this is a consequence of our linear - take, make, waste - economy.
In a linear economy, we take virgin raw materials, make things from them and when we’re finished using them, we throw them away. The problem is we are taking raw materials at a faster rate than they can be replenished and the waste we leave behind is polluting the planet, endangering biodiversity and causing climate change. Over 90% of all materials extracted and used are wasted and only 8.6% make it back into our economy.
There is a different way and it’s called the circular economy - and cities are a great place to start. The 3 principles of circular economy are:
Design out waste and pollution - avoid creating waste in the first place by using materials that can be reused, recycled or composted.
Keep products in use for longer. No longer used just once, they are reused, repaired and refurbished. People gain access to things they need - space, products or transport - through sharing rather than owning, connecting people to their neighbours and communities. Cities are planned so that materials flow.
Regenerate natural systems - so that valuable nutrients return to the soil and air and water quality improves.
What's wrong with a linear economy?
A circular economy solution
Our approach to practical circularity
We’ve been exploring practical circular economy projects in Leeds for many years.
We’ve been designing out waste and keeping resources in use for longer through our Leeds School Uniform Exchange project - a city wide initiative that makes it easy for families to share and access free good quality, secondhand school uniform.
We designed it to be a grassroots, community-led, long-term-sustainable initiative that reduces waste whilst also making uniform accessible and affordable for families. Over 90% of schools in Leeds are now covered by a uniform exchange - and over 12,000 items of uniform were shared in last summer alone.
Together for Sport is another local practical circular economy project that helps keep sports kit in use for longer through reuse and sharing. We convened sports stakeholders from across the city from governing bodies, the local authority, professional sports clubs to local clubs, community groups and parents to establish the best way to reduce sports kit waste. Our aim is for reuse and sharing of kit to be business as usual at all sports clubs in the city.
Leeds Winter Coat Appeal is another of our projects that aims to reduce waste by encouraging people to donate good quality coats that are sat at the back of their wardrobe. It links with our focus on finding innovative ways to reduce textile waste.
Empty Homes Doctor - a project we have run since 2013, that has brought over 900 empty homes back into use over that time. Doing this means we are making the best use of existing housing stock in the city and reducing the need for new housing.
Get in touch if you’re interested in exploring how Leeds could become a more Circular City.
The questions we’re asking are -
What can we do in Leeds to design out waste and pollution, keep products in use for longer, and regenerate natural systems?
How can people and businesses be supported to redesign, repair, share, reuse, remanufacture and do a better job of recycling?
We’re looking at the following areas - food, clothing and textiles, mobility, housing and construction, waste management, energy, culture, citizen engagement, consumption, business support and innovation.