The potential of circular economy for reducing waste and reinjecting valuable ressources into economic processes has been recognised for a long time. Less attention has been paid to the different trajectories that circular economy can take: it can be implemented as a “New Industrial Revolution” and rely heavily on capital investments and technology; but it can also build on social innovations and investments in human capabilities.
In a recent study, OSMOS researcher Stephan Kampelmann has compared these two alternative paths for the case of up-scaling biowaste treatment in the Brussels region. He finds that decentralised, human-centered biowaste treatment offers clear social and environmental advantages and is only slightly more expensive. However, due to certain biological bottlenecks, Stephan recommends that the region should move towards a hybrid system combining polycentric community composting and industrial compost or biomethanisation units.
This work opens asks what technical solutions are available that could indeed enter into cities? Is this technology available? Who operates it? What kind of economical benefits are available? We will be looking into these questions and others in terms of re-industralising urban areas.
Source: Kampelmann, S. (2016). Mesurer l’économie circulaire à l’échelle territoriale: une analyse systémique des matières organiques à Bruxelles. Revue de l’OFCE, 145.*