The West Midlands’ Combined Authority (WMCA) commissioned Useful Projects to develop a Circular Economy Routemap for the region, which will support WMCA’s aim of spurring a green industrial revolution. The Routemap aims to kickstart the circular economy in the West Midlands, by focusing on three priority areas that can catalyse socio-economic transformation: Circular Manufacturing, Circular Construction and Circular Food. These were specifically chosen as they build on the regions existing strengths and expertise.
The methodology began with baseline analysis and research. This involved undertaking a policy analysis, high-level analysis of the region’s material flows, a place-based mapping exercise along with stakeholder engagement. Four clear principles were identified to underpin the vision for the transition to a circular economy. The first is to set the enabling foundation to support region-wide transition to a circular economy; second is to optimise resources; the third is to establish inclusive and green growth; and the fourth is to promote innovation and collaboration. Furthermore, five enablers were explored in the Routemap: policy and regulation, governance, capacity building, soft infrastructure, and hard infrastructure. The Routemap explored each enabler in further detail, proposing next steps and an implementation plan and identifying delivery partners.
The Routemap has produced 4 to 5 strategic interventions for each of the three priority areas. Each strategy proves that, not only does the circular economy make better use of resources, but it has the ability to generate more economic and social value and create jobs for the region.
For Circular Manufacturing a specific focus was placed on transport manufacturing activities, as it accounted to 16% of resource input in the region. Additionally, it was recognised that the West Midlands has a unique opportunity to drive the growth of a competitive clean tech sector, to support the decarbonisation of the transport sector, and optimise the use and re-use of precious materials and metals in the region.
The construction sector is one of the largest consumers of resources and biggest producers of waste in the region. Hence, opportunities were found to exist in unlocking brownfield sites, embedding circular design, capitalising on new material innovation and deleveraging new delivery models.
Food was identified as the largest consumer of natural resources in the region. Both an agricultural and manufacturing hub, the unique landscape means that the West Midlands is ready to re-design its food system to a more circular approach.
It is acknowledged that the Routemap is only the first step for the region. The report outlines clear next steps that are to be taken by WMCA if it is to deliver the full potential that is offered by a circular economy.