• Client: West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Collaborators: SOENECS | Metro Dynamics
  • Service:
    • Policy Advice |
    • Strategy/Routemap
  • Specialism:
    • Circular Economy
  • Sector:
    • Construction & Infrastructure |
    • Manufacturing |
    • Public Sector
  • Status: Complete
West Midlands's Circular Economy Routemap - front cover

Given our circular economy expertise at the systems scale and across different sectors, the West Midlands’ Combined Authority (WMCA) commissioned Useful Projects to develop a Circular Economy Routemap for the region, supporting their aim of spurring a green industrial revolution.

This Routemap aims to kickstart the circular economy 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 region’s existing strengths and expertise.

Our methodology began with baseline analysis and research. This involved undertaking a policy analysis, high-level investigation of the region’s material flows, and a place-based mapping exercise along with stakeholder engagement.

Creating the vision

Four clear principles were identified to underpin the vision for the transition to a circular economy:

  1. Setting the enabling foundation to support region-wide transition to a circular economy.
  2. Optimising resources.
  3. Establishing inclusive and green growth.
  4. Promoting innovation and collaboration.

Furthermore, five enablers were explored in the Routemap:

  1. Policy and regulation
  2. Governance
  3. Capacity building
  4. Soft infrastructure
  5. Hard infrastructure

The Routemap explored each enabler in further detail, proposing next steps and an implementation plan and identifying delivery partners. This produced four to five 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, supporting the decarbonisation of the Transport sector and optimising the use and reuse of precious materials and metals in the region.

Material resources

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 also 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.

The Circular Economy Routemap was the first step for the region. We have gone on to produce two business cases to help take forward the recommendations:

The WMCA continues to identify opportunities for circularity stemming from the Routemap.

West Midlands's Circular Economy Routemap diagram
WMCA Circular Economy Routemap - Material Flow Analysis Sankey
Back to articles