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West Midlands’ Circular Economy Routemap

Building Enabling Foundations

Transitioning to a circular economy requires a fundamental shift in how we operate, how we think about industrial processes and how we design our products and services. This routemap has identified five enablers that support an economy-wide transition to a circular economy. WMCA and its local authority constituent members can take a leading role in implementing these enablers. These enablers can also be applied to wider programmes of work beyond the circular economy.

Policy & Regulation
Planning & Design
  • Encourage circular design and processes, particularly in planning.

  • Ensure consistency and harmonisation of policies across all local authority constituent members.

Legislation & Regulation
  • Introduce regulatory instruments that support the circular economy including better implementation and enforcement of existing and upcoming waste legislations.

Fiscal Incentives
  • Align taxation and fiscal incentives with circular economy outcomes.


Develop collaborative approaches to service provision amongst public sector bodies in the region.

  • Use public sector procurement to grow new circular markets and supply chains and to accelerate the introduction of circular goods and services.


Internal Processes
  • Implement internal governance processes within WMCA to assign roles and responsibility, allocate resources and monitor progress.
  • Plan within WMCA the delivery of circular economy strategic interventions identified in the routemap.
  • Act as a convenor of experts and key stakeholders and encourage knowledge-sharing.
  • Encourage circular economy partnerships and collaboration across synergistic sectors.
Business models
  • Encourage the adoption of new business and finance models to encourage circularity and innovation as well as increase regional businesses’ competitiveness.
  • Facilitate the development of circular products and services.
  • Support region-wide systems- thinking and industrial symbiosis.


Behavioural Change
  • Work with local communities, businesses and schools to demystify the circular economy.
  • Encourage a shift in societal thinking and behaviours amongst local communities.
Upskilling & Training
  • Ensure adequate training and upskilling is provided to public sector employees, regional businesses and supply chains in order to support a transition to a circular economy.
Business support

Streamline existing business support and ensure all businesses, including SMEs, can benefit from circular economy opportunities.


Soft Infrastructure
R&D & Innovation
  • Support innovation by de-risking the use of circular processes and providing seed funding.
  • Improve linkages between academic research and commercial applications.
Data and Digital
  • Use digital platforms and data technologies, such as 5G, to better track movement of resources and facilitate trading of materials. This should build on WMCA’s Digital Roadmap.
  • Use digital platforms and data technologies to grow a regional sharing economy. Create a repository of information on the circular economy.
  • Ensure logistics enable easier tracking and transport of goods and materials across various sectors/businesses and to enable a sharing economy. This should include enabling reverse logistics.


Hard Infrastructure
Physical Infrastructure
  • Invest in critical physical infrastructure (energy, waste and transport) to support wider transition to a circular economy.
  • Ensure access to financially viable storage facilities.
Shared Infrastructure
  • Invest in shared spaces for communities and businesses to encourage the growth of a sharing economy.

Circular economy enablers analysis Key findings

Enabling levers for the circular economy identified through:

  • 75+ documents reviewed for policy analysis
  • 60+ existing projects identified.
  • 35+ stakeholder engagement workshops.
  • 100+ people engaged across private, public and third sector.

Policy landscape in the West Midlands is fragmented

  • No significant policies in the region enabling circular economy at scale.
  • Circular economy is often only mentioned in waste policies, which mostly focused on recycling.
  • Policies need to push for circular design especially in planning.
  • Changes in national policies and introduction of New Waste Prevention Programme, Extended Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Scheme, bring new opportunities.

WMCA has an important role in facilitating collaboration and convening experts.

  • Public sector is not yet using procurement powers to leverage circularity.

Numerous business support programmes already exist.

  • Need to ensure SMEs can access support to adopt circular business processes and to develop circular products and services.

Insights into the sharing economy obtained from stakeholder engagement and household consumption patterns.

23%of household waste still goes to the landfill or is incinerated every year.

Households also account for 42% of gas consumption and 49% water usage in the region each year.

Existing community and volunteer groups need further support to scale up sharing economy activities.

Still a poor understanding of what the circular economy is. Wider awareness raising and behavioural change is required.

High concentration of higher education institutions leading on circular economy research.

Better linkages required between research and commercial applications.

Existing innovation programmes can act as catalyst for circular economy.

West Midlands benefits from legacy of the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP®).

Investment in critical waste, energy and transport infrastructure required to support a wider shift.

Ongoing region-wide investment in 5G is useful to support the transition to a circular economy.

Resource recovery and material exchange hubs are required.

Logistics are key. Better tracking and transport of resources needed.

France’s Anti-Waste Law (2020)

In February 2020, France signed Law No 2020- 105: Circular Economy and the Fight Against Waste. The law has provided clear targets
and therefore certainty for all stakeholders involved in transitioning to a circular economy. Setting clear targets for waste reduction and resource use optimisation is necessary. These must be accompanied by wider legislative and regulatory actions.

Circular Economy Primer (2020)

The Primer provides guidance for built environment professionals to embed circular economy principles into their projects and design processes. The Primer provides clear guidance and requirements to increase adoption of circular design. Routemaps should focus on sectors that have the biggest impacts and should be complemented with additional policy guidance and documents targeting specific sectors or aspects of the circular economy.

Enabling interventions: 2022 implementation plan

2022 will be an important year for WMCA and its partners to set the enabling foundation and map out strategic first steps required to accelerate a transition to a circular economy in the region. The table below presents the key target outcomes and potential actions WMCA and its partners should aim to achieve in 2022.

Useful Projects and SOENECS have proposed a potential implementation plan in Appendix 1, which is accompanied by a detailed matrix of the actions proposed (See Appendices 2 to 6). This implementation plan is one potential route to deliver enabling actions. Others exist based on the resources made available to deliver the routemap.

Implementation plan

Target Outcomes for 2022

  • Procurement and commissioning policies and processes pro-actively support a circular economy.

  • Circular design is incentivised in a harmonised manner across all local authorities and key partners in the region.

  • The region is at the forefront of embedding and implementing new waste regulations.


Potential Next steps and actions

  • Update WMCA’s Single Commissioning Framework.

  • Publish new procurement guidelines to support circularity.

  • Hold workshops with local authorities to pro-actively prepare for new waste regulations.


Delivery partners

  • City of Wolverhampton Council
  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Walsall Council
  • Sandwell Council
  • Birmingham City Council
  • Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Coventry City Council

Target outcomes for 2022

  • Sufficient internal resources have been allocated by WMCA and its Boards to deliver key actions set in this routemap.

  • A robust governance structure has been set up to support the delivery of key actions in this routemap.

  • The West Midlands becomes a first-mover in adopting innovative, circular business and finance models at a region-wide scale.


Potential next steps and actions

  • Appoint a Circular Economy Lead.

  • Establish a Circular Economy Delivery Board to oversee the delivery of strategic projects.

  • Work with partners such as ASG to express the benefits of new business and finance models.


Delivery partners

  • The advanced service group
  • UKMSN+
  • CLES

Target outcomes for 2022

  • he skills supporting a transition to a circular economy have been identified.

  • Funding provided by WMCA and key partners supports a circular economy.

  • A comprehensive behavioural change programme is ready to be launched to normalise the circular economy and encourage local communities and businesses to put a higher value on circular products and services.


Potential next steps and actions

  •  Add circular economy requirements for WMCA-led grants.

  • Commission a forecast report to look into circular economy skills gap, working with partners like the Great Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s Low Carbon Skills Team.

  • Include circular economy actions in the Energy and Environment Behavioural Change Strategy.


Delivery partners

  • Birmingham City University
  • Black Country LEP
  • Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise and Partnership

Target outcomes for 2022

  • Logistics are improved to support better recovery, movement and exchange of resources across the region.

  • Building on WMCA’s Digital Roadmap, digital tools, platforms and infrastructure enable a better collection of data and sharing of resources.


Potential next steps and actions

  • Publish recommendations to improve logistics, including the use of reverse and consolidated logistics.

  • Launch online repository of existing sharing platforms.

  • Align actions of this routemap with the Digital Roadmap.


Delivery partners

  • CFRC
  • WM5G
  • Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands

Target Outcomes for 2022


  • Energy, transport and waste infrastructure all enable a transition to a more circular economy.

  • Physical locations have been selected to recover and exchange resources, as well as to support a sharing economy.


Potential next steps and actions

  • Select location for regional Resource Recovery Hubs and financially viable storage facilities.

  • Launch an online repository and booking system for unused, vacant or idle spaces, whilst ensuring equal access to digital platforms.


Delivery partners

  • Energy capital
  • transport for West Midlands
  • Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Enablers: 2023+ implementation plan

Beyond 2022, WMCA and its key partners will need to continue to support and invest in the circular economy.

We have proposed a potential 2023+ implementation plan which identifies longer- term action for WMCA and its partners to deliver. This implementation programme can be accelerated depending on the scale of resources allocated to deliver this routemap.

This list below shows how selected actions, set across the five key enablers, complement one another and can help the region transition to a circular economy. It also provides key steps for the continued delivery of strategic interventions identified in Chapter 4.

The proposed actions are explored in further details in Appendices 2 to 6

  • Publish first progress report and update routemap.
  • Standardize data reporting and monitoring across the region.
  • Launch behavioural change programme.
  • Launch first Resource Recovery Hub.
  • Publish investment programme for critical infrastructure
  • Set up Social Venture Capital Investment Vehicle.
  • Set up Social Innovation Fund for volunteer and local community organisations.
  • Appoint trade body representative for businesses
  • Update local and regional planning policies in favour of a circular economy.
  • Launch a circular economy innovation competition.
  • Launch Circular Economy Training Programme.
  • Set up Circular Community Hubs as part of the social economy clusters.
  • Audit and analyse waste management contracts.
  • Launch new Circular Economy Clusters, Growth Hubs and Enterprise Zones.
  • Develop kitemark for digital sharing platform.
  • Launch an interactive, digital West Midlands platform to trade resources.


  • Create a network of Resource Recovery Hubs
  • Develop delivery plans for second tranche of strategic opportunities.
  • Set region-wide targets for waste collection and recycling.
  • Mandate take-back schemes and re- manufacturing in procurement.
  • Require mandatory use of circular economy statement and CD&E strategies.
  • Introduce mandatory use of Environmental Product Declarations.
  • Launch a buying club for local authorities to aggregate purchasing power.
  • Introduce circular requirements in outsourcing services.


  • Publish guidance on material stewardship across the supply chain.
  • Develop delivery plans for third tranche of strategic interventions.
  • Standardise use of EPDs with EPD- based contracting.
  • Implement use of Building Passports with a West Midlands Building Material Bank.