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West Midlands’ Circular Economy Routemap


Context analysis summary

The context analysis confirmed that existing policies, strategies and key documents at the international, national, regional and local level rarely focus solely on the circular economy. When they do, they do not always provide specific steps, requirements or mechanisms that supports a transition to a circular economy. The circular economy is often mentioned as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support a transition to net zero.

A comprehensive policy framework is vital to help scale the transition across all sectors. Policies are but one lever that WMCA and its constituent members can use to scale up the circular economy (see examples in table) Additional levers for change such as procurement, governance, skills, finance, planning and innovation. These are explored in depth in the routemap.

It is worth noting that the national procurement framework does not have specific requirements pertaining to the circular economy. None have been identified at the regional or local level, which will be explored further in this routemap.

Example of policy framework
  • Attach circular economy requirements and conditions to funds and commissioning frameworks.

  • Use procurement to grow new circular markets. For example, create tax and procurement policies that encourage repair, sharing, resale and remanufacturing.

  • Encourage product policies that focus on high-quality design for durable goods and packaging.

  • Implement labour market policies including developing standards to support trade in circular economy goods, services and systems.

  • Review and update digital and data regulations across the region to support information sharing and progress monitoring/reporting.

  • Support harmonisation of resource classification, definitions in waste legislations across region.

  • Support harmonisation of waste collection and sorting policies across local authorities including disincentivise landfilling and incineration.

  • Lobby national government to mainstream circular economy principles into national policies and ensure cross-regional alignment.

Material Flow Analysis Summary

The material flow analysis provided valuable information as to which selected sectors consume the most material and/or generate the most waste.

The material flow analysis highlighted the need to focus
on resource consumption rather than energy flows or GHG emissions, in order to avoid duplication with other ongoing work in the region.

The housing and transport sectors explored in this baseline analysis showcased energy flows and were therefore less relevant to the routemap development. We therefore produced more detailed material flow analyses for three sectors: industry and manufacturing, CD&E, as well as food and agriculture.

The three chosen sectors also happen to capitalise on the West Midlands’ existing strengths in manufacturing, construction and food production. By adopting more circular processes, the region can unlock new, innovative business opportunities as well as additional value for local businesses and communities, whilst meeting their decarbonisation goals.

Example of policy framework
  • Change construction and planning policies to stimulate circular design.

  • Encourage regenerative production through product and formulation design, sourcing practices and agricultural, land-use policies.

  • Implement spatial planning policies to enhance material flow and create business opportunities such as industrial symbiosis.

  • Support and implement extended product responsibility and deposit return schemes policies to strengthen resource loops.

  • Adapt accounting tools and align taxation and fee incentives with circular economy outcomes.