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Creating a Circular Economy

Making better use of materials and resources to reduce waste and create environmental and economic benefit

Traditionally our economy has worked in a linear way, where products and materials are made, used, and then thrown away. 

In the West Midlands, we’re helping businesses adapt their practices so they can be part of the circular economy. This is an approach designed to reduce waste and pollution by reusing and repurposing products and materials that would normally be discarded.

As well as reducing the environmental impact of the economy, this also creates new opportunities and jobs in resource recovery, remanufacture and pay-per-use platforms.

We are  supporting our communities to deliver circular economy projects through our Community Environment Fund.

The West Midlands Resource Reuse Network

The West Midlands Combined Authority is seeking to assist businesses in increasing the resilience of their supply chains, increase business resource efficiency, and cut the cost of doing business. One way that this can be achieved is through engagement in an industrial symbiosis network. Industrial Symbiosis (IS) is the exchange of materials or services between businesses, involving the use of one company’s waste products by another company.  

The West Midlands Resource Reuse Network is a regional facilitated programme that will encourage and enable the sharing of waste and resources across the region, with a particular focus on sand, wastewater, and metals. Through a combination of site visits and events businesses will be assisted to identify and facilitate business opportunities to reduce these waste streams and deliver impact.  

To find out more about the project, and to sign up, please visit here 

The West Midlands Circular Economy Routemap

To accelerate the development of a circular economy in the region and celebrate the leadership that our businesses and universities are showing already, we have created the West Midlands Circular Economy Routemap in collaboration with partners throughout the region.

The Routemap identifies three initial priority sectors, where the region can accelerate the uptake of circular economy practises. The sectors identified are:

  • Circular Manufacturing – Building on the legacy of the West Midlands as the workshop of the world.
  • Circular Construction – Unlocking brownfield sites for development and embedding circular design in our construction developments.
  • Circular Food – Utilising our unique and diverse network of community groups to re-design our food system.

The Routemap identifies a number of opportunities for the West Midlands across these sectors, building on the existing work being done in the region.

Repurposing to Zero

"The most sustainable building is one that is already built"

Working with the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands, we have created a West Midlands Repurposing to Zero Framework. The Framework highlights the significant environmental, social and economic benefits to the reuse of existing spaces in the West Midlands, and outlines the practical steps that can be taken when approaching the reuse of buildings.

Compared to traditional demolish and rebuild, repurposing buildings leads to:

  • 70% lower carbon emissions
  • 10% reduction in cost
  • 15% faster scheme delivery

As well creating financial and environmental benefits, repurposing of buildings brings significant benefits to communities, as shared heritage is preserved and refreshed leading to a greater sense of place.

For more information the Framework can be found below:

One year of the Routemap

One year on from the publication of the Routemap, significant progress has been made in implementing the Routemap's priorities. 

Particular progress has been made in the creation of an Industrial Symbiosis proposal, to support our manufacturers in reducing waste, and the development of Zero Waste Construction Hubs, to facilitate waste recovery in the construction sector. 

More detail on the programme is included in the update paper. 

Innovation in the West Midlands

Find out how local businesses in the region are already innovating in this area in our guide, Kickstarting the West Midlands’ Circular Economy. Examples include:

Aceleron – a Birmingham based developer of sustainable and reusable batteries

Interface – a Birmingham based commercial flooring company that offers 100% carbon neutral products

Paint360 – reengineering waste paint into a award-winning range of emulsion paints from their HQ in Cradley Heath

We need your help

We’re working with experts to help deliver a circular economy plan for our region, but we’re looking for your ideas too. If you have any thoughts on how we can make better use of our resources, email