MAY 2020

Impact Report

Metabolic is an ecosystem of organizations striving for systems change. Our  mission is to build a sustainable economy – a broad and urgent goal that no entity can achieve alone. Together with a growing network of partners, we’re working to equip organizations all over the world with tools and insights to catalyze this change.

See how we did in 2019.

Eva Gladek Metabolic

As we approach the midpoint of 2020, we can see that our organizational mission has never been more critical than it is today. People around the world have a more tangible understanding of the importance of resilience, and of the scale of challenges we need to be prepared to address as a civilization. 

Eva Gladek, Founder and CEO, Metabolic

2019 at a glance

117

Projects

18

Countries

24,859

Publication views

30

Cities

26

Industry clients

  • 117 Projects
  • 18 Countries
  • 24,859 Publication views
  • 30 Cities
  • 26 Industry clients

About Metabolic

Metabolic supports governments, businesses, academia, and NGOs in adapting to a fast-changing global context, while creating disruptive solutions that can dramatically shift how the economy functions. In all of our work – research, strategic advice, the development of tools, and the building of new ventures – we use systems thinking to understand how different sustainability challenges are interlinked, and to identify their true root causes. Working in this way helps us understand where it’s most effective to intervene, and where we can have the greatest impact.

Impact Strategy

Transition the CURRENT system

Attempt to transition the existing global system as rapidly as possible by working with influential decision-makers to drive sustainability stewardship and organizational change.

Build parallel systems

Build parallel systems based on principles that are fundamentally different to the current system, in the form of disruptive new ventures and pilots of new governance and finance models.

Six Transitions

To accelerate the global systems change we envision, we must collectively re-imagine and re-design our systems and institutions. Metabolic’s focus is on six key transitions, four of which are expanded upon in more detail in this report. 

Cities and Regions

Finance

Food and land-use

Governance

Products and Services

Mindset

Products and Services

Mindset

Cities and Regions

It is estimated that by 2050, 68% of the world will live in cities. Our goal is to work with others to create future cities that are regenerative, inclusive, and circular by design.

Gerard Roemers_Metabolic

We need to change the way we shape our habitat as a species. Cities need to reconnect to the natural systems upon which they rely, and become regenerative producers of materials, energy, and human prosperity.

Gerard Roemers, Cities Team Lead

We must accelerate the transition to sustainable communities by sharing methodologies, data, and creating open source tools – so that every city and its inhabitants can drive their own transition.

Tamara Streefland, Cities Program Lead

Our cities team focuses on four key outcomes:

Consumption and production systems

Sustainable urban consumption and production systems.

Circular urban development

New methodologies and guidelines for circular urban development.

Stewardship

Supporting city governments to become stewards of a circular economy.

Decision-support tools

Tools that provide insight into resource flows and facilitate circular decision-making.

In 2019, we worked with city governments, developers, architects, and other urban professionals on:

City and region-wide strategies

Area development

Policy support

Built environment design

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The City of Amsterdam is an internationally renowned hub for circular economy innovation. With Metabolic’s headquarters in Amsterdam, we have been fortunate to work with the City and its stakeholders on a trajectory of pioneering projects over the last six years. 

Amsterdam_dusk_1500px
2014
2015
2017
2017
De Ceuvel

A circular community hub

De Ceuvel is an award-winning circular economy innovation hub hosting a vibrant community and experimenting with technologies and processes to close urban resource cycles.

Buiksloterham

A circular neighborhood

For Buiksloterham, a 100 ha post-industrial site in Amsterdam North, we co-developed a vision, roadmap and action plan for the area to transition to a fully circular neighborhood.

Urban Mining

Mining the city?

Together with AMS Institute, we developed a method to assess the metal contents of buildings in Amsterdam, matching demolition to construction and promoting the circular use of materials.

Circular Tendering

Changing the rules of the game

With partners SGS Search, we developed circular tendering procedures to help municipalities, developers, and construction companies embed sustainable innovation in the city.

2018
2019
2019
2019
Monitoring Circularity

Measuring circular progress

Amsterdam has been engaged in the circular economy for several years and wanted to be able to systematically monitor its progress. We helped the Metropolitan Region create the right framework to do so.

REPAiR Tool

Geo-design tool turns waste into value

REPAiR is an interactive online application that maps resource flows in peri-urban Amsterdam, creating opportunities for circularity.

H-Buurt

Circular and socially inclusive area development

A circular and inclusive area development plan for Amsterdam’s H-neighborhood, demonstrating how sustainability and social development goals can strengthen one another.

Schoonschip

Sustainable homes on Amsterdam’s canals

With partners, Metabolic developed the sustainability masterplan for a cutting-edge community of floating homes in Amsterdam North. The project was unveiled in 2019.

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam has bold ambitions to become a waste-free city by 2030.

Building on the circular economy strategy we developed with the City in 2018, this year we worked with the municipality to develop a systemic food policy focused on a healthy, sustainable, and accessible diet for all residents, as well as a strong business case for an urban mining building hub.
Rotterdam

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam has bold ambitions to become a waste-free city by 2030.

Building on the circular economy strategy we developed with the City in 2018, this year we worked with the municipality to develop a systemic food policy focused on a healthy, sustainable, and accessible diet for all residents, as well as a strong business case for an urban mining building hub.
Rotterdam
Opportunities

Proposed interventions can help Rotterdam achieve:

%

reduction in food waste

%

reduction in packaging waste

%

of construction emissions prevented

0

tonnes

of construction waste prevented

Outcomes

The City has released a 2019 - 2030 circularity action plan to be implemented across construction, food consumer goods, and healthcare.

The City's food department is using an integrated sustainable food vision to inform future policy decisions.

The City's urban development team is considering a strong urban mining business case that promises reallocation of 11,000 tons of materials and savings of up to €25,000,000 in material value.

Charlotte, USA

Charlotte is committed to becoming the first circular city in the United States.

In 2018, we worked with the city to develop Circular Charlotte. To operationalize this strategy, we are currently working with city officials and partners to implement new business cases, including the Innovation Barn that will showcase circular practices in action.
Charlotte

Charlotte, USA

Charlotte is committed to becoming the first circular city in the United States.

In 2018, we worked with the city to develop Circular Charlotte. To operationalize this strategy, we are currently working with city officials and partners to implement new business cases, including the Innovation Barn that will showcase circular practices in action.
Charlotte
Opportunities

Proposed interventions can help Charlotte achieve:

103,000 – 145,000

tons of waste diverted from landfill

0

jobs created

0

tons CO₂-eq emissions a year avoided

Outcomes

Envision Charlotte partnered with Sealed Air, Coca-Cola Consolidated, and CATS to launch “Send Me On My Way”, a campaign to educate residents on recycling in Charlotte.

As a keystone of the five business cases outlined in the Circular Charlotte report, Envision Charlotte is creating a Materials Innovation Lab, which will be located in the Innovation Barn.

Charlotte is exploring business case viability and partnerships for the other business cases outlined in the report.

“We are thrilled to implement the circular economy strategy in Charlotte. The strategies outlined in the report will help Charlotte address key issues impacting the entire city – economic and social mobility.”

Marcus D Jones, Charlotte City Manager

Brainport, Netherlands

Brainport Smart District (BSD) in Helmond, the Netherlands, strives to be the smartest neighborhood in the world.

In 2018, Metabolic worked with leading architects UN Studio and partners to develop an urban vision for Brainport Smart District. Over the next ten years the BSD will develop 1,500 new homes and 12 hectares of business premises, characterized by the application of the latest technologies and knowledge in order to achieve the goal of a sustainable, circular, and socially cohesive neighborhood.

UN-Studio-Brainport-Smart-District-Autumn-Harvest-CopyrightPlomp

Brainport, Netherlands

Brainport Smart District (BSD) in Helmond, the Netherlands, strives to be the smartest neighbourhood in the world.

In 2018, Metabolic worked with leading architects UN Studio and partners to develop an urban vision for Brainport Smart District. Over the next ten years the BSD will develop 1,500 new homes and 12 hectares of business premises, characterized by the application of the latest technologies and knowledge in order to achieve the goal of a sustainable, circular and socially cohesive neighborhood.

UN-Studio-Brainport-Smart-District-Autumn-Harvest-CopyrightPlomp
Opportunities

155 hectares of new, circular, and sustainable urban development.

A new standard for area development, integrating circularity not only for materials, energy, and climate adaptation, but also for biodiversity, human health, and new economic opportunities.

Outcomes

BSD is working with Metabolic and partners to operationalize the BSD vision, starting with a plan for circular water practices within the neighbourhood.

The BSD urban design concept has won a 2020 Rethinking The Future Award.

Boulder, USA

The US city of Boulder is a community deeply rooted in its surrounding environment and committed to sustainability.

In line with Boulder’s zero-waste and climate-focused goals, we worked with the city to map local material consumption, waste, and emissions and develop a vision and roadmap for Boulder to transition towards a circular economy.

Circular Boulder_Metabolic

Boulder, USA

The US city of Boulder is a community deeply rooted in its surrounding environment and committed to sustainability.

In line with Boulder’s zero-waste and climate-focused goals, we worked with the city to map local material consumption, waste, and emissions and develop a vision and roadmap for Boulder to transition towards a circular economy.

Circular Boulder_Metabolic
Opportunities

Even a small change in circularity can have an enormous effect on Boulder’s overall impact.

$2.3 million worth of valuable materials are currently being sent to landfill.

Food waste is enough to feed close to 20,000 people.

Embodied emissions (nearly 1.8 million metric tons) are larger than all local sources of emissions put together (around 1.7 million metric tons).

Outcomes

A vision and actionable roadmap for Circular Boulder, co-created with the local community and City stakeholders.

The city will continue to engage the community throughout 2020 to prioritize actions and mobilize climate action, with a broader focus not only on managing waste, but also on managing materials.

“This report is one of the first steps in broadening the city’s focus from how we manage waste to how we manage materials. Boulder is a leader in waste reduction, however, in order to really address the climate crisis, the city needs to lead the way in implementing deep, systemic change through coordinated action to foster a circular economy.”

Kara Mertz, City of Boulder Sustainability Manager

Friesland, Netherlands

Friesland aims to be the most circular region in the Netherlands by 2025.

Metabolic has a long-running strategic partnership with the Dutch Province of Friesland, where we work together to inspire entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions, (social) organizations and governments to take action on circular opportunities.

Circular Friesland

Friesland, Netherlands

Friesland aims to be the most circular region in the Netherlands by 2025.

Metabolic has a long-running strategic partnership with the Dutch Province of Friesland, where we work together to inspire entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions, (social) organizations and governments to take action on circular opportunities.

Circular Friesland
Opportunities

100% circular Friesland, with plenty of employment and thriving, future-proof companies and organizations.

3 key focus areas: circular building, symbiotic agriculture, and green chemistry.

Outcomes

The birth of the Circular Friesland Association, founded by 25 different organizations: a major step forward towards a circular Friesland province.

40 frontrunners in circular business advised on how to innovate and scale up circular business.