Cleveland’s Approach to Closing the Loop through Collaboration

14/09/2022

The City of Cleveland is beginning an ambitious journey towards becoming North America’s leader in inclusive circular economy design and implementation. Together with local communities and supported by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP), PYXERA Global, the binational Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), Metabolic, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the City is working with local champions to lay the foundations for an inclusive circular economy in the Great Lakes region.

An industrial powerhouse with a strong reputation for hard work, resiliency, and regeneration, the city of Cleveland is now combining these strengths to become a leading circular city in the Great Lakes region, North America, and the world. The circular economy provides a framework for understanding how a city can support and restore the earth’s ecological systems, while building healthy, inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous communities. 

The City and CNP have launched Circular Cleveland, a 28-month initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to kickstart Cleveland’s transition to an inclusive circular economy. Cleveland aspires to become a circular city, offering a new economic model where production and consumption are in balance, fostering manufacturing and distributive innovation to support new local wealth generation opportunities, prioritizing health and well-being, and strengthening its sustainability and climate resilience goals. Working with Metabolic, PYXERA Global, and CGLR, CNP and local community members have published an actionable and inclusive roadmap of actions to support this transition. Launched in Summer 2022, the roadmap provides Cleveland’s changemakers with community-selected actions to start building a more inclusive and regenerative circular economy in the years to come. The roadmap draws on guidance from community members and circular economy leaders about how to put the suggested actions into practice over the coming years. 

The results of this effort include an overarching Circular Cleveland framework, a set of progress indicators, policy suggestions, and recommendations for strengthening regional collaboration on the circular economy. Taken together, these results provide a blueprint for strengthening local initiatives that are helping to transition Cleveland to be a city where resources are used sparingly and effectively to generate a maximum value of life for all of Cleveland’s residents. Already in Cleveland, community grants totaling $40,771 awarded by CNP to 14 local groups are helping to divert waste from the landfill, reduce pollution, keep products and materials in use, and restore and renew the natural system. 

To create an actionable program that aligns with local needs and allocated resources efficiently and effectively, the consortium has developed a multi-faceted methodology: The Cleveland Approach. This approach consists of three main components. 

  1. The project is rooted in the belief that Cleveland’s residents, organizations, and communities know their own priorities best. The creation of an actionable circular roadmap is therefore rooted in a participatory process, in which local and regional stakeholders share their insights and shape the future of their community. The Circular Cleveland project kicked off in August 2021 with a series of workshops on the circular economy and the value it can bring to Cleveland. The resulting input from community members about existing projects, local priorities, and hopes for a circular economy fueled the creation of Cleveland’s circular economy roadmap. 
  2. These priorities have been supported by data-driven insights. For example, Metabolic’s assessment of how energy, water, and materials are used and disposed of in Cleveland helped to identify where actions will be most effective in building a local circular economy.
  3. Cleveland is positioning itself within a global network of pioneering cities, drawing knowledge and best practices from circular cities worldwide through the Ellen MacArthur cities network, while inspiring other cities through the adoption of pioneering new circular approaches and activities.

“The analysis and community engagement process allow us to zero in on core focus areas or hotspots — topics of particular importance to the community,” says Andrew McCue, Circular Economy Consultant at Metabolic. “Drawing on experience from other circular cities worldwide allows us to build on existing knowledge to create the greatest impact in terms of resilience, health, and local green jobs.”  

In August  2022, the consortium  announced the launch of circular small business grants to support changemakers taking up the actions outlined in the Roadmap, in addition to another round of grassroots community grants. Circular Cleveland Ambassadors and soon-to-be-formed working groups will support the longer term implementation of this work.  Visit the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress website and Circular Cleveland Website for additional updates.

About Metabolic:

Metabolic works with businesses, governments, and non-profits around the world to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and circular economy. We advise organizations on how to adapt to a fast-changing international context, while creating disruptive solutions that can dramatically shift how the economy functions. We provide strategies and tools, crunch data, create new technologies, build pilots, and scale up innovations. Our approach harnesses systems thinking and data-driven analysis to drive meaningful, lasting change.

About PYXERA Global:

At PYXERA Global, our mission is to reinvent how public, private, and social interests engage to solve global challenges. We leverage the unique strengths of corporations, governments, social sector organizations, educational institutions, and individuals to enhance the abilities of people and communities to solve complex problems and attain mutually beneficial goals. Every day, we aim to create opportunities for purposeful global engagement, providing pathways for organizations and individuals to positively contribute to the global issues that will shape our collective future.

About Council of the Great Lakes Region:

The Council of the Great Lakes Region seeks to create a stronger and more dynamic culture of collaboration between the United States and Canada in the binational Great Lakes region in order to advance a new era of economic growth, environmental protection, and individual well-being by connecting diverse interests and sectors across the region to one another, discovering solutions to complex policy problems, and influencing decisions that affect the region’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability. CGLR’s vision is to create the most prosperous, innovative, sustainable, livable, and welcoming region in the world. 

About Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP): 

CNP was founded in 1988 to serve as a local intermediary for community development corporations. The mission of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is to foster equitable revitalization throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods by strengthening the community development ecosystem. CNP expanded its impact by engaging in expanding its work in neighborhood planning, economic development, workforce and sustainability.

Media contacts:

Divya Sridhar, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress [email protected]

John Holm, PYXERA Global [email protected] 

Larae Malooly, Metabolic PR Officer [email protected] 

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Cities and Industries Consultant,
Andrew McCue

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