Circular Cities Coalition and Rheaply selected as Clinton Global Initiative commitment

September 21, 2022

Rheaply, PXYERA Global, Metabolic, Enel North America, and First Mile have formed the Circular City Coalition (CCC) to focus on action and implementation in laying the foundation for a circular economy, including through a new circular innovation ecosystem fund. These organizations share a vision to enable the rapid and just transition towards a regenerative and equitable economy.

Cities occupy only 3% of Earth’s land surface, but they consume 75% of our resources while producing 60-80% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. With 55% of the world’s population living in cities and that number continuing to grow, urban environments are where some of the greatest inequities occur. By initiating a regenerative and equitable transition in urban hubs, the CCC can collectively tackle the issues at scale and with urgency.

“Our mission is to design out these environmental, social, and economic issues simultaneously, rather than one at a time, and to help bring regenerative and equitable solutions to scale in cities across the world,” said Deirdre White, CEO of PYXERA Global.

Composed of leading NGOs, MNCs, Social enterprises, and circular start-ups like Rheaply, the CCC is driven by the spirit of collaboration needed to build a better world — starting with helping cities transform and enabling all communities to thrive. Together, these five organizations are experts in the field, boasting a global reach from 34 offices on six continents. They have advised more than 60 governments and cities on circular economy and climate policy, and have collectively facilitated and implemented multi-stakeholder programs representing local community interests in more than 110 countries.

“The CCC is a collective mission where we connect the resource-strapped individual or company to the resource-rich organization in the same community! The juxtaposition of scarcity and surplus continue to riddle our visions of progress, resulting in a linear economy where wealth and resource gaps, landfill buildup, and unnecessary carbon spend continue. There are children who need computers for at home learning, and in those same communities, lightly-used computers are thrown away every month. We have have to act now, and quickly, to address the global climate crisis. But building a more resilience, connected, and circular community must be a central priority,” said Rheaply CEO Dr. Garry Cooper. 

“Cities are a powerful leverage point because of their immense resource use and concentrated populations,” says Eva Gladek, CEO and founder of Metabolic, which has proven experience working with coalitions to redesign cities. “That’s exactly why we have been engaging with cities for the past 10 years. If we restructure the economy towards a circular model, these resources can be the bedrock of a new economy, with more resilience, more jobs, and less environmental impact. We are working towards breaking down the financial barriers and creating enabling conditions to push the transformation, and tackle multiple problems at once, from inequality to pollution to resource management.”

From Krakow (Poland) to São Paulo (Brazil), and from Cleveland, Ohio (US) to Amsterdam (The Netherlands), cities across the globe are co-designing blueprints that provide the necessary mix of legislation and strategy to enable regenerative and equitable transitions towards the circular economy.

While there is a strong consensus to move these strategies from theory into practice, several roadblocks are stifling meaningful progress, including:

The “Recycling is Enough” Mindset: In the United States, only 35% of trash is recycled (only 5% of plastic). By the time materials are recycled, they have already lost most of their value. Cities need to enable a repair/reuse mindset and incentivize these more regenerative activities higher up the value chain.

Operational Funding Cycles: Cities are understaffed, under-resourced, and do not have the necessary funds to meaningfully invest in the enforcement of circular economy legislation and circular infrastructure at scale. Without reliable funding streams, significant change for citizens and their environment is severely limited.

Meaningful Multi-Sector Collaboration: Due to stretched budgets and short-term solutions, cities lack the necessary resources needed to invest in building fruitful and authentic partnerships across public, social, and private sectors. Rheaply’s technology acts as the bridge to valuable assets within these sectors in a  virtual reuse network, making sure the best decisions are made to equitably distribute valuable resources in the local / extended market, versus sending them to a landfill.

Using the Circular Innovation Ecosystem philosophy, the CCC will tackle these issues by creating a regenerative fund in and for cities across the world. The philosophy ties circular economy investments and innovation to impact outcomes through four key elements:

1. Innovative Finance: Scaling high-value circular economy (CE) solutions, while accelerating and transforming businesses through the development of results-based finance mechanisms in collaboration with private and public financiers.

2. Synergistic Acceleration: Accelerating a cohort of CE businesses that act synergistically towards shifting a target industry towards circularity.

3. Partnerships: Collaborating with cities to leverage public budgets, implement circular practices, participate in public/private financing, and champion circular innovation at scale.

4. Replication: Building local circular innovation ecosystems in cities across the globe by openly prototyping and sharing best practices.

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From the Northwestern Research Lab to CEO