People as the basis for building circular cities

Published on Monday, 29 August 2022

When we think about circular cities, we are initially transported directly to network formation, technology, and innovation. A scenario where issues such as e-mobility and its positive impacts on the decarbonization of the transport matrix, the distributed generation of energy and its benefits for reducing transmission costs, or even the recovery of natural systems such as rivers, reforestation parks, etc., appear as points of debate and the investment of time and resources. Or even how city structures are strong and resilient enough to face today's top challenges and the ever-present effects of climate change.

In the distribution of energy, it is essential to think about how digitalization can (and must) contribute to the reduction of costs, the improvement of conditions, and quality of life, but, above all, new integration models through shared use platforms. For example, ray sensors can generate data on ray quantity and atmospheric conditions to facilitate better planning for rainy days. In the future, this information may also improve the planning of public structures, reducing damage to cities and saving lives.

From a broader vision, the idea of cities is also directly associated with people and territories. In other words, any perspective of the evolution of circularity requires the commitment and participation of people as a fundamental component. Thus, initiatives that promote studies, debates, and content creation are essential to raising awareness of the importance of circularity in all areas of society, including academia, the public sector, and the private sector.

One exciting example comes from one of the most traditional contexts: recycling. By integrating circular technology and economy, the Green Mining startup has taken on a leadership role in Brazil. Its algorithm maps points of post-consumption waste generation and develops logistics with tricycles for the collection and shipment to the production chain of large companies. However, the most interesting part of its business model (which has already collected over 4,500 tons of waste) is the creation of formal jobs for collectors, with values and labor conditions far above average and benefits for waste donors. In this way, it supports the formation of territories that drive the recycling chain.

Another relevant initiative aimed at new lifecycles is the association between Enel and production groups in low-income territories across different states of Brazil. Sewing and crafting groups receive uniforms and materials for upcycling and commercializing their products. This supports the formation of networks and community production associations, which now have the company's backing for qualifying their products, creating sales channels, training on management and market development, and the possible contribution of structures and inputs. The program also promotes a circular economy, contributing to social inclusion, female empowerment, and income generation for communities, as well as fair, collaborative, and sustainable work as a source of shared value. This allows for income generation, training of new professionals, and local development.

Therefore, to thoroughly structure a circular city requires a holistic vision. It must prioritize the involvement of the most diverse players to form an inclusive network, in terms of individuals and territories, that is strong enough to lay the foundation for a circular economy.