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Circular Cleveland: Creating a Baseline for a New Economy

A global leader in equitable circular economy collaboration and design

Equitable Circular Cleveland grew from the idealism of a regenerative vision for the city. Pyxera Global’s work is founded on the belief that inclusion and the voice of historically marginalized communities should lead the design and implementation of any circular city. Combining Pyxera Global’s multi-sector approach and community-driven ethos with Metabolic’s science-based philosophy has led to a mutually beneficial relationship. This relationship responds to the interlinked socioeconomic and environmental challenges cities are facing.

The Challenge

Cleveland has long been classified as a gritty, resilient, and hardworking community that thrives on perseverance and overcoming hurdles. The city is now aiming to be synonymous with another tagline: Circular Cleveland.

Designated as an official member of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation circular cities network, Cleveland won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and begin implementing an inclusive circular economy strategy framework. The city began its journey working with organizations focused on circular economy principles, such as Upcycle Parts Shop and Rust Belt Riders.

While Cleveland continues to invest in a future built on equity and regeneration, it is focusing its efforts in key growth areas such as the built environment, circular remanufacturing, and regenerative food. While progress is being made, obstacles still remain. These obstacles can be potentially remediated by focusing on areas such as air and water pollution that disproportionately affect Black and Latino communities. While these communities often resort to reduce, reuse, repurpose mindsets to survive, the trust between local communities and the city government is lacking. Furthermore, policy and procurement plans that incentivize and scale circularity are yet to be signed into law, in part due to lack of advocacy from the private sector.

Our Approach

Pyxera Global and Metabolic were selected to advise municipal leaders focusing on public sector strategy and the lead community nonprofit spearheading the initiative, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. Together with the Council of the Great Lakes Region, Pyxera Global and Metabolic worked on a year-long project to provide Cleveland stakeholders with a roadmap and implementation guide designed to pave the way for Cleveland to become the world’s first equitably designed circular city.

During launch, Metabolic conducted an analysis to understand the flow of materials and emissions throughout the city. Simultaneously, Pyxera Global conducted a gap analysis, drawing from extensive stakeholder interviews with local community leaders to better understand the barriers and opportunities within the community. The resulting Circular Landscape Study uncovered four areas to frame Cleveland’s approach: pollution reduction, circular manufacturing, food waste valuation, and the built environment.

In the next stage, Pyxera Global and Metabolic devised the Circular Cleveland Roadmap, providing timely measures for Cleveland to implement. In collaboration with Metabolic’s Ventures team, the approach included small business incentives and grant guidelines.

The Outcome

Pyxera Global and Metabolic aim to support the implementation phase of Cleveland’s circular transition. The goal is to position Cleveland as a designated city of the Circular City Coalition, a partnership between Pyxera Global, Metabolic, Rheaply, Enel North America, and First Mile. 

In the News

From News 5 Cleveland: Local sustainability group pushes for ‘circular’ economy, fill void without citywide recycling program in Cleveland.

WKYC Channel 3 featured Circular Cleveland in their Earth Day coverage: