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The circular city in Finland

How are Finland’s largest cities working to promote a circular transition?

This report gives an overview of how Finland’s largest cities are working to promote a circular transition. It also offers key recommendations for how Finnish cities can take their circular economy work to the next level and ensure that they lead the way to a circular economy.

It has been nearly three years since Finland first published its roadmap to a circular economy, laying out the goal of becoming a circular economy leader by 2025. Cities are meant to play an important role in the coming circular transition, so Deloitte has investigated what actions Finland’s largest cities are taking to promote a transition to a sustainable, circular economy.

We spoke with representatives from Finland’s six largest cities about what each of their municipalities is doing in the area of circular economy. We found that Finnish cities are excited about circular economy, seeing it as a source of emission reductions, new jobs, and heightened efficiency. As a result, the cities are piloting various circular experiments with many different partners to build an operating model for urban circular economy.

To get a better sense of this circular economy work, we created a list of city-backed initiatives that the municipalities connect to circular economy. By comparing the Finnish cities’ work to a sample of 83 cities, we found that the Finnish cities’ circular experimentation is stronger in heavy industries, such as the construction sector, and less prominent in social consumption than the international benchmark.

So just how likely is a full-fledged circular transition in the near future, based on these findings? Not too likely. We mapped the initiatives to a framework that shows how policies can support sustainable transitions, which revealed that there were many initiatives meant to support circular innovation but almost none designed to disrupt the current ways of doing business. Clearly, circular economy in Finnish cities has not yet realized the full potential that city managers see for it.

If you are interested in circular economy or the future of sustainable urban development, reading our report will give you an overview of how Finland’s largest cities are working to promote a circular transition. We also offer key recommendations for how Finnish cities can take their circular economy work to the next level and ensure that they lead the way to a circular economy.

“Many of the pieces for a city-led transition to circular economy in Finland are in place: climate change and waste reduction are on residents’ minds, the public sector is looking for new solutions, and the private sector is getting on board. The city governments should use this momentum to advance bolder and more comprehensive experiments that can disrupt the linear economy,” says Nicolas Dolce, Deloitte.
 

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