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New York Circular City Initiative announces vision to grow 11,000 jobs and reduce waste to zero

A new report and vision issued by the New York Circular City Initiative recommends a series of measures to the City, its businesses and financial institutions to accelerate the creation of a circular economy in New York, which will support the recovery from COVID-19, help catalyze thousands of jobs and maximize resource use while minimizing waste. Convened by leading international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP (“Freshfields”), the New York Circular City Initiative is a coalition of leaders from the mayor’s office, city agencies, multinational corporations, foundations and academic institutions excited to reimagine the way New York’s economy works. 

Complex Challenges, Circular Solutions offers a new vision for the future and provides a roadmap for establishing a circular economy in which no waste is sent to landfill, environmental pollution is minimized, and thousands of well-paid jobs across a wide range of skill levels and all social and racial backgrounds are created through the intelligent use and re-use of products and raw materials. The plan has three important goals, to: 

Highlight job creation opportunities for as many as 11,000 jobs
Deliver over $11 billion in economic benefits
Reduce waste to zero by 2030. 
The report identifies 10 key levers through which business, government and society can drive the shift to circularity: Markets, Procurement, Extended Producer Responsibility, Jobs, Planning, Finance, Policy, Innovation, Communication, and Education. Specific recommendations range from policy measures and procurement guidelines to the creation of circular materials markets. The plan also calls on 2021 mayoral candidates to support the group’s vision for accelerating the city’s transition to a circular economy.
Aided by the compelling approach and ideas in the plan, Freshfields has brought together stakeholders across a range of industries and both the public and private sectors, including: 
Circle Economy
Cisco Systems
Closed Loop Partners
Ellen Macarthur Foundation
Goldman Sachs
NYC Economic Development Corporation
NYC Mayor's Office for Climate Change
Danish Cleantech Hub
Queen of Raw
Recycling Partnership
Stern NYU
“The global economy has operated under a linear model for centuries, but with increasingly scarce resources, rapidly changing climate, an ever-expanding population, and a global pandemic that has had a devastating effect on our lives, health and livelihoods, we need to rethink this linear approach,” said Oliver Dudok van Heel, Freshfields’ Head of Client Sustainability and Environment and the lead author of the report. “A circular system will create a New York City that is thriving, green and just. By applying this thinking across other cities, which consume 78 percent of the world’s energy and produce 60 percent of its emissions, this would lead to a significant reduction in humanity’s environmental footprint.”
“Building a more circular economy means a stronger and more sustainable future for New York City,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation. “When we strengthen our supply chains and more effectively use resources, we are not only spurring innovation and economic activity, we are reducing our environmental impact too. As the City continues to focus on its long-term economic recovery and success, initiatives like these have an important role to play.”
In conjunction with the proposal released today, Dudok van Heel and Timothy Wilkins, Freshfields’ Global Partner for Client Sustainability, will present key findings of the group’s research during a public webinar hosted by the firm. The online event will feature an expert panel of senior executives making the case for a circular economy for New York City and sharing sustainability initiatives being implemented by their respective organizations. Speakers include:
Joey Bergstein, CEO, Seventh Generation and Unilever North America Home Care Lead
Kate Daly, Managing Director, Center for the Circular Economy, Closed Loop Partners
Joke Dufourmont, Lead, Circular Jobs Initiative, Circle Economy
James Patchett, President and CEO, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Tom Szaky, CEO and Founder, TerraCycle
“Circularity—and the economic recovery—requires creative multi-sector collaboration, which is why the New York Circular City Initiative is such an important and powerful vehicle for change,” said Wilkins. “We have reached a pivotal moment in our society’s history, where decisions made today will determine the fate and direction of our future.”

The full report is available for download here. A summary of the report is available here. For more information on the New York Circular City Initiative, please visit
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