The Circular Economy Plan of Paris

The City of Paris adopted its circular economy plan in July 2017 that will last until 2020. This circular economy plan is the result of a number of previous initiatives that the City of Paris has carried out since 2007, when they had financed a research project on Urban Metabolism in the framework of a call for scientific research projects of the City.

In 2015, the City of Paris collaborated with a number of local authorities of the Greater Paris (metropolitan area of Paris) to organize the ‘General-Estates on Circular Economy’ resulting in the publication of a White Paper on the circular economy of Greater Paris. Over 120 different organisations were brought together to propose 65 initiatives for a “greener and more equitable economy” (see side notes). These initiatives were grouped in 7 strategies namely: Encourage and support economic players; Innovate and Experiment; Scale up and establish momentum in the region; Change attitudes and practices; Involve local authorities, businesses and citizens; Create a network linking players; Change legislation. 

Amongst the 65 initiatives identified in the White paper, 15 actions were selected for the first roadmap of 2017 of Paris’ circular economy plan, in order to maximise the likelihood of their successful implementation. These actions were subdivided in 5 sectors: planning and construction (3 actions), reduction, reuse and repair (4 actions), support for actors (5 actions), public procurement (2 actions), responsible consumption (1 action). After this first year of experimentation, new concrete actions will be proposed during the second roadmap from 2018 to 2019 based on the success of previous actions, on actions already proposed in the White Paper and based on different changes taking places within the territory (i.e. new initiatives, actors, etc.).

The circular economy plan of Paris acknowledges the importance of the different territorial scales and entities for a transition towards a circular economy due to their different competencies but also due to their respective challenges. Therefore, three different scales of intervention are mentioned (note that some actions intervene at two different scales simultaneously):

-        the administrative scale, at which the urban administration will showcase circular practices (5 actions),

-        the territorial scale at which it would be possible to act through public policies on recycling centres, food markets, waste management (12 actions)

-        the metropolitan area scale, at which different forms of gouvernance could be developed to influence territorial and economic development, logistics, etc. (1 action)

An additional element that is interesting to note for the case of Paris is that the circular economy plan is part of a wider strategy to turn Paris into a more “sustainable, cohesive, responsible and resilient” city (see side note). Other plans include a Climate and Energy Plan, a Local Urban Planning Scheme, an Urban Agriculture Development plan, a Local waste prevention programme and a Sustainable food plan. For Paris, the circular economy plan goes hand in hand with the idea of territorial innovation (development of new technologies, new modes of organization, social innovations and services innovations). As such the circular economy plan provides a territorial instrument to promote sustainable economic development targeting, on the one hand, both producers and consumers and, on the other hand, public and private actors.

Chair's opinion

Paris’ circular economy plan put forward the importance of testing ideas within the local administration before opening up the plan to other stakeholders; it also points out the relevance of working at different scales. 

For the case of Paris, the proximity between circular economy and social economy is manifest and can be traced to the authorship of the city’s circular economy plan: Antoinette Guhl, adjoint to the mayor of Paris, is not only in charge of circular economy but also holds the competence for social and solidary economy.

What is interesting to note is that in the case of Paris, there was an urban metabolism study that preceded the efforts of circular economy. The urban metabolism study was multi-scale and considered Paris, Greater Paris and the Region (Ile-de-France). As for many European cities, this study highlighted the linearity of Paris’ metabolism as well as how contrasted the different territorial scales were. It also identified some priority flows that highly impact the metabolism such as organic flows (and waste), construction materials and demolition waste and could fuel the implementation of a circular economy. The link between the urban metabolism study seemed rather strong, as different territorial scales were also present in the plan and the main flows identified in the study were considered as priorities in the circular economy plan. Nevertheless, in practice the collaboration between academic research and the development of the circular economy plan was less structural and in-depth.