Prato Circular City Project

Aggiornato il: 04/06/2021

Accelerating the transition towards a circular economy is an important challenge for institutions, cities, production districts, organizations and citizens. Alongside the many virtuous initiatives that exist at a micro level, it is essential to encourage the development and affirmation of increasingly systemic and integrated circular models aimed at sustainability on a larger scale.

Prato Circular City is a project promoted by the Municipality of Prato in order to enhance the city's transition towards a circular economy. Prato is strongly characterized by a homogeneous production district which is a fertile ground for this transition.

In addition, the global health emergency due to Covid-19 forces us to reconsider our lifestyles and coexistence, the training system, the ways of using spaces, and our production processes.

The project is inspired by work carried out within the European partnership of the Urban Agenda on the Circular Economy issue and has two main objectives:

  1. Strengthen the image of Prato as a "circular city" and promote shared, integrated and participatory actions;
  2. Establish a permanent table with the stakeholders of the territory in order to promote shared circular economy actions and build a governance model of circular city.

Prato Circular City explores four vertical themes and one horizontal theme that reflect the most important aspects of circular economy for the city. The results will flow into this site which will accompany the evolution process of Prato into a Circular City and will report on the results.

In-depth topic - from linear to circular

The linear economic model followed until today, with high withdrawals of resources and materials and high production of waste from processing and consumption activities, is no longer sustainable. Circular economy aims to transform production processes by following the principles of regeneration of materials and promoting the extension of the life cycle of products and resources. This model aims to reduce the use of new natural resources, improve the efficiency in the use of materials and resources, optimize the production of goods, prevent the production of waste, encourage the reuse and shared uses of goods and services, increase the recovery of waste and the effective recycling of waste, and promote changes in business and consumption models, based on participatory approaches that take into account longer time horizons.

Cities represent a significant opportunity for the development of a new vision of circular economy as highlighted by the Pact of Amsterdam, adopted by the European Union in 2016, and they are the real battlefield for the challenges of 21st-century society, as emphasized by the New United Nations Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The European Urban Agenda indicates circular economy as one of the 12 essential priority themes for the development of urban areas. In Europe and in the world, the role of cities, as a privileged place for the application of the circular economy paradigm, is an established fact. Exactly for this reason, the City of Prato immediately adopted this path and in 2016 it decided to apply as an Italian referent, a role it covered for the next three years (2016-2019).

In November, 2018, the final document was produced, an Action Plan for circular economy, built on the idea of ​​a city in which the urban resource centres are social and economic hubs where citizens and companies meet and collaborate on initiatives of circular type and where unused buildings and spaces are considered resources to stimulate better use of the built environment. A city that considers the collaborative economy as a tool for economic, environmental and social development, able to use local resources through the implementation of a roadmap for the circular management of resources.

Political decision makers have the relevant task of providing the reference framework within which companies can operate, defining the context for decision-making, planning and business activities. Companies must therefore move within the political framework, applying circular principles and enjoying the resulting benefits.

This project intends to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, in particular:

  • SDG 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
  • SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production