This past June, REFLOW– a European Union Horizon 2020 project focused on co-creating and co-designing circular and regenerative resource flows in cities– launched at a kickoff event in Copenhagen attended by the project’s 28 consortium members. REFLOW’s goal is to deliver a three year innovation action research project aimed at systematically changing the urban metabolism. The project seeks to contribute real-world prototypes through the development of six pilots: Amsterdam, Berlin, Cluj-Napoca, Milan, Paris and Vejle, each focused on a specific industry (textiles, public property, energy, food, the trade faire sector and plastics, respectively). The project will contribute towards the transition to a circular economy and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Cities currently consume more resources than they produce, in which, expanding urban populations will have an increased responsibility towards. The REFLOW project aims to systematically change waste processes by creating circular ecosystems of resources in cities, replacing the traditional linear system and transforming discarded materials into valuable resources for local production.
REFLOW builds on the urban metabolic concept – through understanding the biological and technical processes of cities, it is possible to identify and incentivise circular practices in local ecosystems through blockchain technologies. The project will partner with existing fab labs and makerspaces to serve as sites for “catalysts for change” where solutions will be co-created, co-designed and tested. The upcoming years will consist of creating data visualisations and mapping of material streams; identifying stakeholders; and developing methodologies and tools for scalability and citizen engagement. This is in line with the aims of global movements like C40 Cities and the Fab City movement, which develop tools for city metrics and feed data into the DIDO model (Data In, Data Out), rather than a PITO model (Product In, Trash Out).
It builds on the hypothesis that open source software and hardware, digital maker practices and methodologies, such as open design, can be effectively used by local communities to appropriate their own technological tools, make sense of their environments and address pressing environmental problems in the 6 pilot areas.
The result will be the generation of a positive environmental, societal and economic impact consisting of urban regeneration, the emergence of economic opportunities, and creative solutions to complex problems. Through co-creation and design, the project will develop a “Productive Cities Toolkit,” which will include both existing frameworks and new tools to support urban systems in adopting and implementing circular and regenerative practices in local manufacturing and innovation policies. The toolkit will be iteratively tested in six pilots in Amsterdam, Berlin, Cluj-Napoca, Milan, Paris and Velje and will run for 3 years, from 2019 to 2022.
[The Next Steps]
REFLOW consortium members are already hard at work in preparation for the project’s first major action: an internal co-creation workshop. The workshop will take place in Copenhagen from November 20-21, with an extra session planned on the 22nd specifically for Work Package leaders to align their work for the coming months. The goal of the co-creation workshop is twofold: to work on the relationship between pilots and partners in the project and, to develop the local context of pilots by exploring each pilot’s local scenarios. As a outcome of the co-creation sections, REFLOW project aims to create a clear sense of direction for the upcoming 6 months. Consortium members will be joined by a variety of local, pilot stakeholders.
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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 820937.
linkedin: REFLOW project
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