• What this little book tells you

    Cities are complex systems whose quality, efficiency and resilience cannot be addressed solely as economic issues.1 This little book has arisen out of work carried out as part of the Liveable Cities research programme. To help in understanding more fully how a large UK city operates, data were collected on Birmingham city’s resource flows and waste from 2012/13. This case study of a major city will help to illustrate the following core ideas in the book, which include the following:


    • Problems in cities related to resources and waste.
    • Urban Metabolism (UM) is a useful decision-making tool that has both benefits and shortcomings.
    • The current consumption system has a few failures that need fixing.
    • Research on UM in Birmingham gave us an insight into what flows in, out and around the city.
    • The Circular Economy (CE) and its framework might be a way to improve upon the current consumption system.
    • Two industry examples – mobile phones and beer – give us some good ideas about business models that work well in terms of implementing CE principles
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