Why should cities carry out the SCA?

Before explaining the SCA in detail, it is helpful to start with an inspirational WHY - why should an SCA be carried out for a city - for you to understand the reasons and benefits of a method that helps cities assess the circularity of a sector and be motivated to take advantage of it:

  • Make data visible: At its most basic level, the SCA makes data that cities have or have access to visible, by digging them out of drawers and locally stored files on computers and putting them in a centralised place.

  • Break silos: Looking for and making data visible also opens up silos that city departments often operate in due to their organisational nature and working structures. Breaking silos (of information) can uncover data that other departments were not aware of, can benefit from and potentially allow for better communication around data needs. It can also highlight areas where it is possible to start collaborating on, ideally creating synergies, but that is its own point.

  • Put material into context: The materials that cities deal with in demonstration actions or pilot studies are, on their own, not representative of the whole sector that they are in. By analysing a number of other material (flows) that in this group embody the sector better and gaining information on the sizes of those, the material of interest to a single city or a project can be seen in context and its significance understood.

  • Understand the big picture: By studying a number of materials, along various elements of the value chain, throughout a sector, and ideally over more than a year, cities will, possibly for the first time, see the big picture of a sector in their city. They will also gain insights about the sectors' complexities, main challenges and efforts that are needed to be carried out in order to achieve their objectives and goals.

  • Establish a status quo: If this big picture is created for the first time, cities will simultaneously establish a first status quo. This baseline will give them a starting or reference point for their analysis, efforts and policy making in the future and also for the evaluation framework in CityLoops that the assessment is primarily designed for.

  • Inform policy making: With the status quo and the big picture, a city is given a basis from which they can optimise planning and develop policies that are holistic, context-specific, and informed and supported by hard values. In an iterative process, they could even carry out the assessments over and over to track the efficacy of their implemented policies.

  • Put demonstration actions (DAs) into context: Aside from having the materials in a larger context, DAs or certain projects themselves also need to be understood as part of a larger "ecosystem". This ecosystem is made up of stakeholders and supply chains that are uncovered through the SCA, by spatialising and disaggregating as much as possible the metabolic flows and stocks and economic activities, infrastructures, and actors associated with them.

  • Upscale projects: By obtaining insights on both the material and waste flow sizes and the economic landscape in the city, cities will be able to develop informed circularity upscaling plans. They will be able to determine where projects can be further expanded and how much capacity there is. It may also help to directly support the implementation of the demonstration actions themselves through indicating relationships and pressure points.

  • Unlock circular hotspot analysis: Determining the circularity of a single sector lays the groundwork and unlocks the ability to do a "circular hotspot analysis". The hotspot analysis will uncover the materials to be prioritised, since their material flows or part of the value chain is significant, either in terms of size or economic importance, and very linear.