How the circular economy supports New York City’s goals

As this report shows, the circular economy can deliver environmental and socio-economic benefits, including the creation of jobs. These are all priorities for New York City, as set out in the OneNYC 2050 Plan that offers a compelling vision for a sustainable future. More recently, the city’s COVID-19 Green Recovery highlights that “a green recovery that prioritizes clean energy, resilient infrastructure, and environmental justice will help accelerate economic recovery while enhancing social equity.”

New York’s OneNYC 2050 strategy seeks to deliver a number of socio-economic benefits and build a “strong and fair city.” The New York Circular City Initiative can support this strategy by contributing to a number of OneNYC goals:

By 2025: lifting 800,000 people out of poverty54
By 2050: eliminating, reducing or offsetting 100 percent of greenhouse gas emissions

OneNYC 2050 is a strategy to secure our city’s future against the challenges of today and tomorrow. With bold actions to confront our climate crisis, achieve equity, and strengthen our democracy, we are building a strong and fair city.

OneNYC 2050 Plan

The OneNYC Plan also has as a goal to transition New York City toward a circular economy,55 while the Industrial Action Plan launched by Mayor de Blasio in 2015 includes a commitment to invest in developing industrial and manufacturing businesses for the long term. Establishing eco-industrial parks in the city and promoting the remanufacturing and refurbishing sectors would be fully in line
with this ambition.

A circular approach to municipal waste could generate many thousands of jobs. Increasing the city’s waste diversion rate from 21 percent to 70 percent would add 3,300 jobs in processing recyclables and organic waste, while further manufacturing jobs would be created by supporting recycling-reliant industries.56 These would range from high-end professional roles (for instance in the shift from product to service as explained in the ‘Three scenarios’ downloadable pdf accessible here), to skilled refurbishing jobs and lower-skilled positions in the recycling sector.

Cities such as Paris, London and Amsterdam already have implemented circular strategies, and New York City has many circular initiatives in place. By building on these and creating a city-wide approach based on collaboration between key stakeholders, New York City can become a global leader in the circular economy and deliver jobs, growth and environmental benefits that will be felt by all its residents.

Our research has identified to what extent the circular economy can create jobs, support the economic recovery and minimize the City's environmental footprint.

“New York City will become a center of excellence for sustainable product design by partnering with the private sector to design and market products that are reusable, repairable or recyclable. We will create incentives and infrastructure for city businesses and consumers to use recycled materials to support the growth of closed-loop recycling. Through the power of policy, advocacy, procurement and regulation, we will take a leadership role in driving brands and product manufacturers to design for returnability, reusability, repairability, recyclability and compostability. We will also expand the use of extended producer responsibility measures to keep more products out of our landfills. We will raise consumer awareness, explore new business models and incorporate technological innovations.”

OneNYC 2050 “A liveable climate”


OneNYC 2019 Indicators


Transform Don’t Trash NYC, Clean City, Green Jobs: How smart recycling policies can build NYC’s economy (2016)