Circular Economy Innovation Communities

Public Sector, Third Sector • Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, and more...

The Circular Economy Innovation Communities (CEIC) programme supports public and third sector organisations to develop and deliver circular economy solutions, designing out waste, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.

  • Shared learning and collaboration
  • Working together to develop a Community of Practice
  • Prototyping a new design solution

CEIC's story

The circular economy approach challenges more 'traditional' views on the economy where products are bought, used, and then thrown away. Instead, at CEIC, we are promoting a Circular Economy approach in which materials and equipment are used, reused, and repurposed as effectively as possible, and for as long as possible.

Here in South Wales, we want the public sector in the Cardiff Capital and Swansea Bay regions to work effectively together to rethink how their resources are managed, shared in new, and existing projects and services so that they can maximise the financial, environmental, and social benefits within the organisation.

How do we deliver this approach? In three connected ways: experiential workshops that take people through innovation models and circular economy knowledge; creating Communities of Practice of Public Service managers that provide peer support and facilitate regional working; and co-creating new service solutions within the networks.

We arrange a programme of workshops, site visits, action learning, peer learning and support, expert master-class support and New Product Development and Service Solution mapping and implementation support. This is based on the three key principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems. Organisations that sign up to the programme can expect to receive support in numerous ways – including on-site interventions, 'best practice visits', monthly circular economy workshops, and much more.

The potential outcomes of the programme are significant, and include:
- procuring products that are refurbished, remanufactured or contain recycled materials;
- procuring services that provide access to products (for example, renting or leasing furniture or medical equipment);
- implementing processes that allow the effective sharing of resources, such as equipment and staff between public sector organisations;
- building networks that allow the repurposing and reuse of public sector resources such as medical aids, IT or furniture;
- building partnerships that turn unavoidable public sector waste into resources for another industry;
- designing policies that ensure resource-efficient delivery of public services;
- developing an innovation mindset and engaging stakeholders in achieving circular economy solutions.

Useful learnings from CEIC

We all know that the clock is ticking on the environment and that we must do things differently and think differently, so we expected no problem encouraging people to take up this opportunity. Wales has done well in terms of recycling. We are the second biggest recycler in Europe and the third biggest in the world. While this makes for good reading, we can't rest on our laurels because we've done well on this front. It's important to change people's thinking and look for innovative ways as to how resources are to reduce or eliminate waste. We are offering a fully funded programme that supports organisations to deliver necessary change, but it's taking time to get people fully on board.

We quickly realised that we needed to meet with people and tell them what we are doing and how it will support them to achieve their targets and make a lasting change to the way people think and operate. What worked for us was finding the 'champions' in a given organisation or sector and using them as the link to the key decision makers. Current participants on the programme have also been successful in sharing their experiences and the impact the programme is having both on their organisations and them personally and have encouraged others to take part both within their organisation and from their wider network.

We recently held our first regional conference, enabling programme participants to meet and share what they have achieved, the impact it is having, and the challenges they still face. This has been an excellent way of sharing experiences and learning between peer groups and across regions.

You need patience, resilience, and enthusiasm! We are trying to make a behaviour change and that is always going to take time as well as energy. People want change and need change, but they don't always like change. When organisations have been working the same way for years, procedures are ingrained and that's a hard nut to crack, but you must keep trying.

If you believe in what you do and have all of the above, you can be the catalyst for change – and that change will come.

CEIC's metrics

Since the project's launch in May 2021, over 100 people have taken part from 50 organisations. They have worked together, using a design thinking framework to find solutions to challenges including raising awareness about food waste to retrofitting existing social housing to reduce carbon emissions. Participant feedback indicates that over 93 per cent have enhanced their innovation skills and circular economy knowledge and have developed strong working relationships across the region.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Positive Impacts

Less Waste More Jobs

Response to climate crisis

Mitigation & Adaptation




Public Sector, Third Sector, 10 to 49 people

Shared by

Team Wales

Updated Nov, 2023

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