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Type: Interview

Meet the CCRI stakeholders: Eurométropole de Strasbourg (CCRI Fellow)

Published on 11.12.2023

This month we spoke to Anne-Marie Jean, Vice-President of the Eurométropole de Strasbourg, a CCRI Fellow representing 33 cities including Strasbourg. The body focuses on enabling the implementation of a full value chain for secondary construction materials, with one of its biggest challenges being how to engage all stakeholders in the value chain. In the interview, they tell us how finance can prevent companies from dedicating time and resources to circular economy solutions, and what thematic support they have received from the CCRI and its Strategic Partner, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Countries: France

What are the main challenges that you face in your city or region?

A successful territorial circular economy strategy requires the involvement of all stakeholders of a territory. A crosscutting approach, both internally and externally, is therefore needed to involve all stakeholders of the value chain. It can sometimes be challenging to achieve, as stakeholders are not always used to working together. To overcome this challenge, we have started working on industrial symbiosis. It started in 2013 with Local and Environmental Cooperations in Synergies (CLES) on the Port du Rhin. It involves 32 companies, representing thousands of jobs, who chose to combine their efforts to address common issues. This initiative owes its success to the commitment of local stakeholders and to a long-term facilitation led by committed organisations. More than 60 synergies have been deployed since the launch, including a heating network that has been supplying the Port du Rhin district and its businesses since January 2021. The Eurometropolis has also enabled the launch of two other initiatives and is working on the sustainability of these new approaches and the creation of synergies between the three areas.

As companies face financial challenges, it can be complicated for them to dedicate time and resources to circular economy solutions. We experienced different approaches to inform local stakeholders on the existing solutions adapted to their activity. An approach suited to each stakeholder’s specificity proved to be the most relevant, for example a webinar devoted to the management of bio-waste for restaurants, or a biannual event on reuse/recycled materials for the building sector. We are also working in partnership with other actors involved in these areas such as the national environment agency (ADEME), the region, the local chamber of trade and craft (CMA) and the local chamber of commerce and industry (CCI).

Finally, finding relevant indicators (SMART indicators) to monitor progress without creating an administrative burden remains a challenge.

How is participating in the CCRI helping you overcome these challenges?

When we joined the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI), we were hoping to be able to discuss our challenges with other local authorities in Europe, thinking that they would have similar ones, and to learn how they each overcome these issues. Joining the CCRI has in fact offered us a thematic support and a more strategic orientation.

For now, CCRI’s support has been focusing on one topic through the thematic working groupCircular Construction and Buildings”. The working sessions with European partners helped us to position our territory on the European landscape. It enabled us to measure the maturity of the local dynamic to boost the use of reused/recycled materials in the building sector and identify the similarities, for instance the difficulty to trigger the demand for reused materials and to find a sustainable business model for reuse platforms. It also allowed us to highlight the differences with other CCRI members, i.e. the metropolis of Strasbourg’s strategy is to support the development of private reuse platforms while other local authorities throughout Europe develop their own reuse platforms. The shared experiences help us to shape our strategy and our way to work with our partners in order to create a local market of reuse materials. 

The CCRI closely collaborates with strategic partners, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). We are delighted to be part of a group of CCRI cities and regions that have been offered additional support from the OECD.

This targeted support in the development and implementation of our circular economy strategies and programmes focuses on the governance enabling conditions for the transition. We are currently setting up dedicated time with local stakeholders to gather their views on the circular economy on the territory. This offer was nicely timed up with the revision of our Circular Economy Roadmap and our new action plan and we intend to make the most of OECD’s recommendations to shape our new strategy.

What kind of circular systemic solutions are you implementing (or developing)?

As part of our Circular Economy Strategy, we are particularly focusing on the built environment to enable the implementation of a full value chain for secondary construction materials on the territory. We aim at involving all relevant stakeholders to develop effective and shared solutions.

We started by looking at what we can do internally. We have set up crosscutting working groups with colleagues and elected members from different departments with each working on different topics. We provide our deconstruction project managers with circular economy engineering and a collective training course on “circular economy and buildings”, which has been delivered to 40 agents of the construction department so far. An experiment is also underway as part of a rehabilitation project of a former military hospital: the reuse of 400m3 of materials from the deconstruction site for the development of outdoor spaces (bricks, tiles, cut stones, structural wood, etc.).

To involve all territorial stakeholders, we launched a call for interest in June 2022 to identify the local reuse and recycling platforms: we received 13 responses, including 5 local reuse platform projects. We have since been working to help them create a consistent offer in the territory. We are also looking at using an online platform to help circulate materials in the territory (from our own worksites as well as private ones). In parallel, we are financing and taking part in a working group gathering all major construction project managers working on developing reuse for deconstruction materials. Finally, The Circular economy working group of The Pact - Thinking about Developing and Building in Ecological Transition involves 130 public and private professional actors to develop best practices related to the reuse of building materials such as a methodologic tool for reuse and technical specifications to support reuse project management assistants.

The ultimate goal of this strategy is to create a consistent market for secondary construction materials in the territory, allowing the offer to meet the demand.

What are the main barriers and drivers?

The main barrier is the need for a timely meeting between supply and demand. Construction project owners need to know that they can access secondary materials to prescribe reuse for their construction and renovation projects and platforms need to know that they can access reuse materials. Therefore, we have identified that online platforms and/or physical storage platforms are essential for the development of a market for secondary construction materials. It is required, as the time of deconstruction (when the resources become available) does not match the time of construction (when the resources are needed). It remains a challenge to identify what tool is appropriate and how a local authority can foster it. This is why we launched a call of interest in 2022 and are now working with the projects to create a consistent offer in the territory that will then drive the market. 

Two other hurdles have been identified: authorisation and insurance when giving materials from public actors or when reusing materials for the building sector as well as training to restore material for reuse or to properly deconstruct buildings.

We will soon be receiving support from Toulouse Metropolis which has offered to share their methodology and best practices with us as part of their Life Waste2Build project. They have already supported 48 exemplary construction sites locally and we think that we can benefit a lot from their experience. Of course, we look forward to working with other local partners around Europe on this topic as well.