Google Wants To Help Cities Become Circular Economies

Google Wants To Help Cities Become Circular Economies

Along with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the two companies want to work together to help cities become more sustainable

Zack Palm
  • 10 october 2017

One of the largest issues facing humans lies in our wastefulness. We waste food, resources, space and everything in between. To combat this, Google, in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, are focusing on building a circular economy for cities to follow. Essentially it will encourage people to reuse things they normally would have thrown out.  By doing this, the cities could find more local resources to use on new technologies rather than entirely relying on larger companies to build them from the ground up.


A circular economy operates under the impression a society must work with a finite amount of materials and start using renewable methods for everything to last longer. For example, when someone wishes to upgrade their computer parts they’d donate their old one to get reused. The parts in the old computer get used in the new computer, still upgrading it and making it better but using materials already available. If it’s not reused in someway it then turns into a recyclable material to make something new. This also includes the introduction of renewable energies, and bringing them into as many facets of the city’s power as possible.

Google and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation released a white paper to detail the concept they had for cities involved in the plan. It included plans on how to improve infrastructure, how shared transportation services would benefit the population to open up the roadways, and how cities should grow more of their food locally to later go into composting bins to return any surplus back to the soil. Google had a lot of experience to pull from as they have a circular economy mindset in their company. They attempt to reuse old parts they no longer need to go into newer materials for all of their upgrades.


Two projects were already named in the white paper, Project Sunroof and Portico. Project Sunroof helps a city identify the most ideal roofs for solar energy. These roofs get chose and covered in solar panels, making it easier for a city to develop its own energy. With Portico, Google would help cities identify any faulty materials found in buildings. While the technology does encourage reusing materials as much as possible, these materials have to prove safe. If they don’t, they get recycled to turn into something new for the city to use later on.

To show how companies can use these techniques in cities Google created two circularity labs, one in New York and the other in the Bay Area, to use as examples.

Cities and Circular Economies

+circular economy
+ellen macarthur foundation
+urban development

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