Circular Charlotte

​Circular Charlotte FAQ

​Circular Charlotte is a new, regenerative economic model designed to produce zero waste. Currently, Charlotte’s 900,000 tons of annual waste represent a residual value of roughly $111 million per year. By simply adopting a comprehensive waste diversion strategy, Charlotte could create more than 2,000 jobs by harnessing material instead of dumping it into ever-growing landfills.

​The City of Charlotte’s Environmental Committee recognizes that environmental stewardship is fundamentally important to quality of life and essential to maintaining a vibrant economy. The City has goals of becoming a global leader in environmental sustainability, balancing economic growth, while preserving our natural resources. Part of this commitment includes using innovative ways achieve this mission. Circular Charlotte is a way to achieve all environmental goals, as well, improve the quality of life for all (current and future) Charlotteans.

​Envision Charlotte’s role is to build and maintain the Innovation Barn. The Innovation Barn will provision entrepreneurs (who might not otherwise be able to afford to develop their circular economy business ideas) with equipment, expert advice, and commercial feedback to develop circular economy business ideas at a startup incubator based at the Innovation Barn.

​The City of Charlotte will implement Circular Charlotte as an economic development strategy in Charlotte. The Circular Charlotte initiatives will help Charlotte address key issues impacting the entire city - economic and social mobility. The expectation is that Circular Charlotte will help Charlotte become the epicenter for people and cities to learn how to experiment, create and innovate.

​The case studies will be implemented gradually, beginning with the Innovation Barn which is slated to open in August 2019.

To begin implementation of the Circular Charlotte strategy the City will focus efforts on four of the five business cases:

  • The creation of 300 jobs by developing a circular industry based on feeding 50,000 tons of food waste to black soldier fly larvae, which can be converted into pellets to use as feed on North Carolina poultry farms;
  • The saving of 345,341 gallons of water by developing a closed-loop textiles chain for linens and uniforms used in hotels and hospitals, cutting demand for environmentally damaging cotton and polyester production and offering opportunities to work in a whole new industry;
  • The provision entrepreneurs (who might not otherwise be able to afford to develop their circular economy business ideas) with equipment, expert advice, and commercial feedback to develop circular economy business ideas at a startup incubator based at the Innovation Barn;
  • The aversion of 41,186 in CO2e emissions by transforming concrete from demolition sites and powder created from discarded glass into new concrete, also creating new jobs.

​Yes, community partners have already been incorporated in the implementation of the case studies. These community partners include University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Wells Fargo, Chef Barlowe, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. As Circular Charlotte grows so will the amount of community partners.

​Cost of Circular Charlotte is based upon scale of implementation of each case study.  Cost can not be determined until further research and work is completed.

​The only other US city engaged in this work is Phoenix, Arizona. In 2013, the city launched Reimagine Phoenix, with the goal of increasing Phoenix’s waste diversion rate to 40 percent by 2020.

​This is a new venture for the City of Charlotte and Envision Charlotte. As the endeavor grows, the City of Charlotte will work to include Mecklenburg County as a partner.

​The lab will begin with only small-scale experiments to discover what products in Charlotte’s waste stream are most valuable and how they can be used. The building will also feature a 6,000-square-foot event space that residents can rent and a restaurant specializing in creating dishes from food that would have been thrown away at grocery stores or other places. There will be dedicated to office and entrepreneurial space for businesses or scientists to use, with the hope of  micro-grants to fund some of the projects and help them grow.

To ensure the success of Circular Charlotte the following metrics will be used ::

  • Jobs
  • Carbon dioxide emissions
  • Waste diverted from the landfill
  • Generated revenue
  • Waste use avoided
  • Land use diverted

​Charlotte sends 944,177 tons to landfill and 66,354 of waste to recycling, for a combined total of 1.06 million tons of waste.

Based on innovations created in the Innovation Barn, the City of Charlotte will use that info to help remove certain materials from from the waste stream that will be used to support the suggested business models. For example, if an entrepreneur in the Innovation Barn develops a shoe that is made from recycled plastics and develops a sound business model to create these shoes plastic material will be diverted from the landfill and put to good use.

Food waste, which is the number one item in household trash, will also be diverted from the landfill through Circular Charlotte. One of the case studies is to develop a circular industry based on feeding 50,000 tons of food waste to black soldier fly larvae, which will then be converted into pellets to use as feed on North Carolina poultry farms. This system reduces food waste and could create an estimated 300 jobs.

​The Innovation Barn will be open in August 2019. Through the Innovation Barn, members of the community will be able to be a part of Circular Charlotte. To stay up to date with Circular Charlotte text CIRCULARCLT to 245-87.