City in the loop: assessing the relationship between circular economy and smart sustainable cities

  • Vincenzo Formisano
  • Enrica Iannucci
  • Maria Fedele
  • Aysan Bashirpour Bonab
Keywords: smart city; smart sustainable city; circular economy; Google Scholar; city management

Abstract

Research frame: The concept of a smart city is closely related to sustainability. The circular economy is one of the most interesting facets of the latter. Nevertheless, no substantial effort has been made so far to establish the link between the circular economy and smart cities.

Purpose of the paper: Through the conceptual systemic perspective and quantitative means, the study investigates how the concepts of the smart sustainable city and the circular economy are interconnected.

Methodology: After assessing the related scholarly literature to highlight the systemic nature of the connection between a smart sustainable city and a circular economy, we analyze the relationship between the two by operationally quantifying both concepts on the macro level and the level of the single components of smartness and circularity. Operationalizations are based on the relative frequencies with which certain EU cities are mentioned in scholarly documents related to smartness and the circular economy and indexed on Google Scholar. Regression analysis and principal component analysis are used as the main analytical tools.

Findings: We find a significant positive relationship between a city’s smartness and circularity. While the presence of specific smart city-related technologies like AI, Big Data, and IoT are less important for the proliferation of circular economy initiatives in a city, the same is not true for the overall presence of an advanced ICT infrastructure. Alternatively, waste management is the element of the circular economy that contributes the most to sustainable urban smartness.

Research limits: The analysis is performed on a dataset consisting of 193 EU cities. Therefore, the results cannot be applied to cities outside the EU. Moreover, the indices that operationalize sustainable smartness and circularity are empirically valid but require more in-depth statistical validation.

Practical implications: The study suggests city managers and administrators to treat the smart sustainable city concept holistically. Indeed, circular economy initiatives could significantly affect the implementation of smart sustainable urban initiatives.

Originality of the paper: Although the literature treats the two concepts extensively, no attempts to quantify the relationship between smart sustainable cities and circular economy have been made until now. We hope this study will shed additional light on the complex systemic nature of the investigated domains.

References

ACELEANU M.I., ŞERBAN A.C., SUCIU M.C., BIŢOIU T.I. (2019), “The management of municipal waste through circular economy in the context of smart cities development”, IEEE Access, vol. 7, n. 1, pp. 133602-133614.

AHVENNIEMI H., HUOVILA A., PINTO-SEPPÄ I., AIRAKSINEN M. (2017), “What are the differences between sustainable and smart cities?”, Cities, vol. 60, pp. 234-245.

AKALIYSKI, P. (2017), “Sources of societal value similarities across Europe: Evidence from dyadic models”, Comparative Sociology, vol. 16, n. 4, pp. 447-470.

AKANDE A., CABRAL P., GOMES P., CASTELEYN S. (2019), “The Lisbon ranking for smart sustainable cities in Europe”, Sustainable Cities and Society, vol. 44, pp. 475-487.

AL NUAIMI E., AL NEYADI H., MOHAMED N., AL-JAROODI J. (2015), “Applications of big data to smart cities”, Journal of Internet Services and Applications, vol. 6, n. 1, pp. 1-15.

AL-NASRAWI S., ADAMS C., EL-ZAART A. (2016), “Smartness of smart sustainable cities: A multidimensional dynamic process fostering sustainable development”, SMART 2016, n. 25.

ANDABAKA A., BEG M., GELO T. (2018), “Challenges of circular economy in Croatia”, International Journal of Multidisciplinarity in Business and Science, vol. 4, n. 5, pp. 115-126.

AWUAH K.B., BOOTH C.A. (2014), “Integrated management framework for sustainable cities: Insights into multiple concepts and principles”, The Sustainable City IX: Urban Regeneration and Sustainability (2 Volume Set), vol. 191, pp. 111-123.

BAKICI T., ALMIRALL E., WAREHAM J. (2013), “A smart city initiative: the case of Barcelona”, Journal of the Knowledge Economy, vol. 4, n. 2, pp. 135-148.

BARBIER E.B., BURGESS J.C. (2017), “The Sustainable Development Goals and the systems approach to sustainability”, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, vol. 11, n. 2017-28, pp. 1-23.

BATTY M., AXHAUSEN K.W., GIANNOTTI F., POZDNOUKHOV A., BAZZANI A., WACHOWICZ M., PORTUGALI Y. (2012), “Smart cities of the future”, The European Physical Journal Special Topics, vol. 214, n. 1, pp. 481-518.

BIBRI S.E. (2018), “The IoT for smart sustainable cities of the future: An analytical framework for sensor-based big data applications for environmental sustainability”, Sustainable Cities and Society, vol. 38, pp. 230-253.

BIBRI S.E., KROGSTIE J. (2017), “Smart sustainable cities of the future: An extensive interdisciplinary literature review”, Sustainable Cities and Society, vol. 31, pp. 183-212.

BIFULCO F., TREGUA M., AMITRANO C.C., D’AURIA A. (2016), “ICT and sustainability in smart cities management”, International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 29, n. 2, pp. 132-147.

BONATO D., ORSINI R. (2018), “Urban Circular Economy: The New Frontier for European Cities’ Sustainable Development”, in Sustainable Cities and Communities Design Handbook (pp. 235-245), Butterworth-Heinemann.

BONVIU F. (2014), “The European economy: From a linear to a circular economy”, Romanian Journal of European Affairs, vol. 14, n. 4, pp. 78-91.

BULKELEY H., BETSILL M. (2005), “Rethinking sustainable cities: Multilevel governance and the ’urban’ politics of climate change”, Environmental Politics, vol. 14, n. 1, pp. 42-63.

CARAGLIU A., DEL BO C., NIJKAMP P. (2011), “Smart cities in Europe”, Journal of Urban Technology, vol. 18, n. 2, pp. 65-82.

CASTELLS M. (2000), “Urban sustainability in the information age”, City, vol. 4, n. 1, pp. 118-122.

CHONG M., HABIB A., EVANGELOPOULOS N., PARK H.W. (2018), “Dynamic capabilities of a smart city: An innovative approach to discovering urban problems and solutions”, Government Information Quarterly, vol. 35, n. 4, pp. 682-692.

COENEN T., VAN DER GRAAF S., WALRAVENS N. (2014), “Firing up the city-a smart city living lab methodology”, Interdisciplinary Studies Journal, vol. 3, n. 4, pp. 118.

DE JONG M., JOSS S., SCHRAVEN D., ZHAN C., WEIJNEN M. (2015), “Sustainable-smart-resilient-low carbon-eco-knowledge cities; making sense of a multitude of concepts promoting sustainable urbanization”, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 109, n. 1, pp. 25-38.

DEAKIN M., REID A. (2018), “Smart cities: Under-gridding the sustainability of city-districts as energy efficient-low carbon zones”, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 173, n. 1, pp. 39-48.

DEL BORGHI A., GALLO M., STRAZZA C., MAGRASSI F., CASTAGNA M. (2014), “Waste management in Smart Cities: the application of circular economy in Genoa (Italy)”, Impresa Progetto Electronic Journal of Management, n. 4, pp. 1-13.

DOMENECH T., BAHN-WALKOWIAK B. (2019), “Transition towards a resource efficient circular economy in Europe: policy lessons from the EU and the member states”, Ecological Economics, vol. 155, pp. 7-19.

ENGEL J.S., BERBEGAL-MIRABENT J., PIQUÉ J.M. (2018), “The renaissance of the city as a cluster of innovation”, Cogent Business and Management, vol. 5, n. 1, pp. 1532777.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2010), Communication from the Commission EUROPE 2020 A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, Com (2010) 2020, Brussels (3 March) Commission of the European Communities.

FEDELE M., ROMEO E.F. (2020), “Processo innovativo, sostenibilità e miglioramento della qualità della vita come driver di sviluppo delle città: evidenze dalla letteratura”, In (a cura di) Romeo E.F., Cittadini e imprese nello sviluppo delle città medie tra innovazione e aggregazione, Pearson Italia, pp. 93-119.

FUSCO GIRARD L. (2013), “Toward a smart sustainable development of port cities/areas: The role of the “Historic Urban Landscape” approach”, Sustainability, vol. 5, n. 10, pp. 4329-4348.

GARGIULO C., PINTO V., ZUCARO F. (2013), “EU smart city governance”, TeMA-Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, vol. 6, n. 3, pp. 356-370.

GASCÓ-HERNANDEZ M. (2018), “Building a smart city: lessons from Barcelona”, Communications of the ACM, vol. 61, n. 4, pp. 50-57.

GEISSDOERFER M., SAVAGET P., BOCKEN N.M., HULTINK E.J. (2017), “The Circular Economy-A new sustainability paradigm?”, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 143, pp. 757-768.

GOUVEA R., KAPELIANIS D., KASSICIEH S. (2018), “Assessing the nexus of sustainability and information & communications technology”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 130, n. 1, pp. 39-44.

HARTLEY K., VAN SANTEN R., KIRCHHERR J. (2020), “Policies for transitioning towards a circular economy: Expectations from the European Union (EU)”, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 155, n. 1, pp. 104634.

HIGÓN D.A., GHOLAMI R., SHIRAZI F. (2017), “ICT and environmental sustainability: A global perspective”, Telematics and Informatics, vol. 34, n. 4, pp. 85-95.

HOTTA Y., AOKI-SUZUZKI C. (2014) “Waste reduction and recycling initiatives in Japanese cities: Lessons from Yokohama and Kamakura”, Waste Management and Research, vol. 32, n. 9, pp.857-866.

ISMAGILOVA E., HUGHES L., DWIVEDI Y.K., RAMAN K.R. (2019), “Smart cities: Advances in research-An information systems perspective”, International Journal of Information Management, vol. 47, n. 1, pp. 88-100.

JANKER J., MANN S. (2020), “Understanding the social dimension of sustainability in agriculture: A critical review of sustainability assessment tools”, Environment, Development and Sustainability, vol. 22, n. 3, pp.1671-1691.

KORHONEN J., HONKASALO A., SEPPÄLÄ J. (2018), “Circular economy: the concept and its limitations”, Ecological Economics, vol. 143, n. 1, pp. 37-46.

KOSTADINOVA POPOVA K., MALINOVA MALCHEVA M. (2020), “Assessment of the potential of Varna city as a smart tourist destination”, Tourism: An International Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 68, n. 3, pp. 308-321.

KRAMERS A., HÖJER M., LÖVEHAGEN N., WANGEL J. (2014), “Smart sustainable cities-Exploring ICT solutions for reduced energy use in cities”, Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 56, n. 1, pp. 52-62.

LI X., LV Z., HIJAZI I. H., JIAO H., LI L., LI K. (2016), “Assessment of urban fabric for smart cities”, IEEE Access, vol. 4, pp. 373-382.

LÓPEZ-QUILES J.M., BOLÍVAR M.P.R. (2018), “Smart technologies for smart governments: A review of technological tools in smart cities”, Smart Technologies for Smart Governments, vol. 24, n. 1, pp. 1-18.

LUSCH R.F., SPOHRER J.C. (2012), “Evolving service for a complex, resilient, and sustainable world”, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 28, n. 13-14, pp. 1491-1503.

MACIONIS J.J., PARRILLO V.N. (2004), Cities and urban life, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

MAKKONEN T., MERISALO M., INKINEN T. (2018), “Containers, facilitators, innovators? The role of cities and city employees in innovation activities”, European Urban and Regional Studies, vol. 25, n. 1, pp. 106-118.

MAPPING SMART CITIES IN EU (2014), https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2014/507480/IPOL-ITRE_ET(2014)507480_EN.pdf

MARTIN C.J., EVANS J., KARVONEN A. (2018), “Smart and sustainable? Five tensions in the visions and practices of the smart-sustainable city in Europe and North America”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 133, pp. 269-278.

MORA L., BOLICI R., DEAKIN M. (2017), “The first two decades of smart-city research: A bibliometric analysis”, Journal of Urban Technology, vol. 24, n. 1, pp. 3-27.

MORAGA G., HUYSVELD S., MATHIEUX F., BLENGINI G.A., ALAERTS L., VAN ACKER K., DEWULF J. (2019), “Circular economy indicators: What do they measure?”, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 146, n. 1, pp. 452-461.

NEIROTTI P., DE MARCO A., CAGLIANO A.C., MANGANO G., SCORRANO F. (2014), “Current trends in Smart City initiatives: Some stylised facts”, Cities, vol. 38, n. 1, pp. 25-36.

NICA E., KONECNY V., POLIAK M., KLIESTIK T. (2020), “Big data management of smart sustainable cities: networked digital technologies and automated algorithmic decision-making processes”, Management Research and Practice, vol. 12, n. 2, pp. 48-57.

PASKALEVA K.A. (2011), “The smart city: A nexus for open innovation?”, Intelligent Buildings International, vol. 3, n. 3, pp. 153-171.

PETIT-BOIX A., LEIPOLD S. (2018), “Circular economy in cities: Reviewing how environmental research aligns with local practices”, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 195, n. 1, pp. 1270-1281.

PEVCIN P. (2019), “Smart city label: past, present, and future”, Zbornik Radova Ekonomski Fakultet u Rijeka, vol. 37, n. 2, pp. 801-822.

PINNA F., MASALA F., GARAU C. (2017), “Urban policies and mobility trends in Italian smart cities”, Sustainability, vol. 9, n. 4, pp. 494.

QUAN S.J., PARK J., ECONOMOU A., LEE S. (2019), “Artificial intelligence-aided design: Smart design for sustainable city development”, Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, vol. 46, n. 8, pp. 1581-1599.

RANTAKOKKO M. (2012), “Smart city as an innovation engine: Case Oulu”, Elektrotehniski Vestnik, vol. 79, n. 5, pp. 248.

RODRIGUES A., VIRTUDES A. (2019, February), “A smart rural project for tourism of Madeira Island”, In IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, IOP Publishing, vol. 471, n. 9, pp. 092042.

ROMANO O., MATSUMOTO T., BECK M.B., THOMPSON M., FATH B., LIU W. (2020), Cities and the Circular Economy. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/c849691b-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/c849691b-en

ROZMAHEL P., KOUBA L., GROCHOVÁ L., NAJMAN N. (2013), Integration of Central and Eastern European Countries: Increasing EU Heterogeneity? (No. 9), WWWforEurope Working Paper.

SCHAFFERS H., KOMNINOS N., PALLOT M., AGUAS M., ALMIRALL E., BAKICI T., VENTURA J.L. (2012), Smart cities as innovation ecosystems sustained by the future internet, available at: www.urenio.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2012-FIREBALL-White-Paper-Final.pdf

SCHAFFERS H., KOMNINOS N., PALLOT M., TROUSSE B., NILSSON M., OLIVEIRA A. (2011, May), “Smart cities and the future internet: Towards cooperation frameworks for open innovation”, In The future internet assembly (pp. 431-446), Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

SCHIPPER R., SILVIUS G. (2019), “Opportunities for the Circular Economy in Smart Cities: The Role of Digital Technology”, International Journal of Information Systems and Social Change (IJISSC), vol. 10, n. 4, pp. 12-35.

SHAHROKNI H., ÅRMAN L., LAZAREVIC D., NILSSON A., BRANDT N. (2015), “Implementing smart urban metabolism in the Stockholm Royal Seaport: Smart city SRS”, Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 19, n. 5, pp. 917-929.

SMOL M., DUDA J., CZAPLICKA-KOTAS A., SZOŁDROWSKA D. (2020), “Transformation towards Circular Economy (CE) in Municipal Waste Management System: Model Solutions for Poland”, Sustainability, vol. 12, n. 11, pp. 4561.

SVERKO GRDIC Z., KRSTINIC NIZIC M., RUDAN E. (2020), “Circular economy concept in the context of economic development in EU countries”, Sustainability, vol. 12, n. 7, pp. 3060.

TALAMO C., PINTO M.R., VIOLA S., ATTA N. (2019, July), “Smart cities and enabling technologies: influences on urban Facility Management services”, In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, vol. 296, n. 1, p. 012047, IOP Publishing.

THOMPSON M. (1979), Rubbish theory: the creation and destruction of value, Oxford University Press.

TREGUA M., D’AURIA A., BIFULCO F. (2015), “Comparing research streams on smart city and sustainable city”, China-USA Business Review, vol. 14, n. 4, pp. 203-215.

TREUDE M. (2021), “Sustainable Smart City-Opening a Black Box”, Sustainability, vol. 13, n. 2, pp. 769.

UNECE. (2015), The UNECE-ITU Smart Sustainable Cities Indicators. Geneva. Available at: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/hlm/projects/SMART_CITIES/ECE_HBP_2015_4.pdf

VEECKMAN C., VAN DER GRAAF S. (2015), “The city as living laboratory: Empowering citizens with the citadel toolkit”, Technology Innovation Management Review, vol. 5, n. 3, pp. 6.

VISVIZI A., LYTRAS M.D. (2018), “Rescaling and refocusing smart cities research: From mega cities to smart villages”, Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, vol. 9, n. 2, pp. 134-145.

WORLD CITIES DATABASE (2020), https://simplemaps.com/data/world-cities?fbclid=IwAR23cCOMSgk4sdR_327TsDyW_HSytdES17YTSfPdPJ_1yV8lp4Ubh93gOcI

WU S.J., RAGHUPATHI W. (2018), “The strategic association between information and communication technologies and sustainability: A country-level study”, In Sustainable development: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 694-719), IGI Global.

YEH H. (2017), “The effects of successful ICT-based smart city services: From citizens’ perspectives”, Government Information Quarterly, vol. 34, n. 3, pp. 556-565.

YIGITCANLAR T., KAMRUZZAMAN M., BUYS L., IOPPOLO G., SABATINI-MARQUES J., DA COSTA E.M., YUN J.J. (2018), “Understanding ‘smart cities’: Intertwining development drivers with desired outcomes in a multidimensional framework”, Cities, vol. 81, pp. 145-160.

YIGITCANLAR T., KAMRUZZAMAN M., FOTH M., SABATINI-MARQUES J., DA COSTA E., IOPPOLO G. (2019), “Can cities become smart without being sustainable? A systematic review of the literature”, Sustainable Cities and Society, vol. 45, pp. 348-365.

ZHUHADAR L., THRASHER E., MARKLIN S., DE PABLOS P.O. (2017), “The next wave of innovation-Review of smart cities intelligent operation systems”, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 66, n. 1, pp. 273-281.

ZIELIŃSKA A. (2019), “Comparative analysis of circular economy implementation in Poland and other european union countries”, Journal of International Studies, vol. 12, n. 4, pp. 337-347.

Published
2022-08-31