7 lessons from the first resource metabolic analysis in Asia

The city of Almaty, Kazakhstan is the first city outside of Europe which completed a detailed metabolic analysis to identify circular economy opportunities.

The metabolism scan was a joint effort of Shifting Paradigms, Circle Economy, Centre for Sustainable Production and Consumption (CSPC), FABRICations and Emerging Markets Sustainability Dialogues (EMSD). In a metabolic analysis, all resource flows are mapped out, tracing materials from their origin to their usage and eventual destination. Mapping out urban resource flows reveals how a city uses its resources to satisfy the needs of its citizens for shelter, nutrition and mobility. This blog tells you what we’ve learned from the start of this initiative 8 months ago.

1. In the transition to a circular economy, nobody starts from scratch

To understand the story behind the data and which circular economy opportunities are realistic, we mapped out already existing circular economy initiatives in Almaty. The report describes 40 circular initiatives, ranging from small start-ups to large government programmes. The overview of inspiring initiatives which are were already ongoing in Almaty, shows that the circular economy is not new to the city, and that there already is a solid basis to work from.

2. Focus on key processes, rather than sectors

Circular construction

3. Connect with the immediate challenges of the city

The urban planning bureaus of Almaty lacked an informed environmental perspective in their planning and design activities. The circular economy analysis filled that gap.

Impression of food production and recreation in new residential areas

4. Visuals are crucial to be able to oversee the immense amount of data

Overview of all resource flows in Almaty

5. Language matters

6. Look beyond the city boundaries and consider upstream impacts

7. Crisp, colourful design helps get the message across



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Circle Economy

Circle Economy


We empower businesses, cities and nations with practical and scalable solutions to put the circular economy into action.