Malmö, Sweden

Promoting resource-efficient actions with a focus on social impacts to achieve climate neutrality by 2030

About Malmö, Sweden

Malmö is Sweden’s third largest city and a multicultural hub. It has been one of the earliest and most industrialized towns in Scandinavia, and was considered an industrial wasteland for many years due to its shipyard and other heavy industries.

With time, Malmö has transformed into a sustainable city founded on knowledge and sustainability thanks to the city’s efforts to implement front-running sustainable interventions. In 2015, the City of Malmö was the first municipality in Sweden to sign a declaration of commitment to work to achieve the global goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2030. 

However, Malmö’s ecological footprint still needs to be reduced. With a total waste generation of 473 kilos per inhabitant, the city must undergo a transition towards a more circular economy where spillage and waste is minimized and energy efficiency is facilitated. Products, materials and resources must be fully utilized, re-used where possible, and finally recycled.

Watch the video to learn more about Malmö’s circular initiatives.

Ambitions of the city

As a signatory city of the European Circular Cities Declaration, Malmö aims to incentivize circular urban development through net-zero initiatives, together with the industrial sector and its citizens. Several strategic plans are integrating Circular Economy approaches to facilitate this vision: the Goal 12 of the Environmental Programme for the City of Malmö 2021-2030, the Waste and Eco-cycle Plan 2021-2030, and the Strategy for Climate Neutral Constructions in cooperation with the Local Roadmap for Malmö 2030 are documents that directly address the need for ‘’resource efficiency’’. Circular development efforts across action plans can be translated into a set of priorities that the city is currently focusing on.

Malmö's circular development priorities

  • Circular buildings and construction

    In Sweden, the construction sector accounts for more than 20% of the country’s total environmental impact, and between 80-90% of the environmental impact of furniture is linked to the materials and components used to produce it. With the goal of being climate-neutral by 2030, Malmö is the first city in Sweden to have developed a local roadmap for a climate-neutral building sector – LFM30. Local construction industries have also signed the Climate Neutral Building partnership, which have identified recycled and upcycled materials as the core to carbon reduction.

  • Circular water systems

    In Malmö, almost 70 million cubic meters enter the wastewater system annually. The city approaches ‘waste-water’ as ‘resource-water’ and foresees abundant circular solutions and business opportunities from it in the near future. Not only the city needs to be more water-smart and efficient, but inside the resource-water, future opportunities to recover hydrogen and biochar, among other yet-unknown solutions, are seen on the horizon. Moreover, Malmö has been making use of local green spaces to close the water recovery system. By incorporating local vegetation, rainwater is connected to the sea through open storm water management.

  • Circular food systems

    The municipality of Malmö, with a procurement value of around 0.9 billion euros per year, is currently making efforts to increase circularity in their school meals service through the promotion of organic and plant-based food. The city of Malmö purchases about 8,500 tons of food every year (worth €24 million), serving 65,000 lunches a day. Closing the loop on food systems is attracting new business opportunities to the city, and this can be seen in the number of new enterprises growing among rescued food.

Malmö's circular development initiatives

Incentivizing circular furniture through public procurement

 In 2018, the city decided to pilot a procurement approach aimed at increasing the reuse of furniture, while driving as much attention as possible to existing internal services. This framework includes office furniture, conference furniture, and preschool and school furniture. In addition to the City administration, the framework is also used by Malmö’s seven publicly owned companies. In order to ensure this framework has the desired impacts, Malmö has been implementing these standards with a special focus on awareness-raising and behavioral change. Moreover, in relation to public procurement, the city is also experimenting with circular materials to use as an alternative to plastics in all-weather football pitches and playgrounds, as well as with the procurement of baby strollers and buses.

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Center for circular construction (CCBuild) and Circular Builders project

​​To strengthen the city’s and the local business community’s capacity to transition towards circular construction, the city of Malmö participates in the national initiative “Center for circular construction”, often called CCBuild, which is an arena where industry actors, municipalities and academia meet and collaborate on through a sharing platform for construction materials, knowledge sharing and best practices e.g., recycling and circular material flows during construction, demolition and management. In a similar light of CCBuild, the Circular Builders project, a Danish-Swedish cooperation in a project for circular construction and demolition that Malmö participates in. This project aims to incentivize the development of innovative and circular solutions in construction through demonstration projects, and exchange of experiences and scaling. In Malmö, the demolition of the hovercraft terminal has been highlighted as a best practice.

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ProCirc project

Malmö participates in the ProCirc project, together with other municipalities of the North Sea Region. This project aims to accelerate circular economy principles implementation through procurement power, alliance and capacity-building. Each of the 30 pilots aims to reduce raw materials usage, waste production and CO2 emissions by 20-25%. Insights and tools regarding specific sectors like construction, furniture and ICT will be disseminated in the North Sea region by creating an active transnational network on the topic. In Malmö, procurement of circular navigation signs has been a direct result of the ProCirc project. The contract for the signs of the city includes their procurement from reusing markets when possible, and when necessary, a requirement for new signs to include circular principles such as reused materials like aluminium, and signs that are made for reuse and disassembly.

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REWAISE: Resource-water for circularity

The REWAISE project proposes a paradigm shift towards a carbon-neutral water cycle, addressing technological, financial, legal and social issues to fully harness the value of water. Current efforts focus on extracting and benefiting from the dissolved substances and energy inherent in raw and used water streams, and the promotion of economic activities and businesses related to the water sector. The living lab of Malmö pioneers in rain and storm water reutilization, as well as in nutrient recovery.

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Promotion of circular food systems through public procurement

Working together with the different departments within the city has been key to a successful promotion of circular food systems through public procurement, specifically in public canteens. In schools, meat is on the menu once or twice a week, fish once or twice weekly and vegetarian meals at least twice a week, in accordance with the nutritional recommendations of the Swedish Food Agency. Malmö is also cooperating with actors outside of the city. Its close relationship with suppliers has helped the city reach food and climate goals by sourcing high-quality, plant-based options, as well as improving the variety of organic produce on offer. But there are still challenges to overcome: Food waste reduction needs to be more drastic; cooperation with schools can be strengthened; acceptance rates of plant-based meals have to pick up. The City of Malmö is committed to working towards a sustainable Malmö with healthy, climate friendly food served in our pre-schools, schools and care homes.

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First circular large-scale facility for textile sorting

SIPTex is the world’s first large-scale facility of its kind, owned by Sysav, a clothing recycling company that handles almost one million tons of waste per year. The machine sorts textile waste so that it can move to the next step of the value chain and eventually become new fabric. SIPTex is the world’s first machine able to sort textiles by color and fiber composition at high-speed using near-infrared light. This technology makes it possible to handle large flows and produce textile fractions that are then adapted to different recycling processes. Today’s manual sorting of textiles can not match the market’s need for quality-assured products. Automated sorting is the link that is currently missing between collection and high-quality textile recycling. Therefore, Siptex will contribute to increased circularity in the textile value chain and strengthen Sweden’s position as a pioneer in innovation and circular economy. The facility aims to become a game changer as the solution to the missing link in the chain to create a circular loop for textile in Sweden and Europe.

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