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Bio-based circular model for sustainable urban economies

The concept of circular economy has emerged as a dynamic proposition towards achieving sustainable global development. What is the role of bioenergy in forming a circular economy in cities? A consortium of Swedish and Brazilian partners explores potential trajectories starting with the city of Curitiba, Brazil.

Funded by:


Time period:

January 2018 – December 2021

(This project is built upon a preliminary project developed with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in 2017.)

Project partners:

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Federal University of Paraná (UFPR)

Federal University of Technology of Paraná (UTFPR)

Secretariat of Environment (SMMA) – Municipality of Curitiba


Circular economy offers an alternative to the current linear model of the economy, aiming at sustainable development. Cities hold a critical role in this transition as they host over half of the world’s inhabitants. At the same time, the global and urban population continues rising.

One of the pressing challenges faced by urban areas is related to solid waste management. Approximately 70% of the global waste is generated in cities. In this context, bioenergy offers an opportunity for establishing a circular path, thus transforming the challenges connected to waste into opportunities. Such transformations can have major impact on resource efficiency and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Aim and objectives

This project explores pathways to achieve sustainable waste management which allows to reuse, recycle and recover materials and energy in urban bio-based systems. To this purpose, we develop a bio-based circular recovery model (BCR-model) for cities. We investigate ways to link urban food production with solid waste management using the city of Curitiba, Brazil, as a starting point to build the model. The project is closely linked with the creation of a reference center for urban agriculture in Curitiba (see pictures above), which was announced during the Swedish Innovation Week in Brazil 2017 by the Mayor Rafael Greca.

Curitiba has long pioneered in the fields of sustainable mobility and environmental management. Municipal authorities recognize that rethinking the city’s waste management systems has the potential to generate social, economic and environmental benefits. By using Curitiba’s existing social schemes, we apply a bottom-up approach to link social and environmental agendas at the local level. Local initiatives are combined with scientific knowledge to build on existing knowledge and explore new development pathways. Various stakeholders are engaged in the process.


The BCR-model aims to serve as a tool and framework to develop effective solid waste management in Curitiba as well as in other cities around the world. As part of the effort, the project aims at contributing to enhance understanding on the concept of circular economy and the requirements for implementing such transformations in cities.


Teixeira, S. R., Silveira, S., Cubas, S. Avaliação e quantificação do desperdício de alimentos no gerenciamento dos resíduos de frutas, legumes e verduras gerados no mercado regional do Cajuru, Curitiba-PR, paper presented at CBESA 30th Brazilian Congress for Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, 16-19 June, Natal, Brazil. 2019.

Silveira, S. The role of bioenergy in a circular bio-based economy. AEAB2019 Applied energy symposium MIT: A+B. 22-24 May, Boston, USA. 2019.

Silveira, S., Björklund, S., Öhman, N. Potential business case for small-scale biogas production in Curitiba, paper presented at SIBESA 14th Italo-Brazilian Symposium for Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, 18-20 June, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. 2018.

Master Theses:

Remy, F. (2018). Potential for the anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the city of Curitiba, Brazil.

Björklund, S., Öhman, N. (2017). Biogas opportunities in Curitiba: Analysis of business potential for biogas production from municipal solid waste.

Project contact persons

Project manager

PhD student

European Climate and Energy Modelling Forum
Research Initiative on Sustainable Industry and Society (IRIS)
EMB3Rs project