Spatialising urban metabolism: the supermarket as a hub for food circularity

Emma Campbell*, Greg Keeffe, Sean Cullen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Cities today sit within a global, linear economy, functioning as significant sites of consumption. Resources tend to be imported into cities, consumed, with the remaining waste expelled into the atmosphere or moved outside of the city boundaries for management. This means that urban resource use and waste is difficult to see. Cities are often acknowledged as physical spaces, however the concept of urban metabolism offers a different perspective, visualising them by quantified and interconnected inputs and outputs to reveal what cannot be seen by the human eye. Existing urban metabolism methodologies remain abstract and data-centric and lack an approach to implement physical or tangible interventions. As such, this chapter explores how the spatial visualisation of urban metabolism might help to reveal the shape and impact of urban flows to catalyse spatial shifts towards a circular economy. Through systems thinking, research-by-design, and drawing approaches, the text focuses on how supermarkets currently influence urban food, food waste, and packaging flows in UK cities and explores how they might be reprogrammed to achieve urban food circularity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMinerals and waste
EditorsMario Tribaudino, Daniel Vollprecht , Alessandro Pavese
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783031161353
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2023

Publication series

NameEarth and Environmental Sciences Library
ISSN (Print)2730-6682
ISSN (Electronic)2730-6682


  • Urban Metabolism
  • Research-by-design
  • Circular Economy
  • Spatial Visualisation
  • Supermarket
  • Drawing


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