Mexico City ranks among the world’s top 30 cities with the most progress in transitioning toward a circular economy, according to a study by the Circular Cities Barometer. Since enacting its circular economy law in March 2022, the city has made progress in green public transportation initiatives, biking infrastructure and sustainable building certifications. These achievements, characterized by a quick pace and clear regulatory framework, provide valuable insights that can serve as a blueprint for other urban centers throughout Mexico.
“[The study’s] key tools include a voluntary circularity assessment procedure that allows companies to submit processes, products and services to see if they comply with circularity criteria; a circularity label, valid for three years, that companies are granted if they meet the criteria; and a public information system to inform people about the city’s circular economy,” reads the Circular Cities Barometer study.
Mexico City ranked 25th of 30 cities worldwide that are rapidly transitioning from a linear to a circular economy. Within this barometer, Mexico City stands as one of the three Latin American cities included in the list, after Buenos Aires ranking (20th) and Bogota (21st). The top five most progressive cities are London, the UK; Seattle, the US; Copenhagen,: Denmark; Paris, France; and Vienna; Austria.
The cities were selected from the nearly 100 C40 cities, a global network collaborating to address climate change. Each city was scored based on their performance along 12 indicators organized under four main categories: circular buildings, circular systems, circular living and circular leadership. The four categories were weighted equally at 25% to obtain an overall score of 100. Mexico City's overall score was 24.
According to the indicator, air quality in Mexico City has steadily improved. However, the city is surrounded by mountains that trap atmospheric pollutants, posing a substantial risk to residents.
Under the circular buildings category, the barometer recognized the Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento, the Office of the Mayor and the nation’s oldest library, as the oldest building in the world to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold for Existing Buildings certification. This is the result of renovation and investments in energy efficiency made in 2015. LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. As of 2020, 4% of buildings in the country received a LEED or EDGE certification, as reported by MBN.
In regard to mobility, the study noted that while traffic congestion is still a big problem in Mexico City, it has made significant strides to address this challenge. In February 2023, as part of its effort to electrify the entire bus fleet by 2035, the local government introduced 50 articulated electric buses on one of its bus routes. Support for the deployment of the buses and associated charging infrastructure was provided by the Zero-Emission Bus Rapid Deployment Accelerator. A partnership led by C40 Cities and the International Council on Clean Transport, which helps public authorities in Latin America deploy low-carbon, e-mobility projects.
Furthermore, the barometer highlighted Mexico City’s cycling culture, emphasizing that in the last few years, the local administration has created a truly connected bike network. Authorities have built over 225km of new bike infrastructure between 2019 and 2022, including ample and secure bike parking spots at metro connections and bus routes to encourage multi-modal travel.