Circulate on Fridays: Facebook Marketplace, everlasting batteries & circular cities

Sound the klaxon! It’s Circulate on Fridays time. Stories about the power of networks, nodes and connections provide a (tenuous) theme for this batch of circular economy links. Assimilate this information and join the hivemind…

News this week from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, as the organisation announces the launch of the Circular Cities network, “a global network of city leaders who are pioneering the application of circular economy approaches to address today’s urban challenges”. The first nine cities involved are Austin, Boulder, Copenhagen, London, Ljubljana, New York City, Peterborough, Phoenix and Rio de Janeiro, with representatives meeting this week to discuss their view on the challenges and opportunities of embedding circular economy principles in their planning and operations.

UCI chemist Reginald Penner and doctoral student Mya Le Thai, shown, have developed a nanowire-based battery technology that allows lithium ion batteries to be recharged hundreds of thousands of times. Steve Zylius/UCI
UCI chemist Reginald Penner and doctoral student Mya Le Thai, shown, have developed a nanowire-based battery technology that allows lithium ion batteries to be recharged hundreds of thousands of times. Steve Zylius/UCI

Smartphones keep getting more powerful, with faster processors, better cameras, taking us to other worlds through VR, and speaking to devices around us to organise our life. But don’t we all just want better battery life? Researchers at UC Irvine reckon they’ve cracked it, creating a nanowire-based battery that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times. UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai ran the prototype through 200,000 cycles over three months without detecting any loss of capacity, whereas previous nanowire batteries have died after around 7,000 cycles. This clever chemistry could have big impacts for battery use in electronics like phones and computers, but also at larger scales in cars and spacecraft.

If you live in the US, UK, Australia, or New Zealand and updated your Facebook app this week, you might have noticed a new icon. The tech giant just rolled out Facebook Marketplace, a formalisation of the thousands of local buying and selling groups that have emerged over the years, as users leverage the social network to trade used and unwanted stuff. The new functionality means that Facebook Marketplace occupies a similar space as eBay, Gumtree or Craigslist, and despite being late to the party, could nudge its 1.7 billion users towards sharing and redistributing their idle assets. In the meantime, early adopters have been using the platform to peddle some more unusual items, such as baby hedgehogs, drugs and “what appeared to be prostitution”, according to the BBC.

Image: Facebook
Image: Facebook

BNP Paribas share advice on how financial institutions can take action to support the shift to a circular economy. Whilst the piece downplays the economic opportunities of the new framework, the key points on how banks should help finance initiatives in the circular economy and facilitate innovative business models are a good sign that circular economy activities could receive more backing from the financial sector in the future.

Andy Artz has an excellent, longish read on Hackernoon, about how the hive is the new network. It’s about social networks and software, but the significance goes well beyond, to how we can employ the hivemind to overcome complex challenges facing our economy.

“By increasing interaction and decreasing friction between nodes, they accelerate growth through virtually unlimited, real-time access to data and people.”

– Andy Artz

While we’re on the subject of complexity, check out this piece from OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on why we need to stop pretending an economy can be controlled. It signals the launch of an initiative called New Approaches to Economic Challenges, which will be right up your street if you’re a circular economy enthusiast.

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The Author

Joe Iles

Joe Iles

I'm Editor in Chief of Circulate and Digital Architect at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

When I'm not discussing the circular economy, I also love talking about digital media and online trends, memes, music, bad films and good beer.

You can find me on twitter @joeiles or email joe[at]

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