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Towards Addressing Unintended Environmental Consequences: A Planning Framework
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7717-600X
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2459-0311
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0297-598X
2015 (English)In: Sustainable Development, ISSN 0968-0802, E-ISSN 1099-1719, Vol. 24, no 1, 1-17 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Efforts to decouple environmental impacts and resource consumption have been confounded by interactions and feedback between technical-economic, environmental and social aspects not considered prior to implementing improvement actions. This paper presents a planning framework that connects material flows and the socio-economic drivers that result in changes in these flows, in order to reduce conflicts between localized gains and global losses. The framework emphasizes the need for (i) having different settings of system boundaries (broader and narrower), (ii) explicitly accounting for causal relationships and feedback loops and (iii) identifying responsibilities between stakeholders (e.g. producers, consumers, collectors, recyclers, policy makers). Application of the framework is exemplified using the case of the global mobile phone product system. 'Product design and development' and 'Retailers and users as part of a collection system' were identified as central intervention points for implementing improvement strategies that included designing for longer life, designing for recycling and improving collection, designing for limiting phone hibernation time and internalizing external costs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. Vol. 24, no 1, 1-17 p.
Keyword [en]
Global sustainability, Physical resource management, Planning, Sustainable development, Systems thinking, Unintended environmental consequences
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-176245DOI: 10.1002/sd.1601ISI: 000370661900001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84958121991OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-176245DiVA: diva2:871498
Note

QC 20151116. QC 20160319

Available from: 2015-11-16 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Karma of Products: Exploring the Causality of Environmental Pressure with Causal Loop Diagram and Environmental Footprint
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Karma of Products: Exploring the Causality of Environmental Pressure with Causal Loop Diagram and Environmental Footprint
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Environmental pressures from consumer products and mechanisms of predetermination were examined in this thesis using causal loop diagram (CLD) and life cycle assessment (LCA) footprinting to respectively illustrate and provide some indicators about these mechanisms. Theoretical arguments and their practical implications were subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis, using secondary and primary data. A study integrating theories from various research fields indicated that combining product-service system offerings and environmental policy instruments can be a salient aspect of the system change required for decoupling economic growth from consumption and environmental impacts. In a related study, modes of system behaviour identified were related to some pervasive sustainability challenges to the design of electronic products. This showed that because of consumption and investment dynamics, directing consumers to buy more expensive products in order to restrict their availability of money and avoid increased consumption will not necessarily decrease the total negative burden of consumption. In a study examining product systems, those of washing machines and passenger cars were modelled to identify variables causing environmental impacts through feedback loops, but left outside the scope of LCA studies. These variables can be considered in LCAs through scenario and sensitivity analysis. The carbon, water and energy footprint of leather processing technologies was measured in a study on 12 tanneries in seven countries, for which collection of primary data (even with narrow systems boundaries) proved to be very challenging. Moreover, there were wide variations in the primary data from different tanneries, demonstrating that secondary data should be used with caution in LCA of leather products. A study examining pre-consumer waste developed a footprint metric capable of improving knowledge and awareness among producers and consumers about the total waste generated in the course of producing products. The metric was tested on 10 generic consumer goods and showed that quantities, types and sources of waste generation can differ quite radically between product groups. This revealed a need for standardised ways to convey the environmental and scale of significance of waste types and for an international standard procedure for quantification and communication of product waste footprint. Finally, a planning framework was developed to facilitate inclusion of unintended environmental consequences when devising improvement actions. The results as a whole illustrate the quality and relevance of CLD; the problems with using secondary data in LCA studies; difficulties in acquiring primary data; a need for improved waste declaration in LCA and a standardised procedure for calculation and communication of the waste footprint of products; and systems change opportunities for product engineers, designers and policy makers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm, Sweden: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. 77 p.
Series
TITRA-IM-PHD, 2016:01
Keyword
Products, Environmental Pressure, Causal Loop Diagram, Environmental Footprint
National Category
Environmental Engineering Other Environmental Engineering
Research subject
Industrial Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-184223 (URN)978-91-7595-910-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-05-11, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Sing-Sing, våningsplan 2, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Jury committee

Henrikke Baumann, Associate Professor

Chalmers University of Technology

Department of Energy and Environment

Division of Environmental System Analysis

Joakim Krook, Associate Professor

Linköpings Universitet

Department of Management and Engineering (IEI) / Environmental Technology and Management (MILJÖ)

Karl Johan Bonnedal, Associate Professor

Umeå University

Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE)

Sofia Ritzén, Professor

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

School of Industrial Engineering and Management

Department of Machine Design

Integrated Product Development

QC 20160405

Available from: 2016-04-08 Created: 2016-03-30 Last updated: 2016-04-11Bibliographically approved
2. Beyond Waste Management: Challenges to Sustainable Global Physical Resource Management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Beyond Waste Management: Challenges to Sustainable Global Physical Resource Management
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Current physical resource management (PRM) was investigated in a global perspective in this thesis, to gain a deeper understanding of its implications in a sustainability perspective. In particular, the main challenges to the current PRM system and the kinds of systemic changes needed for sustainable PRM were examined. In five separate studies, different theoretical and practical challenges to current PRM approaches were analysed. A descriptive literature review, causal loop diagrams and semi-structured interviews were performed to gather qualitative and quantitative inferences. Perspectives from industrial ecology, life cycle thinking, systems thinking and environmental philosophy were then applied to analyse global resource/waste management issues.

The analysis resulted in an overview of the global ecological sustainability challenges to current PRM and identification of major challenges to the global waste management system. Causal loop diagrams were used to qualitatively analyse the structure and behaviour of production and consumption systems responsible for unintended environmental consequences of purposive actions to improve material and energy efficiencies. Ways in which resource quality could be maintained throughout the system of production and consumption systems were determined by identifying challenges facing product designers while closing the material loops. A planning framework was devised to operationalise the sustainable development demands in society, including production and consumption systems.

A broader systems approach is proposed for future sustainable global PRM, focusing on ensuring societal functions within the human activity system. The approach involves designing and managing anthropogenic stocks of physical resources to reduce inflows of physical resources and outflows of wastes and emissions. Life cycle-based databases linking resource consumption with waste generation are needed for improved global PRM.

Abstract [sv]

I denna avhandling undersöktes fysisk resursanvändning i ett globalt perspektiv, för att få en djupare förståelse av dess konsekvenser i ett hållbarhetsperspektiv. Framför allt undersöktes de största utmaningarna med den aktuella fysiska resurshanteringen och vilka typer av systemförändringar som krävs för en hållbar fysisk resurshantering. I fem studier analyserades olika teoretiska och praktiska utmaningar för den nuvarande fysiska resurshanteringen. Litteraturstudier, kausala loopdiagram och semistrukturerade intervjuer genomfördes för att samla kvalitativ och kvantitativ information. Perspektiv från industriell ekologi, livscykeltänkande, systemtänkande och miljöfilosofi tillämpades för att analysera globala resurs- och avfallshanteringsfrågor.

Analysen resulterade i en översikt av den nuvarande fysiska resurshanteringens globala ekologiska hållbarhetsutmaningar och identifiering av stora utmaningar för den globala avfallshanteringen. Kausala loopdiagram användes för att kvalitativt analysera strukturen och beteendet hos de produktions- och konsumtionssystem som gör att ändamålsenliga åtgärder för att förbättra material- och energieffektivitet får oavsiktliga negativa miljökonsekvenser. Hur resurskvalitet kan upprätthållas i produktions- och konsumtionssystemen som helhet bestämdes genom att identifiera de utmaningar som produktdesigners möter när de sluter kretslopp av material. En planeringsmodell utformades för att operationalisera kraven på hållbar utveckling i samhället, bland annat produktions- och konsumtionssystem.

Ett bredare systemtänkande föreslås för en hållbar global fysisk resursförvaltning i framtiden, med fokus på att säkerställa samhällsfunktioner inom det mänskliga aktivitetssystemet. Tillvägagångssättet innebär att utforma och hantera antropogena fysiska resurser i syfte att: minska inflödet av fysiska resurser; och utflödet av avfall och utsläpp. Livscykelbaserade databaser som länkar resursanvändning till avfallsgenerering behövs för att förbättra den globala fysiska resursförvaltningen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. 145 p.
Series
TRITA-IM, ISSN 1402-7615 ; 2016:03
Keyword
Sustainable global physical resource management, global waste management, systems thinking, life cycle thinking, planning framework, global environmental justice, circular economy
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Industrial Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186517 (URN)978-91-7595-917-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-06-09, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
India4EU
Note

QC 20160516

Available from: 2016-05-16 Created: 2016-05-12 Last updated: 2016-05-16Bibliographically approved
3. Systems Modeling Approaches to Physical Resource Management: An Industrial Ecology Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Systems Modeling Approaches to Physical Resource Management: An Industrial Ecology Perspective
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many of the present problems that we are facing arise as unanticipated side-effects of our own actions. Moreover, the solutions implemented to solve important problems often create new problems. To avoid unintended consequences, understanding complex systems is essential in devising policy instruments and in improving environmental management. Thus, this thesis investigated systems modeling approaches to under- stand complex systems and monitor the environmental performance of management actions. The overall aim of the work was to investigate the usefulness of different systems modeling approaches in supporting environmental management. A driver- based, pressure-oriented approach was adopted to investigate systems modeling tools. Material/substance flow analysis, environmental footprinting, input-output analysis, process-based dynamic modeling, and systems dynamics modeling approaches were applied in different cases to investigate strengths and weaknesses of the tools in generating an understanding of complex systems. Three modeling and accounting approaches were also tested at different systems scales to support environmental mon- itoring. Static modeling approaches were identified as fundamental to map, account, and monitor physical resource metabolism in production and consumption systems, whereas dynamic modeling showed strengths in understanding complex systems. The results suggested that dynamic modeling approaches should be conducted on top of static analysis to understand the complexity of systems when devising and testing policy instruments. To achieve proactive monitoring, a pressure-based assessment was proposed instead of the mainstream impact/state-based approach. It was also concluded that the LCA community should shift the focus of its assessments to pressures instead of impacts. 

Abstract [sv]

Många nuvarande miljö- och utvecklingsproblem har uppstått som oförutsedda biverkningar av människans egna handlingar. De lösningar som prövats har i sin tur ofta skapat  nya problem. Det därför viktigt att förstå hur komplexa system fungerar och att utforma styrmedel och ledningssystem som minimerar risken för oönskade bieffekter. Den här avhandling har använt olika modelleringsmetoder för att öka förståelsen för komplexa system och bidra med kunskaper om hur miljöprestanda och förvaltningsåtgärder kan följas upp på ett mer effektivt sätt. Det övergripande syftet med arbetet var att undersöka användbarheten av olika modelleringsmetoder för att effektivisera den fysiska resurshanteringen i samhället. I arbetet har ett flödesbaserat och aktörsinriktat arbetssätt (pressure based and driver oriented approach) använts i modelleringen.  Material- och substansflödesanalys, miljöfotavtryck, input-output analys, processbaserad dynamisk modellering och systemdynamiska modelleringsmetoder studerades för att undersöka styrkor och svagheter hos de olika metoderna/verktygen.  Tre olika modellerings- och redovisningsmetoder för att stödja miljöövervakning testades också i olika systemskalor. Statiska modelleringsmetoder (räkenskaper) identifierades som grundläggande för att kartlägga, kontoföra och övervaka den fysiska resursmetabolismen i produktions- och konsumtionssystem, medan dynamisk modellering visade sin styrka i att skapa förståelse för komplexa system. Resultaten pekar på att dynamiska modelleringsmetoder bör användas som ett komplement till statiska analyser för att förstå komplexiteten i systemen när man utformar och testar styrmedel. För att uppnå proaktiv övervakning bör flödesbaserade räkenskaper utnyttjas i större utsträckning i stället för den vanliga tillstånds- och påverkansövervakningen (state/impact monitoring). En viktig slutsats är därför att LCA-samfundet bör flytta fokus i sina bedömningar från påverkan till flöden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. 74 p.
Series
TRITA-IM-PHD 2016:04, 2016:04
Keyword
Complex systems modeling, environmental accounting and monitoring, en- vironmental footprint, industrial ecology, pressure-based driver-oriented approach, Modellering av komplexa system, miljöräkenskaper och miljöövervakning, miljöpåverkan, industriell ekologi, flödesbaserad övervakningaktörsorienterad strategi
National Category
Energy Systems Environmental Management
Research subject
Industrial Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-191327 (URN)978-91-7729-077-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-09-22, Sal F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20160830

Available from: 2016-08-30 Created: 2016-08-29 Last updated: 2017-03-02Bibliographically approved

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