Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Towards a Concerted Approach to Physical Resource Management
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Industrial Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9215-0166
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the past few decades, substantial improvements in well-being for a large fraction of the global population have been possible, partly thanks to the exploitation of natural resources. These improvements have been accompanied by large amounts of raw material inflows and outflows of residues/wastes/emissions, which together threaten global sustainability. This study examined some of these sustainability challenges facing current global physical resource management due to the increasing inflows of physical resources to the human activity system and the increasing outflows from that system. For this purpose, the annual production rates and the global resource reserves of 12 natural resources, including major resources for energy (oil, natural gas and coal), agricultural inputs (phosphorus, water and zinc) and industrial production (the rare earth and precious metals) were studied. The results indicate that global reserves of gold, silver, copper, zinc and antimony can sustain their current production rates for only 15-30 years. The longevity of global reserves of oil and phosphorus has increased over the past two decades. The global reserves of natural gas have more than doubled, but the longevity has not increased due to the increasing production rates. Overall, the results show that the global community could simultaneously experience several resource peaks in the coming 30-40 years, leading to inflow-driven economic, technological and social resource supply constraints. They also indicate that the resource supply risks for many resources have not decreased, despite increasing global reserves over the past two decades. In a global context, these findings emphasise the need for recognising and managing the ecological constraints to increasing inflows of physical resources and the outflows of wastes and emissions.

Keyword [en]
Sustainable physical resource management
National Category
Environmental Sciences Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Industrial Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186508OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-186508DiVA: diva2:927497
Note

QC 20160518

Available from: 2016-05-12 Created: 2016-05-12 Last updated: 2016-05-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. 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

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Singh, Jagdeep
By organisation
Industrial Ecology
Environmental SciencesOther Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 9 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link