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Resource recovery from post-consumer waste: Important lessons for the upcoming circular economy
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Industrial Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9215-0166
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
2016 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 134, no SI, 342-353 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A circular economy has been proposed as a sustainable alternative to our current linear economic system, mainly by recirculating material resources for new product development. To understand resource recirculation in practice, this paper analyses over 50 examples of products developed from discarded materials, categorising them into the recovery routes described in the circular economy literature. The examples were obtained during interviews with waste management professionals and designers who had developed products with discards. Practical challenges to implementing a circular economy were identified based on the example categorisation and comments from the interviews. The main difference observed was that the examples mostly recirculate resources to make different types of products, whereas a circular economy requires manufacturing companies to take back their own products to secure their material resources. This is partly because in practice the material collection system in place is waste management, rather than manufacturing-centred take-back systems. A revised model for recovery routes in society in which waste management is allocated an important role in facilitating material recirculation is therefore presented. The study highlights that current product design is facing a new challenge of anticipating social, economic and environmental challenges to realise the goals of a circular economy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 134, no SI, 342-353 p.
Keyword [en]
Resource recovery, Circular economy, Post-consumer waste, Re-manufacturing, Product design, Product study
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Industrial Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186515DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.12.020ISI: 000382409700031ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84969975684OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-186515DiVA: diva2:927515
Note

QC 20160512

Available from: 2016-05-12 Created: 2016-05-12 Last updated: 2016-09-23Bibliographically 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

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