From Waste Management to Natural Capital Management in the Circular Economy

  • Ragn-Sells Group
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The role of waste management (WM) has historically shifted in relation to factors such as the contemporary socio-technical context, societal challenges and priorities. The move toward a more circular economy (CE) is catalyzing a new trajectory that can have broad implications for WM; e.g. how the effectiveness of the sector is defined, how activities are prioritized and steered, and the portfolio of roles the sector will play. As such, alongside technical and business model innovation, established policy and principles for WM will need to be renewed if WM organizations are to be incentivized to more fully support the aims of the CE. This chapter explores some of the barriers identified by industry, including circulation costs and resource valuation issues. Subsequently, potential strategies for aligning the WM sector with the CE are suggested.

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... (Wittenveen & Bos, 2018) "valuable construction materials can be rematerialized into valuable construction materials" "To understand the potential value of circular materials, products, and systems," "recovering value and maximizing circular aspects, including material health" "instrument for implementation of the Urban Mining strategy" "enables circularity in the built environment" "to improve on data collection of quality material that is available in existing buildings or storages" and "having a material passport available at an early design stage can support the use of circular materials and a time-consuming search may bee avoided" (Wieser, 2021) "Keep or increase the value of materials, products, components over time" from "aims to provide the required elements to promote the construction of more circular and resilient cities, where materials are identified in a database, removed and reused numerous times" from "for reuse and recyling of materials" from "promoting the increase in the value of building materials and the sustainability of buildings" 36/ 39 G.1 Identification of reuse value in the product "Thus, it serves as valuable information source for e.g. determination of the material value of the building, scheduling the thermal renovation of buildings, planning of sustainable waste streams, and making materials available publicly" "material passports aim at measuring circularity for building components to facilitate minimal use and re-use of raw material throughout the lifecycle of the construction project" (Chahine, 2021) "reuse of materials in constructions" (Ikiz Kaya et al., 2019) "valuation issues"... "can help to alleviate the market disconnect post user" (Aid and Lazarevic, 2020) "to give the materials the value to recover them" (van Gameren, 2020) "to foster the recyclability of building materials." (Minunno et al., 2020) "Material modifications also entail synergies with -product ecosystem|| (INT 14) due to the transfer of information on material content to downstream actors with material passports." ...
The Handbook of the Circular Economy covers the issue to which it is dedicated in a manner as comprehensive as possible within the scope of a handbook. This final chapter identifies and addresses some key issues related to circular economy: how it can be implemented sustainably taking into account its limitations, the role of analytical tools, barriers and how to overcome them, and concluding remarks. The circular economy is a viable alternative to the linear economy. By maximising the value of resources along the life cycles of the products that contain them, resources can be used more efficiently and effectively, and negative environmental, economic and social impacts associated with the life cycle of products can be minimised. Hence, the circular economy offers a clear solution that meets current policy goals. There is tremendous scope for increasing the share of the circular economy in the global economy.
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The take-make-waste approach to resource management in human production and consumption systems is contributing to a variety of environmental and social problems worldwide. Additionally, as the world’s population and affluence increase, so do the negative impacts of poor resource management. Lifting the waste management (WM) sector into a new phase of development, which takes its lead from the ideals of Industrial Ecology and circular economy, is seen by many scholars and practitioners as one potential to assist in alleviating these impacts. While there are many studies on how more efficient inter-organizational resource management is (or could be) constructed, there are relatively few business development studies which have explored novel approaches (from roles to tactics) that WM organizations might operationalize toward more efficient resource management. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the development of knowledge and understanding of how the waste management sector can operationalize more effective and efficient resource management. In approaching this aim, two research questions guided the exploration of: 1) novel roles for WM and 2) support tactics for such roles. Grounded in the broader context of Industrial Ecology (IE) and Business Development, five studies were performed. Two studies, focused on the novel roles of inter-organizational resource management and high value secondary resource extraction, were performed through literature review and interviews, and market driver analysis respectively. In exploring support tactics, two design and proof of concept studies were carried out to investigate data analysis tools for inter-organizational resource management, and one long-term action research engagement project was coordinated to study hands-on inter-organizational collaboration tactics. The studies highlighted that the Swedish WM sector holds some key capacities for operationalizing (and in some cases, is already developing) the novel resource management roles identified: industrial symbiosis facilitator, eco-industrial park manager, holistic facility management, and high value resource extractor. However, depending on the portfolio of services to be performed in such roles, several capacities may need to be developed or strengthened. Main opportunities seen for these roles were – staying ahead of market developments, and aligning activities with organizational goals. The main general risk related to these roles was insufficient returns on investment. Looking forward, the main enablers identified were policy leadership for more balanced market mechanisms, increasing use of external knowledge, developing long term partnerships, lobbying, stockpiling resources, and carefully crafting new business models. The tools developed for strategically applying external information toward the identification of opportunities within new roles showed tactical potential. However, their implementation in broader development processes has yet to be fully validated. The hands-on exploration of change oriented collaboration, highlighted collective system framing and goal setting and face-to-face interaction as key activities for inter-organizational approaches within roles such as industrial symbiosis facilitator. Throughout the studies, several novel roles were investigated. Each of these roles will need to be individually evaluated by directing bodies of WM organizations, and evaluated from the organization’s vision and strategy. If certain roles are chosen to be explored in more detail, they will need to be developed within full business models - addressing issues such as income structure, internal processes and capacities to be developed, and key customers. Through applying IE and business development concepts and findings, WM organizations have possibilities to translate ambitious visions into novel offerings.
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There have long been calls from industry for guidance in implementing strategies for sustainable development. The Circular Economy represents the most recent attempt to conceptualize the integration of economic activity and environmental wellbeing in a sustainable way. This set of ideas has been adopted by China as the basis of their economic development (included in both the 11th and the 12th ‘Five Year Plan’), escalating the concept in minds of western policymakers and NGOs. This paper traces the conceptualisations and origins of the Circular Economy, tracing its meanings, and exploring its antecedents in economics and ecology, and discusses how the Circular Economy has been operationalized in business and policy. The paper finds that while the Circular Economy places emphasis on the redesign of processes and cycling of materials, which may contribute to more sustainable business models, it also encapsulates tensions and limitations. These include an absence of the social dimension inherent in sustainable development that limits its ethical dimensions, and some unintended consequences. This leads us to propose a revised definition of the Circular Economy as “an economic model wherein planning, resourcing, procurement, production and reprocessing are designed and managed, as both process and output, to maximize ecosystem functioning and human well-being”.
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Explored the role of attentional processes in voluntary delay of reward by manipulating children's attention to the rewards for which they were waiting in a delay-of-gratification paradigm. 32 preschool children waited for a preferred but delayed reward while facing either the delayed reward, a less preferred but immediately available reward, both rewards, or no rewards. The dependent measure was the amount of time they waited for the preferred outcome before forfeiting it for the sake of the less desired but immediately available one. Results contradict predictions from psychodynamic theory and from speculations concerning self-instructions during time binding. Unexpectedly, but in accord with frustrative nonreward theory, voluntary waiting time was substantially increased when Ss could not attend to rewards during the waiting period. Implications are discussed for a theory of the development of delay of gratification. (22 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Even though it’s well known to mankind that our common resources are limited and that recycling is a key for a sustainable future; in reality we see few examples of true recycling where virgin raw material is substituted by waste. There are endless number of examples where waste is utilized to some extent without solving the core issue: reducing the need of extracting virgin raw materials. This article analyses some of the driving forces and inhibitors that explains why it’s so difficult establish secondary stock extraction although technology is available. The authors discuss and suggest possible ways for reducing the some of the main barriers.
The European Union (EU) has set its sights on becoming a circular economy, envisaging a transition that implies systemic changes in natural resource transformations and material flows; and offering a response to what is commonly labelled as the ‘take-make-dispose’ conventional economic model. What does the transition toward a circular economy entail and what can it do? This paper analyses the emergence and mobilisation of expectations that are shaping the EU transition to a circular economy. It traces the narrative elements through which the circular economy is configured through an analysis of position papers presented to inform the debate on the European Commission’s circular economy package. Expectations for the circular economy are articulated as: (1) a perfect circle of slow material flows; (2) a shift from consumer to user; (3) growth through circularity and decoupling; and (4) a solution to European renewal. Extending boundaries of what is ‘in’ benefits actors driving the circular economy as, in the short-term, they can actively support a deliberately vague, but uncontroversial, circular economy. On the one hand, the expectations present a strong sense of a collective ‘we’, on the other hand we are yet to see the contentions and contestations being full playing out.
Several waste management (WM) professionals see an ongoing shift in the focus of the industry, from that of a transport and treatment sector to that of a more integrated sustainable service provision and material production sector. To further develop such transitional ambitions, WM organizations are increasingly looking toward inter-organizational resource network concepts (such as the circular economy and industrial symbiosis) as models of how they would like to create new value together with their customers and partners. This article aims to take a step in addressing uncertainties behind such transitions by analyzing barriers for inter-organizational resource management and in turn uncovering some potential opportunities and risks of novel offerings from the WM sector. Obstacles for developing innovative inter-organizational resource networks have been identified based on studies of implementing industrial symbiosis networks. Subsequently, managing executives from Swedish private and public WM organizations were interviewed regarding the sector’s capacity to overcome such barriers – opportunities and risks of providing new resource management services – and how their organizations might approach the role of actively facilitating more resource efficient regions. Eco-Industrial park management and contracting out holistic resource management are some areas in which the respondents see WM organizations offering new services. In relation to such approaches, various risks (e.g. being cut out of investment benefits, or unstable supply) and opportunities (e.g. new markets and enhanced sustainability profiles) were identified. Additionally, it was seen that WM companies would need to make substantial changes to their business approach, becoming less dependent on flows of mixed materials for example, if they are to become even more central value chain actors. To strengthen such approaches, it was seen that the sector will need to find methods to strategically build strong, long term partnerships, expand upon and take advantage of available knowledge resources (i.e. best practice technologies and regional material flows), and explore new business models (i.e. stockpiling, park management, or waste minimization). Additionally, working with sector representatives to argue for a more balanced market conditions next to primary production should assist the viability of new offerings in the wider market.
This chapter compares the national regimes for the management of municipal solid waste in the five countries concerned: France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands. The analysis is based exclusively on national case studies carried out in these countries according to a common methodology, and published in a previous volume in the Kluwer Environment and Management series.1
Waste management in Europe has experienced significant changes since the 1970s. The majority of Member State waste management regimes have shifted from policies based on the control of waste disposal activities, to include goals for waste prevention and recovery. The rapid increase of plastic packaging recycling in Germany had a number of unintended consequences. In the first years of the Packaging Ordinance, the majority of plastic packaging collected was exported to China, Eastern Europe, and other EU Member States due to lack of national capacity. The setting of high recycling targets for plastic packaging waste between 1991 and 1998 and the prohibition of incineration with energy recovery was a key driver of recycling technology innovation in Germany. When adopting new principles to serve as the foundation of belief, they should synchronize with the existing waste management myths of individual regions, as myths may differ from region to region illustrating different cultural ideals.
This article examines and contrasts the level of Swedish governmental subsidies to two different ways of producing metal: the metal recycling sector and the metal mining sector. In 2010, the metal mining sector was subsidized by € 40 million and the metal recycling sector € 0.6 million. If the exemption from landfill tax is considered a subsidy, the level of subsidization to the metal mining sector changes drastically to approximately € 4000 million. Regardless of how the concept “subsidy” is defined, the metal mining sector in total and per tonne of metal produced is fundamentally more highly subsidized than the metal recycling sector. The value added per tonne of metal produced for the metal recycling sector appears to be higher than for the metal mining sector. The current dominant trend in the Swedish mineral strategy is nevertheless to increase the level of subsidization to the metal mining sector.
The development of novel symbiosis products based on primary industrial residues in accordance with the systemic approaches of Industrial Ecology (IE) and Industrial Symbiosis (IS) has significant potential to increase the environmental performance of process industry, including more material and energy efficient processes and with lower environmental impacts. What is more, functionally innovative symbiosis products have the potential to promote residue utilisation and recovery and to prevent or reduce waste generation in line with the EU level ‘recycling society’ concept. However, successful product development requires an enabling institutionally aligned environmental approach that includes appropriate market incentives and regulatory instruments. This paper aims to identify the possible institutional barriers in the EU legal framework that have to be addressed to promote the development of such primary residue based process industry symbiosis products, with thorough consideration of full product life-cycles. Recommendations for overcoming these barriers and on the design of new approaches that support industrial symbiosis and contribute to progress towards sustainable societies are also outlined. These include enhanced focus on creating an enabling institutional environment for industrial innovations and the promotion of material efficiency through incentives policies and regulations, as well as soft law guidance on novel uses of materials and closure of resource cycles. Making a wider system more sustainable on an eco-efficiency basis also calls the definition of system boundaries into question. Applying a systemic approach, such as that offered by both IE and IS, which cover sustainability and recycling to achieve more resource efficient systems, appears to offer a way forward. We argue that the development of process industry residue based products can be significantly promoted and advanced by co-operative and joint design of appropriate incentives, policies and regulations. A major question is whether the REACH Regulation would apply to residue based symbiosis products if their creation makes them no longer legally classified as waste under end-of-waste legislation. We use a synthetic symbiosis product group concept based on the utilisation of steel, paper and pulp process industry primary residues as a case study to assess the development potential of such products against legal requirements and policy objectives.
Common to all manufacturing companies is the need to control the flow of material from suppliers, through the value adding processes and distribution channels, to customers. The supply chain is the connected series of activities which is concerned with planning, co-ordinating and controlling material, parts and finished goods from supplier to customer. Traditionally, the flow of material has been considered only at an operational level. No longer, however, can the potential of integrating the supply chain be ignored. Companies that manage the supply chain as a single entity and ensure the appropriate use of tools and techniques in order to meet the needs of the market, will not get left behind in the fight for survival.
Over the last decade there has been a growing interest in depreciation of natural capital in national income accounts. Within this literature there has been limited discussion of the sensitivity of measurement to the choice of discount rate and the effect of using depreciated measures of growth in empirical analyses. Without attempting to estimate or justify a specific discount rate, this paper presents alternative sets of growth data for 18 African countries based on different assumptions of the appropriate discount rate to apply to natural capital. The data sets are then used in a statistical test of the causes of economic growth. Results of the statistical analysis indicate sensitivity to the choice of discount rate.
The material recovery methods used by dust-yards in early 19th century London, England and the conditions that led to their development, success and decline are reported. The overall system developed in response to the market value of constituents of municipal waste, and particularly the high coal ash content of household 'dust'. The emergence of lucrative markets for 'soil' and 'breeze' products encouraged dust-contractors to recover effectively 100% of the residual wastes remaining after readily saleable items and materials had been removed by the thriving informal sector. Contracting dust collection to the private sector allowed parishes to keep the streets relatively clean, without the need to develop institutional capacity, and for a period this also generated useful income. The dust-yard system is, therefore, an early example of organised, municipal-wide solid waste management, and also of public-private sector participation. The dust-yard system had been working successfully for more than 50 years before the Public Health Acts of 1848 and 1875, and was thus important in facilitating a relatively smooth transition to an institutionalised, municipally-run solid waste management system in England. The dust-yards can be seen as early precursors of modern materials recycling facilities (MRFs) and mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) plants; however, it must be emphasised that dust-yards operated without any of the environmental and occupational health considerations that are indispensable today. In addition, there are analogies between dust-yards and informal sector recycling systems currently operating in many developing countries.
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