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The circular economy is a new economic model that breaks with the linear model. It is more respectful of the environment and is often presented as an opportunity for sustainable development. From a literature review on this issue, the objective of our article is to focus on the territorial dimension of the circular economy. We present the main issues for future research on territorial innovations, territorial embeddedness, resources and sustainability of circularity.
Circularities in territories: opportunities
& challenges
Sebastien BOURDIN, EM Normandie
The need to change production and consumption patterns
The dominant economic model is linear. Since the industrial revolution, it has become firmly
established in production and consumption patterns. Characterised by the overexploitation of
resources, as well as the massive production of products (goods and services) and waste, it
consists of extracting raw materials for the manufacture of products distributed and sold to
consumers who use and throw them away as waste at the end of their life cycle. This process
requires many resources and primary energy, particularly fossil fuels that emit GHGs
(greenhouse gas).
Global economic growth has undeniably enabled the creation and accumulation of wealth to
meet peoples basic needs for food, shelter, travel or recreation and to raise their general
standard of living (OECD, 2018). However, the sustainability of this linear growth economic
system is now being strongly questioned (Lieder and Rashid, 2016). Indeed, the scarcity of
natural and energy resources, as a result of their overexploitation, is leading to an increase in
the price of raw materials, creating tensions in a world with a rapidly growing population and
an increasingly globalised economy (Preston, 2012; Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015).
Rising commodity prices and increasing climate change disrupt local markets and production
systems, affecting socio-economic actors in the territories.
In a context where environmental challenges require consuming less resources and a drastic
reduction in polluting emissions, several public action mechanisms have been put in place,
particularly by the European Union (EU). In a 2005 statement, the European Commission
committed member countries to ensure the ecological transition of economies towards a more
resource-efficient and less environmentally damaging system (European Commission, 2005).
The aim is to decouple economic growth from resource use and reduce negative environmental
impacts while ensuring the sustainability and competitiveness of the EU economy. This was
reflected in the adoption in 2008 of the energy-climate package followed by the 2030 climate
and energy framework. This commits Europe to reduce overall GHG emissions by 40% from
the 1990 levels by 2030, increasing the share of renewable energy sources to 32% and
improving energy efficiency by at least 32.5% (European Commission, 2014). More recently,
the Green Deal for Europe was adopted to accelerate the transition toward a resource-efficient
and climate-neutral society by 2050 (European Commission, 2019 and 2019).
Towards a circular economic transformation
In order to radically change production and consumption patterns, a new economic model has
gained popularity: the circular economy. As the circular economy concept is attracting growing
interest in the public debate, several political actors and the scientific community have
appropriated this notion, in particular, to contribute to its definition and shedding light on its
definition modes, conditions and tools of implementation. Today, there is still no internationally
recognised academic definition of the circular economy concept (Murray et al., 2017; Khoronen
et al., 2018), and many definitions coexist in the literature (Kirchherr et al., 2017).
The term circular economy was first used in 1990 by economists David W. Pearce and R. Kerry
Turner in their book, Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment (Pearce and Turner,
1989). Ghisellini et al. (2016) show that the ideas entangled within the circular economy
concept come from several disciplines, such as ecological economics, environmental
economics and industrial ecology. The authors identify significant divergences in the
theoretical frameworks mobilised in the international literature by the scientific communities,
who appropriate the concept differently. The circular economy is sometimes equated with the
green economy or the bioeconomy, and often even relegated to the sole issue of waste treatment.
Such an abundance of definitions and notions surrounding the circular economy concept leads
to some confusion in its understanding, at the risk of a possible decline (Kirchherr et al., 2017).
However, they all agree on application principles, highlighting the need for a new virtuous
economic model opposed to the linear economic system. The circular economy promotes a
more sustainable and environmentally responsible model of economic development, which
aims to reconcile economic growth with environmental protection. This economy aims to
change the practices of the linear system (to extract, produce, consume and then throw away
before extracting again).
Integrating the territorial dimension of circular economy
In the context of socio-ecological and energy transition, many countries present public policies
promoting the circular economy as levers for change and evolution of practices and technical,
economic and organisational models. There is a strong challenge in producing new coordination
and new modes of national and international governance (Kern et al., 2020). But states are also
launching national circular economy plans that are implemented at the local level. The changes
brought about by the implementation of the circular economy can be significant: changes in
production models, the end of external dependence on resources (territorial autonomy) and the
optimisation of the territorys resources.
The local nature of the actions implemented is distinguished by a multiplicity of territories and
deployment spaces, which are often unequal according to the strategies of the actors and their
scale of intervention (Torre and Dermine-Brullot, 2019). These actions take place in rural
(Salvia et al., 2018) or urban areas (Sanchez Levoso et al., 2020), within a company or an
industrial zone, at the level of administrative territories, or even nationally (Ghisellini et al.,
2016). This question of the territorial and spatial inscription of circular activities or actions is
newly posed in the literature as a major issue for considering a new mode of territorial
development and wellbeing (Cesaretti et al., 2017) around the circular economy.
The necessary territorialisation of the circular economy thus refers to the reasoned use of
territorial resources and the control of the circulation of flows (Bourdin and Torre, 2020). It
concerns the extent of the geographical limits beyond which any circular economy practice is
compromised by the appearance of negative environmental externalities, due in particular to
the transport of products, resources or waste. It also concerns the capacity of actors to coordinate
within a territory to implement the circular economy. This raises the question of the
organisation and coordination of actors, which plays a decisive role in the territoriality of the
exchange links at work, whether they are technical, social or economic.
Contents of special issue
The widely debated issue of locally rooted activities (territorialisation) is gaining renewed
interest because of the development of initiatives aimed at creating new links between the actors
of a territory for transition(s). These links may be between waste and by-products producers
and those who use it as a resource (circular economy, territorial ecology), between actors that
value biomass or environmental innovations (circular bioeconomy, eco-industrial networks) or
links between production and consumption activities (local-based forestry chains, agrifood
systems). These public and private initiatives highlight their potential economic, social and
environmental virtues and sustainability, and their ability to strengthen geographical proximity
and its potential outputs. Whether they are food, non-food chain or circular economy
approaches, their purpose is to build circulations and circularities in the territories to promote
the relocation of economic activities or even achieve territorial autonomy in certain areas. They
also have two points in common: that of linking stakeholders and activities that were not
necessarily previously linked and that of using the circulation of material and immaterial flows
and natural resources (food, wood, biomass, energy) as a vector for structuring these new
coordinations. Therefore, we can wonder how these initiatives reconfigureor notthe
mechanisms and dynamics of production, innovation, local anchoring, inter-territoriality and
spatial distribution of activities. The aim of this special issue is to question the relationship
between circularity and territory and provide an overview of the links between territories and
circular economy through literature reviews and case studies.
The first contribution to the special issue (Veyssière, Laperche & Blanquart) offers a review of
the literature on the link between the circular economy (CE) and territorial development. Based
on the observation that the circular economy is more often studied at the firm level than at the
territorial level, the authors propose a systematic literature review that provides an overview of
the links between the circular economy and the territorial development process (TDP). The
authors consider the latter as the product of the interaction between three dimensions:
coordination modalities between the stakeholders, institutional factors and the resources. They
study how the TDP is addressed by the literature on circular economyespecially in the fields
of industrial ecology and industrial symbiosisby analysing how these three dimensions are
taken into account. They show that those dimensions are well represented in the literature and
that the quality of coordination, the nature of governance and resources could differentiate
several TDPs. An important criterion of differentiation could be how CE is implemented. The
authors identify a recurring debate about whether CE implementation should be planned or be
the product of self-organised and business-driven dynamics. However, the effective
implementation of CE in territories seems most often based on an intermediary model. The
authors also highlight a strong focus of the literature on coordination and institutional factors.
Resource creation as a step of territorial development remains unclear and rarely studied,
namely because of a persistent vagueness about what a resource is.
The next section, comprising three contributions, focuses on the question of the modes of
coordination of actors in order to build circularities.
The article of Iceri and Lardon proposes to use circularities to make the contours and dynamics
of territorial initiatives more intelligible. They consider that it is important for researchers from
different disciplines to find ways to capture the dynamics, meaning capture the interactions, the
internal movements in a territory, regardless of the stimulus (endogenic, exogenic, physical,
immaterial, cognitive, etc.). But there is also an operational stake, that of enabling local actors
to analyse their action and its effects on the territory. To do this, they analyse two collective
initiatives of local food systems in France and Brazil. They use complexity theory and different
methods to define the components of a collective action and the interrelationships between these
components, as well as the circularities (seven are distinguished) within the initiative and
between it and its environment. Based on the notion of circularities and extending it well beyond
the material dimension, this work proposes an original methodology for analysing the trajectory
of an initiative in a territory and its contribution to the dynamics of territorial development.
The article by Lenglet and Peyrache-Gadeau also deals with the analysis of structuring localised
collective dynamics, this time in the wood sector. They present an analysis of forest resource
valuation systems, with valuation defined as the combination of two inseparable processes of
evaluation (judgement, legitimation) and valorisation (production of added value). Like other
articles in this issue, they propose a broader vision of circularity (beyond the material
dimension) by offering an analysis of the circular valuation modes applied to the case of local
timber labels. They show that these labels are the result of interrelationships between linear
valuation logics specific to the sector but also of circularities resulting from the actors quest
for the development of a closed-loop economy and the desire to promote a valuation of the
wood resource that is beneficial to the territory. In this case, circularities appear as a component
of a collective dynamic for the construction of a new relationship between territories and local
actors with their forest resource and its value.
Niang, Torre and Bourdin aim to characterise the coordination of actors and governance at work
in a local, circular economy project. Based on a social network analysis approach applied to
territorial innovation systems and governance, they analyse the cooperation and synergies in
the project, in particular through the quantity and type of links between actors and their
evolution over time. These links can be both material and immaterial, reflecting the authors
consideration of this double dimension of CE. Specifically, the results show a different
configuration of the networks of material and immaterial flows. The authors highlight the key
role of intermediary actors. They occupy a central place in the network and link groups of
actors. The authors do not conclude that these are ideal network configurations for the
development of the circular economy, but that they are the result of the interplay of actors and
the local territorial configuration. Even if the existence of certain intermediary actors seems
important, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all network structure and mode of governance to build
the circular economy.
The next two papers seek to analyse the nature and forms of resource mobilisation at a meso-
economic level to implement circularities.
Still using the topic of the implementation of the circular economy, Gonçalves, Galliano and
Triboulet examine the resources necessary for the structuring of circularities and the means by
which the project leaders obtain them. They thus shed light on the meso-economic dynamics of
circularity construction. By mobilising the literature on the economics of (eco-)innovation
specifically, they analyse cases of collective methanisation in rural areas. They show that,
although located in rural areas, these projects and their promoters manage to find a number of
necessary resources in their local environment, in particular by strongly mobilising their
personal networks and by federating various types of actors who were not linked before the
project. The intangible resources may be more distant, but the project leaders manage to access
them, thanks notably to the key role of institutional actors, especially public ones. If the
cooperation between the different types of actors can be improved, these collective projects and
the circularities they promote are strongly anchored in their territories and seem to draw new
green innovation patterns.
Gallego-Bono and Tapia-Baranda also show how the circular economy brings new dynamics
of innovation based on new cooperation and the enhancement of local resources. They use the
example of the sugarcane industry, which they analyse by mobilising the economics of
innovation and the literature on industrial ecology. They show that the linear logic of valuing
agricultural resources in Latin America leads to the fragmentation of the networks of actors.
The development of local clusters around industrial ecology appears to be a possible vector for
the construction of collective actions through transformative territorial coalitions. Following
the example of other authors on this issue, they insist on the role proximity plays in building
these clusters, stressing here the key role of geographical proximity but also the sharing of
common values and objectives (ethical proximity). Comparing a classic sugarcane development
network and a transformative network based on the principles of territorial industrial ecology,
they show how the latter, by relying on actors with knowledge that had been marginalised until
then, was able to create a collective innovation dynamic that was not only technical but also
social (a form of innovation that is traditionally rarely dealt with in the industrial ecology
literature). It is not, however, an inward-looking network, as the authors show the importance
of links with more distant actors who share the vision of the cluster actors.
The last two articles also address the issue of resources but from the perspective of the effects
of the circular economy and the associated socio-economic system on them, and on agriculture
Marty et al. show how the development of the bioeconomy, and the choices in terms of biomass
valorisation that it engenders, strongly influence the socio-economic metabolism of a
territory. More specifically, they study the effects of the development of methanisation on the
production and allocation of biomass of agricultural origin (BAO) and on the entire territorial
agricultural system. Based on a metabolic approach belonging to the bioeconomics (funds and
flows approach), they point out the sustainability issues raised by the increasing allocation of
BAO to anaerobic digestion and the development of crops dedicated to this use. They show
both the individual effects (on the choices made by farmers) and the collective effects on the
agricultural system and the maintenance of a diversity of local agricultural activities. They thus
raise the crucial issue of potential competition over the use of a resource, while considering that
this is not inevitable and that a virtuous and concerted scenario for creating BOA circularities
between the different types of local agricultural actors is desirable in order to build a truly
sustainable territorial bioeconomy.
Last, Halime Güher Tans article proposes to analyse the circularities linked to socio-economic
systems, such as food markets, and the effects of these circularities on agricultural and food
resources. To do so, the author compares a market where direct sales prevail and a market with
a wholesaler. Again, circularities are addressed in their material and immaterial dimensions.
Indeed, using an original combination of methods, the author models direct exchanges and
inter-knowledge between producers and consumers. He then proposes to use a specific method
to analyse the development potential of the circular economy through farmers markets. To do
so, he mobilises the ReSOLVE method, which proposes an action plan in six key points for the
transition to the circular economy. The main conclusion of this work is that the direct link
between producers and consumers favours the development of more circular systems and the
valorisation of more local agricultural resources.
Looking at future research questions
The diversity of the articles in this special issue in terms of objectives, analytical frameworks,
methodologies and contributions shows the richness and complexity of the questions on the
links between circularities and territories. The elements that they provide, but also what they
do not address, reveal several avenues for future work on this topic.
Territorial anchorage, resources and sustainability of circularity
Future research could seek to understand, either through new methods or through specific
theoretical approaches, how resources are mobilised and to what extent actors take local
dimensions into account. From this point of view, it would be relevant to better understand how
actors implementing the circular economy seek greater autonomy. They could also seek to
investigate which factors can explain the mobilisation of territorial and extra-territorial
resources. The articles in this issue also show that there is still important work to be done
regarding the new resources that may result from the building of circularities. If it seems
obvious that circular economy produces new or different coordination patterns, the material and
immaterial outputs of these coordinations and their effects on territories at different scales
remain widely unknown.
Circular economy (like bioeconomy) also raises the question of what a resource is and how it
is valued. Research on territorial development and innovation has long shown that a resource
is not a purely material element. Research on circular economy reinforces this statement and
the need to take into account the wide diversity of resources. However, it also raises the question
of how to consider and integrate the different perceptions of a resource and its value that may
coexist in a network or in a territory, and that must be taken into account to build sustainable
circular systems.
The sustainability of the systems may also be questioned, as the extent of the networks of actors
may contribute to the distancing of flows and exchanges, thus reducing their sustainability: this
is what we could call the negative externalities of distance. Forgetting the dynamics of
geographical proximity in circular economy approaches, especially when it comes to recycling
and reuse, would mean ignoring the environmental dimension of the circular economy.
However, this dimension is central to the definition because it is the very thing that thwarts the
linear economy on which a large part of human activity is based. Therefore, the analysis of the
role of geographical proximity in the exchange of flows is promising. In this context, it seems
necessary to develop new methods to delimit the territories of action, allowing the exchange of
flows to be optimised in the smallest possible area.
Circularities, perimeters and scales
Beyond the analysis of the scale of spatial deployment of the circular economy and its territorial
anchoring, it seems important to look at the convergence between relevant territories (scale of
actors) and territories of public policies (institutional perimeter or scale). There is rarely an
overlap between the scales of economic actors and institutional territories. However, the latter
are often promoters and funders of the former. They can play the role of an intermediary actor
(Bourdin and Nadou, 2020). Future studies are therefore necessary to better understand how
circular economy actors deal with different perimeters and scales.
Circularities, innovation and territories
The case studies in this issue show that the transition from a linear to a circular system relies
on different types of environmental innovations, defined as such because of the environmental
benefits they produce. These environmental benefits are based on technological, but also
organisational, institutional and social innovations. This non-technological dimension of eco-
innovation is often central to circular economy processes and would require further analysis
related to the identification of the brakes and levers to circularity, notably the new modes of
coordination of actors and activities in territories. Inter-organisational relationships are often
central in the implementation of the process of transition towards sustainability, and circular
innovative projects are rich sources of insight into how co-located actors with different but
related activities collaborate towards eco-innovation. This very specific dimension of
circularity, whose first goal is to bring together previously unrelated actors, brings to the
forefront the question of place-based factors (beyond resources) and localised trajectories of
innovation, which would require more in-depth analysis. social innovations.
Circular economy and regional or local policies
In terms of public policies, the challenge identified in the articles is to succeed in designing a
mode of economic transformation around a systemic and integrated approach. This implies the
implementation of public policies taking into account the diversity and the necessary
territorialisation of these activities. From this perspective, the territorial practices of circularity
and circulation of flows should be encouraged, in a logical rebalancing of territories, through
an equitable distribution of circular activities and jobs.
Following the industrial and territorial ecology approach, public policies must participate in the
support and coordination of the actors in the transition. In the public policies of various
countries, industrial and territorial ecology is now understood as a lever for change and
evolution of practices and technical and organisational models, integrating both issues of
coordination of actors and positive externalities on the territory.
In this context, studies on governance are needed. These should focus on structuring productive
and social interactions of new forms of organisation and coordination of actors to generate
circularity. The reproducibility and generalisation of the system of governance studied must be
envisaged from the perspective of taking into account local specificities, differentiating one
territory from another. The success and sustainability of territorial circularity initiatives cannot
be separated from local realities, as each project is specific to its territory and its actors.
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... Therefore, it is becoming increasingly clear that the production of food waste must be reduced and waste products reused. To achieve this, it will be necessary to develop new circular business models, socially responsible projects and sustainable policies [3,4]. Many innovative businesses in Europe have invested in food waste recycling, and new sustainable products have been developed. ...
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... Therefore, sending goods for recycling to the other side of the world is not guaranteed to reduce global warming. Thus, anchoring in the territories is essential, with the importance of local retroaction loops (Veyssière et al., 2021 ;Bourdin et al., 2021). In other words, following recent contributions, we postulate that territorial anchoring/local embeddedness is a condition to develop projects from the bioeconomy and the circular economy that are genuinely virtuous from an environmental point of view. ...
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Anaerobic digestion has recently gained interest in contributing to territorial strategy regarding the deployment of the circular economy and energy transition. Most projects bring together multiple actors from a wide variety of backgrounds. The article analyzes the evolution of synergies and cooperative behaviors between local stakeholders over the period 2010-2020 in an anaerobic digestion cluster in France. The study draws on social network analysis and proximity theory, which have recently been used for analyzing regional innovation systems, local clusters, territorial governance, and rural development. We reveal that local stakeholders develop dense relational networks that vary and evolve throughout the project. Different groups exist and behave in a semi-autonomous manner. All the actors are located in close geographical proximity. Still, their links in terms of organized proximities are related to various types of relations, resulting from cognitive resemblances or common origins. This explains the persistence and resilience of local relationships and how they maintain a collaborative dynamic over time.
... They fail to consider the importance of consumption (as well as production) or governance (Williams 2019a). They also fail to territorialize the CE, considering either scale or context (Williams 2019a;Bourdin, Galliano, and Gonçalves 2021). The importance of land and infrastructure has also been overlooked in the CE conceptualization (Williams 2019a). ...
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Circular development could produce more resource efficient, ecologically regenerative and resilient cities. This development pathway offers many ecological, social and economic benefits. However, there are also many challenges to implementation, not least a heavy reliance on the market to transform urban systems of provision. A regulatory and policy framework is essential for a circular transformation, until circular activities become competitive within existing markets. Spatial and land-use planning can offer this framework. This paper provides insight into the circular development process. It discusses the role of planning in delivering circular development, using examples from four European cities. It identifies the tools for delivery and discusses the inherent limitations of using planning tools to deliver a circular transformation.
En esta investigación se realizaron pruebas para corroborar la viabilidad de integrar vidrio considerado un residuo, en el proceso de fabricación de cerámica, y así disminuir tanto el uso de materias primas vírgenes, como el consumo de energéticos. Se recuperó y procesó vidrio de botellas de un solo uso para integrarlo en la formulación de compuestos cerámicos. Se utilizó el enfoque de la ecoeficiencia para comparar los resultados obtenidos, y así configurar procedimientos que se integraron a la propuesta planteada. Debido a que cada comunidad alfarera dispone de una materia prima con características propias, que le son dadas de acuerdo al entorno particular en el que se desarrollan, fueron seleccionadas dos arcillas, cuyas muestras se ubicaron en los extremos de las características de un material óptimo para confeccionar piezas cerámicas: a) una arcilla con alto grado de plasticidad y b) una tierra rojiza con alto contenido de hierro. Las pruebas de plasticidad, encogimiento, porosidad y resistencia a la deformación se realizaron con un compuesto cerámico que contenía tierra, arcilla y vidrio molido en diferentes proporciones, para comparar sus propiedades después de un proceso de cocción. Los resultados muestran la factibilidad de reutilizar residuos de vidrio al incorporar éstos en el proceso de fabricación de cerámica, logrando obtener piezas de características adecuadas, al tiempo que: a) se disminuye, hasta en 20%, el consumo de arcillas y b) se promueve una mayor eficiencia energética del proceso de cocción: a la misma temperatura, las muestras a las que se ha agregado el vidrio registraron una disminución en el punto de sinterización, lo que representa un ahorro en el consumo de energía.
The Circular Economy and Sustainability are among the greatest challenges faced by policymakers, producers, and consumers. Circular Economy processes demand less from the environment since they can minimize waste generation and, hence, can be powerful tools to combat the negative effects of climate change. Additionally, following subsidiarity principles, public policies supporting the Circular Economy should be designed at the lowest levels of public administrations—this provides huge opportunities for regional governments to design, implement and monitor these policies. This editorial of the special issue explores and discusses implications for those policies before introducing the five papers published in the special issue dedicated to policies for regional economy and sustainability. While some of the papers attempt to conceptualize sustainable development through a microeconomic perspective, others have a clear macroeconomic empirical focus. In consequence, this special issue provides a rich body of work for further Circularity and Sustainability nexus studies.
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This contribution essentially aims to highlight the contribution of the circular economy in territorial development and the new industrial strategy for Europe. We highlight the main challenges of the circular economy and present the main obstacles to its deployment today. Finally, we propose the establishment of a European industrial and territorial ecology.
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In a context where anaerobic digestion is a controversial subject, it is not surprising to see that between 20% and 30% of anaerobic digestion projects are abandoned, mainly for reasons of local opposition, problems of coordination between stakeholders and the implementation of real territorial governance capable of facing the challenges encountered during the setting up of the project. We can consequently question the role that local territorial authorities could play to encourage the development of biogas in France. We used semi-structured interviews conducted with anaerobic digestion stakeholders to identify the main functions of territorial intermediation (and their specific elements) that local authorities could have to encourage the deployment and success of these projects. Local authorities play the role of intermediation by (i) ensuring spatial and cognitive proximities between actors, (ii) mobilizing territorial resources and favoring local anchorage (iii) installing trust among the local stakeholders and (iv) having a role of instigator by participating in the supply (inputs) of biogas plants and the purchase of the energy produced (outputs).
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The circular economy concept has gained momentum both among scholars and practitioners. However, critics claim that it means many different things to different people. This paper provides further evidence for these critics. The aim of this paper is to create transparency regarding the current understandings of the circular economy concept. For this purpose, we have gathered 114 circular economy definitions which were coded on 17 dimensions. Our findings indicate that the circular economy is most frequently depicted as a combination of reduce, reuse and recycle activities, whereas it is oftentimes not highlighted that CE necessitates a systemic shift. We further find that the definitions show few explicit linkages of the circular economy concept to sustainable development. The main aim of the circular economy is considered to be economic prosperity, followed by environmental quality; its impact on social equity and future generations is barely mentioned. Furthermore, neither business models nor consumers are frequently outlined as enablers of the circular economy. We critically discuss the various circular economy conceptualizations throughout this paper. Overall, we hope to contribute via this study towards the coherence of the circular economy concept; we presume that significantly varying circular economy definitions may eventually result in the collapse of the concept.
The recently developed Deep Transitions framework has so far been mainly used to explore the first deep transition towards industrial modernity. This paper looks at a potential second deep transition towards a circular economy, which is hoped to lead to a more sustainable global economic system. Our focus is on exploring the role of the EU in developing and diffusing this emerging set of rules. We draw on ideas from the international relations literature to explain why and how the EU adopted the idea of a circular economy, helped formulate it into a set of rules and how it promoted its international diffusion. The paper concludes with lessons about the case and critical reflections about the Deep Transitions framework. In particular, we argue for taking a more actor-based approach when researching the unfolding second deep transition.
Urban areas are hubs for innovation, economic activity and growth that hugely influence the development of our society, making those areas important drivers in the global transition towards circular economy. Although global policies are necessary to set the general ambition, local interventions are crucial to realize it. This paper presents a methodological framework aimed at facilitating the understanding and application of circular economy strategies in urban systems, that being a single city, or urban regions. The framework is conceived as a flexible structure that contains a network of potential decisions, describing different convergence and divergence points, and that is meant as a supporting tool for future urban circular economy implementation initiatives. After a literature review and an analysis of specific case studies on urban circular economy implementation, a four-phased methodology is proposed where the territory is explored in order to identify and select initiatives in the areas with greatest potential for circular economy. Actions needed to implement the selected initiatives are finally summarized in a roadmap. Each phase contains recommendations of different tasks to complete and available tools for achieving the expected results. Different approaches to adopt in the application of this methodology are discussed as well, such as production-based vs. consumption-based, and top-down vs. bottom-up. Special emphasis is put on the importance of involving local agents, in order to obtain specific and validated proposals that are adapted to the reality of the territory and the concerns of the stakeholders. Through these comprehensive guidelines, the ultimate goal of this methodology is to help urban systems to foster circular economy principles, and therefore reaffirm their role in addressing and managing global sustainability issues.
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represented a worldwide acknowledgment of the incapacity of the current development model of development to grant everyone the "Right to sustainable wellbeing". It also signalled the necessity to develop an integrated approach to sustainable wellbeing considering its economic, social, environmental and institutional dimensions. On the basis of such considerations, the present study aimed at drawing attention on an economic model that should be considered the key to generate growth and ensure the sustainability of territorial wellbeing: the circular economy. In particular, while focusing on the strategic role of agriculture as a lever to achieve sustainable wellbeing, the paper aims at offering insights to policy makers and territorial stakeholders who are called to respond to current challenges and implement paradigms that are able to ensure a collective sustainable wellbeing.
We address the territorial embeddedness of resource management: the way in which resource management is shaped by the territorial context in which it occurs, as well as the way in which resource management contributes to shape new territories. We demonstrate that Industrial Ecology (IE), as a specific resource management approach, can be used to gain new perspectives on territorial patterns emerging with resource optimization. First, we lay down a theoretical framework that should underlie the use of territory as a concept, building bridges between geography and IE. Then, drawing upon this theoretical framework, we develop a methodological structure that can lead to and manifest the process of territorial construction at work in IE. We test the knowledge production capacity of this theoretical and methodological approach to territory in IE by applying it to a specific case study in the Aix-Marseille Provence metropolitan area (France). This paper thus enhances knowledge about the territorialization process at work in IE, by identifying different IE territories within the same geographic area and positioning local stakeholders, understood as local inhabitants, with respect to territorial interfaces. Finally, we discuss how IE, as a specific resource management approach, questions the different aspects of the connection between people and geographical places in a natural management context.
Circular economy (CE) is currently a popular concept promoted by the EU, by several national governments and by many businesses around the world. However, the scientific and research content of the CE concept is superficial and unorganized. CE seems to be a collection of vague and separate ideas from several fields and semi-scientific concepts. The objective of this article is to contribute to the scientific research on CE. First, we will define the concept of CE from the perspective of WCED sustainable development and sustainability science. Second, we will conduct a critical analysis of the concept from the perspective of environmental sustainability. The analysis identifies six challenges, for example those of thermodynamics and system boundaries, that need to be resolved for CE to be able to contribute to global net sustainability. These six challenges also serve as research themes and objectives for scholars interested in making progress in sustainable development through the usage of circular economy. CE is important for its power to attract both the business community and policy-making community to sustainability work, but it needs scientific research to secure that the actual environmental impacts of CE work toward sustainability.
The concept of circular economy (CE) is to an increasing extent treated as a solution to series of challenges such as waste generation, resource scarcity and sustaining economic benefits. However the concept of circularity is not of novel as such. Specific circumstances and motivations have stimulated ideas relevant to circularity in the past through activities such as reuse, remanufacturing or recycling. Main objectives of this work are: to provide a comprehensive review of research efforts encompassing aspects of resources scarcity, waste generation and economic advantages; to explore the CE landscape in the context of these three aspects especially when they are considered simultaneously; based on an idea of a comprehensive CE framework, propose an implementation strategy using top-down and bottom-up approach in a concurrent manner. To fulfill this objective a comprehensive review of state-of-the-art research is carried out to understand different ideas relevant to CE, motivation for the research and context of their recurrence. Main contributions of this paper are a comprehensive CE framework and a practical implementation strategy for a regenerative economy and natural environment. The framework emphasizes on a combined view of three main aspects i.e. environment, resources and economic benefits. It also underlines that joint support of all stakeholders is necessary in order to successfully implement the CE concept at large scale. The proposed framework and implementation strategy also identify new avenues for future research and practice in the field of CE.