Circular Economy and the Law: Bringing Justice into the Frame
... Despite nascent discussions of the social dimensions, including justice, of EPR (e.g. [9,10]), social dimensions remain "largely absent" from EPR agendas . This short communication addresses this gap. ...
... Justice is also often absent from circular economy discussions, but there are growing calls for its consistent incorporation into circular economy laws and discussions (e.g. [9,15]). Similarly, justice needs to become one of the focal points of EPR discussions. ...
... Even though producers should be responsible, costs can be passed onto the consumer. Second, the informal sector may be adversely impacted as research demonstrates that, for example, the formalization of the waste sector often marginalizes informal workers and makes their existence more precarious [4,9,34]. This is underpinned by EPR laws and policies "add[ing] to trends in the existing economy to enclose and commodify the planetary commons, including ecosystems (referred to as natural capital)" ( , see also: [35,36]). ...
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) places liability, physical, financial, and/or informative responsibility for a product throughout its life cycle on its producer. Implementing such schemes is expected to result in many environmental and social benefits. Yet, academic and practitioner discussions on the mechanisms focus on environmental impacts, whereas social dimensions of EPR are often side-lined. This short communication contributes to addressing this gap by establishing a research agenda for the justice dimensions of EPR. For this purpose, initial links between EPR and justice-specifically waste colonialism, procedural justice, recognition justice, distributive justice, intra-and intergenerational equity, waste justice, and corrective justice-are set out, including where it affects products in their life cycles and examples of which stakeholders may be impacted, with plastic waste used to provide examples.
In the run-up to Stockholm+50, Chatham House’s Environment and Society Programme convened a series of international online workshops and stakeholder dialogues.1 These identified key areas for global cooperation on the circular economy. Participants included representatives of UN member states, multilateral institutions, and representatives of Major Groups including non-governmental organizations, women, business and industry, workers and trade unions, and the scientific and technological community. Via consultations and co-design workshops, stakeholders provided inputs and advice on how the circular economy can advance global development and environmental goals, and on how it can gain a stronger foothold in the multilateral system. Many participants highlighted a global roadmap for an inclusive circular economy as a way of addressing these issues after Stockholm+50. This paper outlines how such a roadmap process could take shape, building and expanding on the diverse stakeholder views included in Chatham House’s preparations for Stockholm+50.
We need to break free from the capitalist economy. Degrowth gives us the tools to bend its bars. Economic growth isn’t working, and it cannot be made to work. Offering a counter-history of how economic growth emerged in the context of colonialism, fossil-fueled industrialization, and capitalist modernity, The Future Is Degrowth argues that the ideology of growth conceals the rising inequalities and ecological destructions associated with capitalism, and points to desirable alternatives to it. Not only in society at large, but also on the left, we are held captive by the hegemony of growth. Even proposals for emancipatory Green New Deals or postcapitalism base their utopian hopes on the development of productive forces, on redistributing the fruits of economic growth and technological progress. Yet growing evidence shows that continued economic growth cannot be made compatible with sustaining life and is not necessary for a good life for all. This book provides a vision for postcapitalism beyond growth. Building on a vibrant field of research, it discusses the political economy and the politics of a non-growing economy. It charts a path forward through policies that democratise the economy, “now-topias” that create free spaces for experimentation, and counter-hegemonic movements that make it possible to break with the logic of growth. Degrowth perspectives offer a way to step off the treadmill of an alienating, expansionist, and hierarchical system. A handbook and a manifesto, The Future Is Degrowth is a must-read for all interested in charting a way beyond the current crises. https://www.versobooks.com/books/3989-the-future-is-degrowth
The thriving circular economy is expected to contribute to all three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, economic, and social. This paper aims to propose a framework to assess social indicators to support circular business models. To validate the framework, we conducted a case study in a medium-size Italian footwear luxury industry, using the Value Focused Thinking–VFT. This approach was used to define proper social indicators to measure the perception of the company’s managers related to the level of incorporation of social dilemmas in the company. We collect data through interviews, documental analysis and direct observation from October/2019 until August/2020 and apply a questionnaire in 2020/2021. The novelty of this paper lies in the proposition of a framework to assess the social indicators in broad categories, capable of covering all supply chains: Corporation, Community; Consumers; Suppliers; Human Rights and Human Resources. Another novelty is related to the analysis of indicators in terms of strategic, tactical, and operational levels, similarly to the idea of a Balanced Scorecard, which was allowed by applying the VFT approach.
This chapter addresses the relationship between bioeconomy and sustainable development in South America. Since the early 21st century, the bioeconomy emerged within countries in the Global North as a new concept and strategy aiming to increase the use of bio-based resources and production processes, not least to foster a transition away from the use of fossil fuels. This paradigm change has been related in different manners to a pathway to more sustainable ways of production, consumption and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the bioeconomy is not inherently sustainable. While there are academic debates on bioeconomy and its sustainability in Europe and the US, discussions on its implementation and implications for sustainability in countries in South America have been covered much less and mainly focused on sectorial approaches. We examine the link between bioeconomy and the SDGs in a broad sense to then analyse the implications and challenges that bioeconomy brings to sustainable development in South American countries, focusing on one of the largest bioeconomy sectors in the region, the case of agriculture. We conclude that while bioeconomy could be a driver for sustainable development, in South American countries this is still contested as bioeconomy strategies and proponents of bioeconomy do not pay sufficient attention to socio-environmental concerns raised by citizens and civil society.
In recent years, the concept of a circular economy (CE) has gained importance and attracted significant attention among scholars and practitioners. Research that examines the role of modern technologies in supporting the transition from a linear economy to the CE is therefore highly needed. This article analyzes and classifies existing research at the intersection of the CE and the Internet of Things (IoT), as an enabling technology. While studies on both concepts have proliferated, there is a lack of research that systematizes the literature and clarifies the relationship between the IoT and the CE. In order to achieve this, we reviewed a total of 170 academic articles published between 2007 and 2021 from the Scopus and Web of Science databases. Based on the coding of keywords, four categories can be identified: (1) IoT-related technologies in the CE context, (2) enablers of IoT in the CE, (3) barriers to IoT adoption in the CE, and (4) the impacts of the IoT on the sustainability of (circular) economies. The current study is the first attempt to use a keyword coding approach to better understand IoT research in the CE domain. The review findings identify important drivers and enablers and provide a structured framework for research in this field. Finally, this study highlights several research directions that may provide valuable insights for researchers and practitioners.
This editorial, using a practical example, aims to provide some food for thought. In aligning with the increasing trend and needs (Figure 1), a new section of this journal, Bioeconomy of Sustainability, is timely and strategic to provide possible solutions to real-world problems.
Economic theory states that incineration and landfill taxation can effectively diminish the environmental impacts of pollution and resource use by reducing their associated pollutants while stimulating the reuse and recycling of materials, and therefore, fostering a circular economy. The aim of this research is to assess the economic and environmental effects of these taxes in Spain in different scenarios with a detailed dynamic computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, as there are no studies analyzing this in detail. We focus on the economic impact on GDP and sectorial production and the environmental impact on different categories: global warming potential, marine eutrophication potential, photochemical ozone formation potential, particulate matter, human toxicity (cancer and noncancer), ecotoxicity, and depletion of fossil resources. We find in all scenarios that these taxes have a limited economic impact while reducing all of the environmental impact categories analyzed. The study reinforces the theory that policy makers need to impose taxes on landfill and incineration to reinforce the circularity of the economy and reduce environmental burdens, but also demonstrates that they can improve their design without additional costs.
The role of international trade in accelerating the transition to a circular economy is receiving increasing attention in the global policy arena and academic literature. It is a complex area of study encompassing domestic policy, international trade governance, multilateral environmental agreements, material flow analysis, and Just Transition. Due to the expansiveness and interconnectivity of the topic, this article conducts the first systematic literature review on the intersection between a just circular economy transition and international trade. A total of 69 articles were reviewed spanning academic and grey literature. The article identifies and discusses the predicted adverse impacts and benefits of the global CE transition. One striking finding of the review is the prevalence of competing claims across the literature, which will potentially lead to the design of ineffective policy actions. This contradiction of claims is indicative of the significant knowledge gaps in terms of mapping and understanding the complex trade flow dynamics associated with the CE transition. It also presents the most common recommended actions covering immediate policy actions and further research. Policy actions include the development and harmonization of CE standards and definitions, upgrading the Harmonized System of codes structure and customs processes to better enable trade in CE goods and services and mainstreaming circular economy objectives in free trade agreements. Further research is required on how to ensure a Just Transition, the role of global trade in terms of remaining within the planetary boundaries and achieving the SDGs; and improving trade flow modelling. New research is also required on the impacts of geopolitics, technological innovation, and CE finance on circular trade.
Blockchain technology is emerging as a plausible disruptor of waste management practices that influence the governance of plastics. The interest in the waste management community in the po-tential and fundamental changes to complex resource management associated with blockchain adoption parallels recent adoption research in other sectors, such as finance, health, public ad-ministration, etc. During any comparable period characterized by a step-change in positive cov-erage of an early-stage technology, it can be challenging for actors to access a grounded, evi-dence-based oversight of the current state of practice, and make informed decisions about wheth-er or how to adopt blockchain technology. The current absence of such a systematic overview of recent experiences with blockchain initiatives disrupting waste practices not only limits the visi-bility of these experimental efforts, but also limits the learning that can be shared across waste plastics researcher and practitioner communities. This paper contributes to this challenge with a current overview of blockchain technology adoption in the waste management sector, giving par-ticular attention to implications for the governance of plastics. This study draws on both primary interview data and secondary documentation data to map the landscape of current blockchain initiatives in the global waste sector. It identifies four areas of blockchain use that are beginning to change waste management practices (payment, recycling and reuse rewards, monitoring and tracking of waste, and smart contracts). It finishes by outlining five areas of significant block-chain uses, implications, and influences of relevance to the development of circular plastics waste governance in both research and practice.
The circular economy concept has been promoted as a response to increasing resource scarcity and as a driver of the transition towards a more sustainable economic system. The predominant focus of most circular economy-related approaches is, however, within the environmental and economic dimension, whereas social aspects, such as labour practices, human rights or community well-being, have only been peripherally and sporadically integrated into the circular economy concept. To achieve a truly sustainable alternative to the current economic system, a more balanced integration of the social sustainability dimension is essential. This study addressed this gap by thoroughly investigating the social dimension of sustainability as part of the circular economy concept by means of a two-step research design. Based on a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed English language research papers, interrelations of the identified social aspects were explored through causal loop modelling, mapping the extant intellectual territory at the intersection of social sustainability and circular economy. By identifying both overarching and actor-specific social aspects, this paper laid the groundwork for a clearer conceptual integration of the social dimension into the circular economy. Thereby, the problem of scattered coverage of social issues was highlighted, and collaboration was identified as main facilitator of a circular economy. Education, participation and legislative support emerged as central leverage points for the transformation towards a sustainable circular economy. Given the blurred boundaries between often-used social, economic and environmental indicators, more de facto social factors, beyond those closely related to economic or ecological factors, should be considered, and a stronger normative stance in future research is encouraged.
The world is moving into a situation where resource scarcity leads to an increase in material cost. A possible way to deal with the above challenge is to adopt Circular Economy (CE) concepts to make a close loop of material by eliminating industrial or post-consumer wastes. Integration of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data analytics provides significant support in successfully adopting and implementing CE practices. This study aims to explore the applications of AI techniques in enhancing the adoption and implementation of CE practices. A systematic literature review was performed to analyze the existing scenario and the potential research directions of AI in CE. A collection of 220 articles was shortlisted from the SCOPUS database in the field of AI in CE. A text mining approach, known as Structural Topic Modeling (STM), was used to generate different thematic topics of AI applications in CE. Each generated topic was then discussed with shortlisted articles. Further, a bibliometric study was performed to analyze the research trends in the field of AI applications in CE. A research framework was proposed for AI in CE based on the review conducted, which could help industrial practitioners, and researchers working in this domain. Further, future research propositions on AI in CE were proposed.
The circular economy is a key part of global efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Circular economy activities aim to reduce overconsumption, design-out waste and restore and regenerate ecosystems and natural capital. However, new financial instruments and investments are needed to support the growth of these business models and innovations at scale. With rising public awareness about the impacts of climate change around the world, financial institutions and investors are under mounting pressure to address sustainability concerns in their portfolios. One way to achieve this is through investments in projects that promote the development of the circular economy. In addition, circular economy investment can contribute to achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production). From a government perspective, policy instruments are key to de-risking and incentivizing financial investments in circular models. This paper makes the case for integrating the circular economy more directly into public investment and stimulus packages. Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a world-leading policy institute based in London. Our mission is to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.
The concept of bioeconomy is a topic of debate, confusion, skepticism, and criticism. Paradoxically, this is not necessarily a negative thing as it is encouraging a fruitful exchange of information, ideas, knowledge, and values, with concomitant beneficial effects on the definition and evolution of the bioeconomy paradigm. At the core of the debate, three points of view coexist: (i) those who support a broad interpretation of the term bioeconomy, through the incorporation of all economic activities based on the production and conversion of renewable biological resources (and organic wastes) into products, including agriculture, livestock, fishing, forestry and similar economic activities that have accompanied humankind for millennia; (ii) those who embrace a much narrower interpretation, reserving the use of the term bioeconomy for new, innovative, and technologically-advanced economic initiatives that result in the generation of high-added-value products and services from the conversion of biological resources; and (iii) those who stand between these two viewpoints. Here, to shed light on this debate, a contextualization of the bioeconomy concept through its links with related concepts (biotechnology, bio-based economy, circular economy, green economy, ecological economics, environmental economics, etc.) and challenges facing humanity today is presented.
Sustainable development (SD) presents three pillars: environment, equality, and economy. Many scholars agree that circular economy (CE) currently displays a social gap, as most studies so far focus mostly on economic aspects and, occasionally, environmental too. Although some developed countries and especially the EU heavily promote it, there is little possibility of developing countries accepting CE unless it can fill what it is lacking. This study suggests the use of Schlosberg’s tripartite environmental justice (EJ) perspective to complete the concept of CE, bringing it closer to that of SD. Due to their significant contribution to both circularity and the environment, and, likewise, due to their poor social conditions, this paper focuses on the social group of WPs, mainly in Brazil. After conducting 19 semi-structured interviews, EJ was applied to the case of the Ecopoints in Fortaleza (northeastern Brazil) and each element—recognition, distribution, and participation—detected conflicts, such as underappreciation, continuously reduced access to recyclables, distrust, and miscommunication. If CE is successful in LMCs, it will heavily rely on WPs. The analysis suggests that it is necessary to recognize their contributions in order to value their work and consequently, promote their social inclusion.
A corporate appetite for greenhouse gas reduction from nature-based solutions, in general, and REDD+, in particular, is driving a rapidly growing voluntary carbon market. The interest to invest in solutions that avoid or reduce deforestation holds the potential to significantly support national efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. However, controversy over leakage coupled with confusion and insufficient understanding of spill-over and displacement effects risk holding back necessary investments. This article seeks to shed light on different concepts surrounding leakage, including underlying dynamics and possible solutions on how to address them. In doing so, it makes the case for integrating avoided deforestation projects into national REDD+ strategies and highlights the need for a multi-level and multi-actor approach towards REDD+. Leakage occurs at all levels of implementation of REDD+ activities, at the project, programme and policy level, and both within and beyond national boundaries. Local leakage can largely be controlled through project design that analyses and addresses the proximate causes of leakage and underlying drivers, however, leakage is more difficult to avoid at the programme or policy level. Market leakage is particularly complex and harder to manage, but can – to a certain extent – be modelled and accounted for. Successful REDD+ efforts will combine demand-side measures with national or jurisdictional programmes that support governance reforms and integrate local investments in nature-based solutions and avoided deforestation projects. Key policy insights • Emissions leakage is a ubiquitous phenomenon in climate mitigation that occurs at all levels of implementation. However, it is of particular concern in the case of REDD+, where reduced deforestation in one geographical area can lead to an increase in forest loss in another area. • Leakage has to be managed and monitored at different scales: locally through avoided deforestation projects that address local drivers of deforestation; nationally through well-designed REDD+ policies; and internationally, among others, through demand-side standards in countries importing forest-risk commodities. • Larger-scale programmes that link government interventions with efforts to eliminate deforestation from commodity supply chains, conservation efforts and avoided deforestation projects can limit leakage while helping to integrate various conservation and financing strategies. • ‘Nesting’ of avoided deforestation projects into larger REDD+ programmes, at sub-national or national scale, allows for the integration of greenhouse gas accounting across different scales of implementation.
1. Assessing the role of the forest-based bioeconomy in mitigating climate change requires a “system-perspective”, considering all possible options: increasing carbon stocks (‘net sink’) in forest land and in Harvested Wood Products (HWPs), and using wood to substitute other materials or fossil fuels. 2. Reducing the harvest appears the easiest option to increase the net forest sink in the short to medium term (2030-2050). However, this option would have negative socio-economic impacts in the forest sector and would likely lead to a net forest sink saturation in the long term. 3. Increasing the harvest would make more wood available for carbon storage in HWPs and for material substitution. However, in the short to medium term, the potential additional benefits from HWPs and material substitution are unlikely to compensate for the reduction of the net forest sink associated with the increased harvest. 4. A further increase in the net annual forest increment, through forest management practices and new forest area, is necessary to reverse the current trend of declining sinks and thus align the contribution of the forest-based bioeconomy with the EU goal of climate neutrality by 2050. 5. Part of this extra increment could also increase the potential for carbon storage in HWPs and for material substitution. A shift towards greater use of wood products with longer service lives and substitution benefits can enhance their climate change mitigation benefit. 6. A holistic assessment is essential to guide policies that ensure that the forest-based bioeconomy makes an effective and resilient contribution to climate change mitigation. For example, where a future increase in harvest is expected because of age-related dynamics in managed forests or adaptation needs, then using this ‘unavoidable’ extra harvest for storing carbon in wood products and for material substitution would bring climate benefits compared with a business-as-usual scenario of wood use. Available at https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC124374
This article addresses fiscal policy as a key instrument for promoting the transition to a circular economy. It is based on the hypotheses that (1) the current tax system penalizes circular activities, which are generally labour intensive, as opposed to new product manufacturing activities, which are generally intensive in materials and energy, highly automated and robotized, and (2) that the environmental taxation implemented in recent decades is unable to introduce significant changes to stop climate change or keep the economy within planetary ecological limits. This article examines the basis of an alternative tax system and tax instruments for correcting the current linear economy bias and driving the transition to a circular economy. Proposals are developed for both structural and partial reforms of the fiscal system, focusing on tax measures that can be implemented in the medium or short term to boost a circular economy. More specifically, we suggest a complete redesign of the currently opaque and significant amount of tax expenditure to transform environmentally harmful tax benefits into environmentally friendly tax measures that are suitable for the circular economy. View Full-Text https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/8/4581
Whilst plastics have played an instrumental role in human development, growing environmental concerns has led to increasing public scrutiny and demands for outright bans. This has stimulated considerable research into renewable alternatives, and more recently, the development of alternative waste management strategies. Herein, we aim to highlight recent developments in the catalytic chemical recycling of two commercial polyesters, namely poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET). The concept of chemical recycling is first introduced, and associated opportunities/challenges are discussed within the context of the governing depolymerisation thermodynamics. Chemical recycling methods for PLA and PET are then discussed, with a particular focus on upcycling and the use of metal‐based catalysts. Finally, our attention shifts to the emergence of new materials with the potential to modernise the plastics economy. Emerging opportunities and challenges are discussed within the context of industrial feasibility.
The avalanche of environmental challenges, from local to global and back, has prompted responses at all levels from personal to inter-governmental. The results of these responses have fallen in the range between useful and counterproductive, with many examples on each side, but the scale of the overall challenge continues to escalate. Moving towards a zero-carbon global economy through absolute reductions in fossil fuel usage is a sure way of mitigating climate change, and a range of environmental, social and economic benefits would follow. The case for a Circular Economy (CE), however, is less clear. Whilst some CE initiatives may lead to the decoupling of economic growth from resource extraction, this does not necessarily equate to reducing the rate of extraction. Thus, the contribution of CE to the achievement of environmental objectives globally cannot be taken for granted. In terms of social impact, the best that can be said is that CE might be neutral. Technologies that promote the ‘sharing economy’ for instance, often suggested as a crucial CE strategy, create opportunities for individual wealth accumulation, but are also a route to the gig economy and the casualisation of labour. CE is arguably a business imperative, but definitive evidence to support the idea of a circular economy that meets social and environmental goals needs development.
How the marriage of Industry 4.0 and the Circular Economy can radically transform waste management—and our world Do we really have to make a choice between a wasteless and nonproductive world or a wasteful and ultimately self-destructive one? Futurist and world-renowned waste management scientist Antonis Mavropoulos and sustainable business developer and digital strategist Anders Nilsen respond with a ringing and optimistic “No!” They explore the Earth-changing potential of a happy (and wasteless) marriage between Industry 4.0 and a Circular Economy that could—with properly reshaped waste management practices—deliver transformative environmental, health, and societal benefits. This book is about the possibility of a brand-new world and the challenges to achieve it. The fourth industrial revolution has given us innovations including robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D-printing, and biotech. By using these technologies to advance the Circular Economy—where industry produces more durable materials and runs on its own byproducts—the waste management industry will become a central element of a more sustainable world and can ensure its own, but well beyond business as usual, future. Mavropoulos and Nilsen look at how this can be achieved—a wasteless world will require more waste management—and examine obstacles and opportunities such as demographics, urbanization, global warming, and the environmental strain caused by the rise of the global middle class. · Explore the new prevention, reduction, and elimination methods transforming waste management · Comprehend and capitalize on the business implications for the sector · Understand the theory via practical examples and case studies · Appreciate the social benefits of the new approach Waste-management has always been vital for the protection of health and the environment. Now it can become a crucial role model in showing how Industry 4.0 and the Circular Economy can converge to ensure flourishing, sustainable—and much brighter—future.
The pressure that the human species exerts on the natural environment through the extraction of materials and generation of wastes is widely recognised. Circular economy has emerged as a potential solution to make better use of resources. Positioned as a technology-focused concept that can generate economic gains while alleviating pressure on the environment, circular economy enjoys a positive reception by organisations in public, private and civic sectors and, increasingly, academia alike. However, concerns have been raised regarding some purported circular economy practices being promoted as ‘sustainable’ yet resulting in detrimental impacts on environment and society. We briefly revisit the systems ecology literature that construed the context for both circular economy and sustainable development. Values and principles in core sustainable development literature are analysed to offer a foundation against which circular economy can be discussed. We then analyse and critically reflect upon the strengths, shortcomings and theoretical flaws within the values and principles that emerged from the evolving circular economy literature. We propose a value framework and set of ten principles for the design, implementation and evaluation of a sustainable circular economy. We finish with a call for action for both practitioners and a research agenda for academia.
The transition to a circular economy is a complex process requiring wide multi-level and multi-stakeholder engagement and can be facilitated by appropriate policy interventions. Taking stock of the importance of a well-balanced policy mix that includes a variety of complementing policy instruments, the circular economy action plan of the European Union (COM(2020) 98 final) includes a section about “getting the economics right” in which it encourages the application of economic instruments. This contribution presents a comprehensive taxation framework, applied across the life cycle of products. The framework includes (1) a raw material resource tax, (2) reuse/repair tax relief, and (3) a waste hierarchy tax at the end of life of products. The research is based on a mixed method approach, using different sources to analyse the different measures in the framework. More mature concepts, such as material resource taxes, are analysed by reviewing the existing literature. The analysis of tax relief on repairs is based on interviews with stakeholders in Sweden, where this economic policy instrument has been implemented since 2017. Finally, for the waste hierarchy tax, which is a novel proposition in this contribution, macroeconomic modelling is used to analyse potential impacts of future implementation. In all cases, several implementation challenges are identified, and potential solutions are discussed according to literature and empirical sources. Further research is required both at the individual instrument and at the framework level. Each of the tax proposals needs a more detailed examination for its specificities of implementation, following the results of this study.
Since the late 1990s, the trend of plastic waste shipment from developed to developing countries has been increasing. In 2017, China announced an unprecedented ban on its import of most plastic waste, resulting in a sharp decline in global plastic waste trade flow and changes in the treatment structure of countries, whose impacts on global environmental sustainability are enormous but yet unexamined. Here, through the life cycle assessment (LCA) method, we quantified the environmental impacts of changes in the flow patterns and treatment methods of 6 types of plastic waste in 18 countries subsequent to the ban. In the short term, the ban significantly improved four midpoint indicators of environmental impact, albeit contributed to global warming. An annual saving of about 2.35 billion euros of eco-cost was realized, which is equivalent to 56% of plastic waste global trade value in 2017. To achieve global environmental sustainability in the long run, countries should gradually realize the transition from export to domestic management, and from landfill to recycling, which would realize eco-costs savings of about 1.54–3.20 billion euros.
Purpose Technology is an important force in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as it has the potential to impact entrepreneurial opportunities and processes. This paper explores the emerging technology of artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications for reverse logistics within the circular economy (CE). It considers key reverse logistics functions and outlines how AI is known to, or has the potential to, impact these functions. Design/methodology/approach The paper is conceptual and utilizes the literature from entrepreneurship, the CE and reverse logistics to explore the implications of AI for reverse logistics functions. Findings AI provides significant benefits across all functions and tasks in the reverse logistics process; however, the various reverse logistics functions and tasks rely on different forms of AI (mechanical, analytical, intuitive). Research limitations/implications The paper highlights the importance of technology, and in particular AI, as a key force in the digital entrepreneurial ecosystem and discusses the specific implications of AI for entrepreneurial practice. For researchers, the paper outlines avenues for future research within the entrepreneurship and/or CE domains of the study. Originality/value This paper is the first to present a structured discussion of AI's implications for reverse logistics functions and tasks. It addresses a call for more research on AI and its opportunities for the CE and emphasizes the importance of emerging technologies, particularly AI, as an external force within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The paper also outlines avenues for future research on AI in reverse logistics.
This paper was prepared as a background document for an OECD/EC high-level expert workshop on “Managing the transition to a circular economy in regions and cities” held on 5 July 2019 at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, France. It sets a basis for reflection and discussion. The background paper should not be reported as representing the official views of the European Commission, the OECD or one of its member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author(s).
The Circular Economy (CE) narrative is spreading at a global scale, addressing different actors and settings, and thus facing new theoretical and empirical challenges. However, CE initiatives in the Global South have tended to extrapolate developed countries’ perspectives, as if the CE provides a global and universal benchmark to converge to. Drawing from a political ecology of waste in Latin America and building on empirical data derived from two case studies of recycling initiatives in Argentina, we focus on how the issue of formalisation of previously informal recyclers could be framed within the CE. Then, we outline two contrasting models, the privatisation of informality on the one hand and the formalisation of commoning on the other. Thus we highlight the extent to which the CE narrative could be used to overlook power relations dynamics, or, to what extent it could be reframed to foster a CE “from below” that could provide a clear path to achieve greater levels of equity and social justice.
To achieve higher standards of sustainability, Pakistan has to shift towards the adoption of the Circular Bio-Economy (CBE) approach in its agriculture sector. However, to aid this transition, the determination of a sustainable waste management technology and supporting strategies is very essential. For this purpose, a hybrid methodology based on fuzzy Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) and fuzzy Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to the Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) is developed. The fuzzy approach used in both the cases is to address any sort of ambiguity during the decision-making process. From the fuzzy SWOT analysis, the decision-makers allocated the most importance to the "ease of adoption" criteria, among the list of internal factors. Whereas, from the list of external factors, the most importance was allocated to the "price competitiveness with respect to fossil feedstock" criteria. Also, composting and anaerobic digestion are considered to be the most sustainable technologies for valorizing the agricultural waste of Pakistan. However, composting showcases more opportunities for its adoption as compared to anaerobic digestion. Whereas, results from fuzzy TOPSIS suggest the provision of financial support to both the local farmers and investors to be the top-ranked strategy for the successful implementation of the CBE approach.
In recent decades, companies around the world have deployed an arsenal of tools-including IP law, hardware design, software restrictions, pricing strategies, and marketing messages-to prevent consumers from fixing the things they own. While this strategy has enriched companies almost beyond measure, it has taken billions of dollars out of the pockets of consumers and imposed massive environmental costs on the planet. In The Right to Repair, Aaron Perzanowski analyzes the history of repair to show how we've arrived at this moment, when a battle over repair is being waged-largely unnoticed-in courtrooms, legislatures, and administrative agencies. With deft, lucid prose, Perzanowski explains the opaque and complex legal landscape that surrounds the right to repair and shows readers how to fight back.
The literature on blockchain technology and circular economy is at a nascent stage, with only initial limited and superficial recognition of the possible role blockchain may have in supporting circular economy laws and policies. This paper contributes to this emerging area by exploring the regulatory opportunities and challenges for adoption of blockchain for circular waste management. In particular, through a mixed methods approach combining empirical and doctrinal research, this paper presents initial findings on: (1) the current role of blockchain within the legal landscape on circular economies; (2) the regulatory barriers of blockchain application to circular economies; and (3) opportunities of blockchain in supporting regulatory mechanisms promoting circularity.
Circular economy is a policy concept that requires mainstreaming to enable sustainable development through cleaner production and consumption. Unique among CE frontrunners, China's CE implementation is well-documented to be a major experimentation program at different scales. It therefore offers one example of CE upscaling. However, while China is the most studied CE case country, few works have conducted an in-depth analysis of its policy expansion through the scales of implementation. We take advantage of the abundant data source and review 104 scholarly works on Chinese CE policy development and implementation to find out the drivers and barriers behind its CE upscaling process. Our results show that the process was influenced by a complex interplay of centralized governance and multi-level dynamics through a rich portfolio of international, national and sub-national interactions, despite China's authoritarian governance. Yet, our results also suggest that China's macro-level CE development was hindered by implementation barriers stemming from weak multi-level governance. We conclude by drawing three generalizable key policy lessons for other regions and countries. These lessons are relevant for both ‘industrialized’ regions such as the EU with a longer history of prominent multilevel governance as well as ‘industrializing’ countries who look to China's development pathway as an alternative model of development to that of liberal democracy.
This review paper focuses on converting plastic wastes into clean hydrogen via gasification for better sustainability. In this regard, various aspects of hydrogen production from plastic wastes are discussed and comparatively evaluated, including the state-of-the-art and comparative evaluation, environmental and economical dimensions, global warming aspects, policies and strategies, a case study including energetic and exergetic performance evaluations, challenges and opportunities, and future directions possibly in the area. Additionally, this paper outlines what contributions it makes to the current literature about hydrogen production from plastic wastes by using gasification technologies. Moreover, this paper provides a detailed case study indicating exergetic sustainability aspects for hydrogen production from plastic wastes by applying plasma gasification whose data are taken from the literature. As a result of this case study, some exergetic sustainability indicators are studied for evaluation and comparison purposes. The exergetic sustainability index is found to be decreasing from 0.77 to 0.41 with the fact that exergetic efficiency drops from 0.43 to 0.28 while the environmental impact factor rises from 1.29 to 2.41 with the increase of waste exergy ratio from 0.56 to 0.70. Furthermore, plasma co-gasification can be recommended as an environmentally-benign solution for clean hydrogen production from plastic wastes. Highlights • Plastic wastes is an important source of hydrogen. • Gasification can efficiently be deployed for hydrogen production from plastic wastes. • In order to evaluate potential gasification techniques, energetic, economic, environmental, and sustainability aspects should be considered. • Plasma gasification appears to be more efficient and effective solution over other methods for higher amount of hydrogen production from plastic wastes.
Mismanaged plastic waste is a major environmental concern, especially in countries of the Global South. Municipal solid waste management can not only alleviate environmental problems but also create jobs and promote local economic growth. However, providing appropriate waste management services is costly. The question is to what extent waste management policies that have proven to be successful in other geographies can help solve the challenge in developing countries. Specifically, the economics and financial flows along the value chain need to be known. In this paper, we shed light on these questions by presenting a novel, model-based method to elicit and assess the cost structure of the recycling sector in developing countries. We exemplify our method with plastics waste management in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana—an area particularly challenged by plastic waste. For this purpose, we surveyed over 80 participants of the waste management value chain and combined the data with insights from expert interviews and workshops. Based on this data, we built a bottom-up model with 67 parameters, reflecting all cost positions in the waste management value chain. We found that street waste pickers are the poorest and most vulnerable, earning only a fraction of the already low minimum wage. Middlemen and aggregators, while often being criticized for their earnings, also provide social-security-like services to waste pickers. In addition, formal and informal recyclers differ not only in earnings and size but also in recyclate quality where the informal sector provides higher quality.
Countries around the world are devising and implementing bioeconomy strategies to initiate transformation towards sustainable futures. Modern concepts of bioeconomy extend beyond bio-based energy provision and include: (1) the substitution of fossil resource-based inputs to various productive sectors, such as the chemical industry and the construction sector, (2) more efficient, including new and cascading uses of biomass, and (3) a low bulk, but high-value biologisation of processes in agro-food, pharmaceutical, and recycling industries. Outcomes of past attempts at engineering transformation, however, proved to be context-dependent and contingent on appropriate governance measures. In this paper we theoretically motivate and apply a system-level theory of change framework that identifies central mechanisms and four distinct pathways, through which bio-based transformation can generate positive or negative outcomes in multiple domains of the Sustainable Development Goals. Based on emblematic examples from three bio-based sectors, we apply the framework illustrating how case-specific mixes of transformation pathways emerge and translate into outcomes. We find that the observed mixes of transformation pathways evoke distinct mechanisms that link bioeconomic change to sustainability gains and losses. Based on this insight we derive four key lessons that can help to inform the design of strategies to enable and regulate sustainable bioeconomies.
Implementing ecodesign principles is key to success for the circular economy. Ecodesign is based on life cycle thinking. During the product development process the designer will think about the environmental impact of the new product for each phase of the life cycle, starting from the extraction of the raw materials, production of materials out of these raw materials, the production techniques to transform the materials into components, assembly of these components into products, the distribution and packaging of the products, the use phase (the impact of consumables and energy consumption), and finally the end of use phase by the consumer. The possibility of repair, upgrade, remanufacture of products and the improvement of the recyclability of the materials starts with the design of the product. Ecodesign guidelines support the designer making decisions during the product development process. The ecodesign guidelines are often classified as “design for X” approaches, where X stands for the different phase in the life cycle of the product. These ecodesign guidelines are brought together in ecodesign tools. Three of these qualitative ecodesign tools are presented in this chapter. To verify all these ecodesign guidelines, the designer will be informed by each partner in the value chain to look for the best compromise. The designer has a key role in the chain collaboration, which is necessary for the transition to the circular economy. The designer's aim is to, develop products and services that fit in the circular economy with the ecodesign principles as a guide. Ecodesign can be considered as the copilot during the product development process. The designer always looks for the best compromise between the ecodesign guidelines and the other requirements of the product (technical, economic, and human-related).
This study examines the activities of the informal recycling sector in Abuja, Nigeria. This is no formal recycling programme in Abuja. Scavengers carry out waste segregation and identification for recyclable materials. The questionnaires were administered to one thousand, five hundred (1500) scavengers and scrap dealers (stakeholders) to obtain socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. The questionnaires contain age distribution, gender, marital status, education level, working hours, number of stakeholders, citizenship, experience on the job, materials recovered, quantities of recyclables, and income. The majority of the scavengers are between the ages of 21 and 40 years, and they work between 10–12 h. The scavengers are predominantly male. The scavengers sort out recyclables 19.76 kg/c/d. The estimated quantity of recyclables generated in Abuja is 133,688 kg per day (133.688 tons per day). A waste picker earns between N1000 ($2.8) and N1500 ($4.2) per day; itinerant dealers earn between N1500 ($2.8) and N2000 ($5.6) per day, and scrap dealers earn between N10, 000 ($27.77) and N15, 000 ($41.67) per day in Abuja. The activities of stakeholders contribute to the recovery and sorting of secondary waste recyclables. The study highlighted the challenges of scavengers.
States around the world are progressively protecting environmental rights. The Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for environmental rights under Articles 42, 69 and 70. However, this study argues that there is need to reconceptualise the right to a clean and healthy environment as established under Article 42, as the right is geared towards human utility rather than intrinsic environmental protection. Thus, the right is shrouded with anthropocentric concerns which may be construed as insufficient in the protection of natural resources, ecosystems and other non-human species for their ecological and intrinsic value. Accordingly, the study examines the right to a clean and healthy environment as envisaged in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and, from that context, assesses the efficacy of anthropocentric environmental rights in environmental conservation highlighting the potential challenges faced in their implementation. As a way forward, the study recommends bicentric environmental rights as an alternative to anthropocentric environmental rights. The study realises its objectives through the use of case law and literature review.
Marine plastic pollution is caused by humans and has become ubiquitous in the marine environment. Despite the widely acknowledged ecological consequences, the scientific evidence regarding detrimental human health impacts is currently debated, and there is no substantive evidence surrounding public opinion with respect to marine plastic pollution and human health. Results from a 15-country survey (n = 15,179) found that both the European and Australian public were highly concerned about the potential human health impacts of marine plastic pollution, and strongly supported the funding of research which aims to better understand its health/wellbeing implications. Multi-level modelling revealed that these perceptions varied across socio-demographic factors (e.g. gender), political orientation, marine contact factors (e.g. marine occupation and engagement in coastal recreation activities) and personality traits (e.g. openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness). Quantifying attitudes, as well as understanding how individual-level differences shape risk perception will enable policy makers and communicators to develop more targeted communications and initiatives that target a reduction in marine plastic pollution.
Global plastic pollution has been a serious problem since many years and micro (nano) plastics (MNPs) have gained attention from researchers around the world. This is because MNPs able to exhibit toxicology and interact with potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in the environment, causing soil toxicity. The influences of MNPs on the soil systems and plant crops have been overlooked despite that MNPs can accumulate in the plant root system and generate detrimental impacts to the terrestrial environments. The consumption of these MNPs-contaminated plants or fruits by humans and animals will eventually lead to health deterioration. The identification and measurement of MNPs in various soil samples is challenging, making the understanding of the fate, environmental and ecological of MNPs in terrestrial ecosystem is limited. Prior to sample assessment, it is necessary to isolate the plastic particles from the environment samples, concentrate the plastic particles for analysis purpose to meet detection limit for analytical instrument. The isolation and pre-concentrated steps are challenging and may cause sample loss. Herein, this article reviews MNPs, including their fate in the environment and toxic effects exhibited towards soil microorganisms, plants and humans along with the interaction of MNPs with PTEs. In addition, various analysis methods of MNPs and management of MNPs as well as the crucial challenges and future research studies in combating MNPs in soil system are also discussed in this review article.
In Reconsidering REDD+: Authority, Power and Law in the Green Economy, Julia Dehm provides a critical analysis of how the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme operates to reorganise social relations and to establish new forms of global authority over forests in the Global South, in ways that benefit the interests of some actors while further marginalising others. In accessible prose that draws on interdisciplinary insights, Dehm demonstrates how, through the creation of new legal relations, including property rights and contractual obligations, new forms of transnational authority over forested areas in the Global South are being constituted. This important work should be read by anyone interested in a critical analysis of international climate law and policy that offers insights into questions of political economy, power, and unequal authority.
There is no evidence-based discussion on the intended and unintended global social impacts, such as changes in employment, of the European Union's (EU) transition towards the Circular Economy (CE). Consequently, its ethical implications are nebulous. Therefore, this paper assesses CE-induced global employment shifts using the example of the apparel value chains of apparel imported to the EU from the top five exporting countries: China, Bangladesh, India, Turkey and Cambodia. The discussion of the results is based on the ethical framework for global transformative change that applies justice considerations on sustainability transitions. This paper is the first sector-specific quantitative study on the employment effects of the EU transition on a global scale, including ethical dimensions of those effects, as far as we are aware. Overall, this paper contributes to the broader discussion of CE-induced social effects of sustainability transitions. Its results indicate that employment could significantly decrease in low- to upper-middle-income countries outside the EU, in particular in labour-intense apparel production. Employment could increase in less-labour intense downstream reuse and recycling activities in the EU and second-hand retail in- and outside the EU. From an ethical perspective, the benefits and disadvantages of the circular transition seem to be unevenly distributed, with the main adverse effects to be carried by non-EU stakeholders.
The notion of a circular economy is often presented in discourses on a more sustainable future. A circular economy proposes more efficient material flows in growth-based economy and in support of sustainable development. Repair is presented as one of the phases in a circular economy and supports product lifetime extension. The paper brings a particular form of repair, community repair, into discourses on a circular economy. Data from a world-wide initiative in community repair and from participant observation in a Repair Café provide new insights in the possible roles and challenges of repair in a circular economy. Notions of efficiency and economic growth are contested in community repair; repair contributes to product lifetime extension and product attachment through acts of tinkering, sharing, and care. The analysis points to an inseparability of the material and social in community repair, contributing to a non-reductionist understanding of a circular economy. Community repair is a sociomaterial entanglement of people and things. This enables a different perspective on the role of repair, from merely a phase in the material flows in a circular economy to a sustainable way of living with things in a circular economy.
The increasing volume of resources demanded by a growing world population, and the concomitant need for safeguarding nature, has led to the development of a second generation of technologies that use bio-waste as a resource for diverse industrial sectors. Bearing in mind the widespread availability and significant potential of agri-food and forest wastes in particular, this review intends to provide an overview of the current scientific, technological and commercial trends on valorization of these bio-resources. To that end, the specialized literature on circular bioeconomy (CBE), major high added-value product typologies, their feedstocks and respective processing technologies are reviewed and framed in face of relevant patent literature and commercial products. Scientific articles are focused on chemicals for varied industrial sectors, derived essentially from agri-food wastes by using biotechnological processes. Patents and commercial products focus is also on agri-food wastes but mainly on products for the food industry and using predominantly physical processes, seldom combined with chemical and biotechnological processes. Societal benefits of products and processes, including environmental perspectives, are most frequently cited and aligned with the CBE concept. Despite the significant evolution observed in the last two decades, and an increasing volume of related patents, CBE research is not yet significantly mirrored by the market, showing that its full potential is still far from being realized. For further progressing towards an impactful CBE, it is suggested that there is a need to develop further evidence that CBE-inspired products are indeed preferable to their fossil-based counterparts, from both the economic and societal points of view, including environmental sustainability, and to communicate extensively the findings to the society at large.
Despite high estimated gains of a circular economy implementation, progress on the macro, meso and micro level is sluggish. The purpose of this paper is to examine, from a theoretical economics perspective, how four barriers – technological, market, institutional and cultural – can prevent the implementation of a circular economy. The barriers that currently hinder a circular economy from developing are identified and a mapping of these barriers is performed to understand how they are interdependent and entangled. The conclusion is that even small barriers could stop the emergence of a circular economy. Even though a circular economy is different from our traditional “linear” economy, the theoretical analysis in this paper gives no reason to believe that a circular economy will not follow the same rules as a traditional economy. There will be property rights, rule of law and price signals guiding the economy. If some of the essential parts of a market are lacking, a weaker circular economy than otherwise possible will materialize.