The library contains a wealth of information on the circular economy for use by policy makers and analysts conducting impact assessments. For more information on impact assessments and the EU's Better Regulation Agenda, please click here.
Almut Reichel, Mieke De Schoenmakere, Jeroen Gillabel
This report seeks to help policy makers to better understand the circular economy, by focusing on four of its dimensions; the main enabling factors and transition challenges, indicators for measuring progress and contextual issues. One of the main conclusions regarding the monitoring of progress is that for now the focus is on developments in resource efficiency and waste management, which covers a part, but not the whole, of the circular economy. More data is needed on eco-design, the sharing economy, and repair and reuse. Furthermore, social indicators, industrial symbiosis indicators...
José Potting, Marko Hekkert, Ernst Worrell, Aldert Hanemaaijer
This Dutch study aims to explore how the transition to a circular economy can be measured in the production chain and focuses on asking relevant policy questions for plastic packaging (bottles and other plastic packaging) and electrical devices (washing machines and dryers, and fridges and freezers). However, it does not provide corresponding indicators.
Three types of CE-transitions are identified:
• CE-transitions that place the development of a specific, radical new technology central
• CE-transitions that place socio-economic change central
This report wants to provide countries and their policy makers who are interested in a transition to the circular economy with a toolkit. To test this toolkit, a case study was performed for Denmark. It focused on opportunities in several sectors; food and beverage, construction and real estate, machinery, plastic packaging and hospitals. Eight important conclusions were drawn:
• The transition to a circular economy can deliver the expected lasting benefits of a more innovative, resilient and productive economy.
• The circular economy provides many opportunities that are...
INSPIREWATER is an EU funded project which will enable process industry companies to implement sustainable water treatment solutions as part of a corporate sustainability strategy. This will be achieved via the development, demonstration and exploitation of innovative, eco-efficient technologies which will support sustainable water resources management. INSPIREWATER technologies will increase water and resource efficiency by 20-30% in the process industry. The project will focus initially on the steel and chemical industries, with the long-term goal of applying the technologies across...
The MAESTRI project aims to advance the sustainability of European manufacturing and process industries. This is done by providing a management system in the form of a flexible and scalable platform, and to guide and simplify the implementation of an innovative approach, the Total Efficiency Framework. The overall aim of this framework is to encourage a culture of improvement within process industries by assisting the decision-making process, supporting the development of improvement strategies and helping define the priorities to improve the company's environmental and economic...
The SAMT project (2015-2016) has now reached completion. The project focused on increasing integration of sustainability assessment methods in decision making by reviewing and making recommendations about the most potential methods, tools, and indicators for evaluating sustainability in the process industry. Final results from the SAMT project include a roadmap and an implementation plan towards the SAMT vision 2030 built together with industry and research organisations: "Sustainability assessment provides additional value for industrial decision-making. Related methods are widely...
RETRACE aims at promoting systemic design as a method allowing local and regional policies move towards a circular economy when waste from one productive process becomes input in another, preventing waste being released into the environment. RETRACE addresses the EU challenge of transitioning towards a Circular Economy following the priorities set up by the "Flagship Initiative for a Resource-efficient Europe" for a shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy to achieve sustainable growth as enshrined in Europe 2020 strategy and the EC Communication "Towards a circular economy:...
"This report explores the circular economy from a product perspective, applying a systemic approach and transition theory. Drivers of product design and usage are discussed in the context of emerging consumption trends and business models. For governance to be effective, it has to address the product life-cycle and the societal context determining it. Indicators and assessment tools will be needed to fill the current data and knowledge gaps." (p. 6)
"Waste to wealth proves that 'green' and 'growth' need not to be binary alternatives. The book examines five new business models that provide circular growth from deploying sustainable resources to the sharing economy before setting out what business leaders need to do to implement the models succesfully." (https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781137530684)
Recovery of resources, in particular, metals, from waste flows is widely seen as a prioritized option to reduce their potential supply constraints in the future. The current waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) treatment system is more focused on bulk metals, where the recycling rate of specialty metals, such as rare earths, is negligible compared to their increasing use in modern products, such as electronics. This study investigates the challenges in recovering these resources in the existing WEEE treatment system. It is illustrated by following the material flows of...
Zhi Sun, Yanping Xiao, Hanneke Agterhuis, Jilt Sietsma, Yongxiang Yang
Journal of Cleaner Production
Urban mining has attracted increasing attention as a research topic, owing to the high growth rate, environmental issues, and market potential of waste generated in urban areas. Metal recovery from such waste has become increasingly important especially in accordance with the concept of metal criticality. This study develops a model by evaluating various types of urban waste in order to understand the criticality of these waste streams and determine their potential for metal recovery. Two factors, i.e. the resource index and technology index, are defined and assessed through a systematic...
Federica Cucchiella, Idiano D'Adamo, S.C.Lenny Koh, Paolo Rosa
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipments (WEEEs) is currently considered to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, with an estimated growth rate going from 3% up to 5% per year. The recycling of Electric or electronic waste (E-waste) products could allow the diminishing use of virgin resources in manufacturing and, consequently, it could contribute in reducing the environmental pollution. Given that EU is trying, since the last two decades, to develop a circular economy based on the exploitation of resources recovered by wastes, a comprehensive framework supporting...
Koen Binnemans, Peter Tom Jones, Bart Blanpain, Tom Van Gerven, Yongxiang Yang, Allan Walton, Matt-hias Buchert
Journal of Cleaner Production
The rare-earth elements (REEs) are becoming increasingly important in the transition to a green economy, due to their essential role in permanent magnets, lamp phosphors, catalysts, rechargeable batteries etc. With China presently producing more than 90% of the global REE output and its increasingly tight export quota, the rest of the world is confronted with a REE supply risk. Mining companies are now actively seeking new exploitable REE deposits while some old mines are being reopened. Because of the absence of economical and/or operational primary deposits on their territory, many...
Megan P. O'Connor, Julie B. Zimmerman, Paul T. Anastas, and Desiree L. Plata
ACS Sustainable Che. Eng.
Rapid innovation in the field of electronic technologies through the use of rare earth and specialty elements (RESE) has made the electronics industry one of the most rapidly evolving industries to date. However, innovations to har-vest these same materials from complex waste streams have not kept pace, thus leading to an unsustainable material supply chain reliant on the mining of increasingly difficult-to-extract ores. Here, we aim to provide a strategy to mitigate these challenges, identifying the technical research and development needed to further sustainable electronics through Green...
The issues associated with the supply of rare-earth metals are a vivid reminder to all of us that natural resources are limited. Japan's Element Strategy Initiative is a good example of a long-term strategy towards the sustainable use of scarce elements.
"This report reviews briefly the historical criteria for critical raw materials currently under review by the Commission and the Joint Research Centre (JRC), and notes that many critical materials still have very low recycling rates which increases the demand for virgin materials and therefore reduces lifetime of supply. EASAC is in broad agreement with the criteria that the Commission proposes to apply in selecting critical materials for the new list in 2017 but notes that environmental impacts of extraction of raw materials are substantial and should be considered in the criticality...