Journal Circular Economy And Sustainability

The Circular Economy and Sustainability journal aims to bring a new approach of the key concepts of circular economy and sustainability, by combining the scientific disciplines of economy, management, engineering, technology, environment, and society.

As circular economy is necessary today to promote the goals of sustainable development, these scientific areas are not independent to each other, but their relations, interactions and synergies exist and should be further developed and studied. Interdisciplinary approaches and multiple connections between these scientific areas are required not only to reach the sustainability goals but also to solve diverse environmental problems, expand technological limits and overcome potential economic disturbances.

This approach is expressed with new policies (command and control, market-based instruments, and circular public procurement), technological suggestions (e.g. technical cycle solutions), environmental engineering technologies (e.g., waste management, 3r strategies, water recycle, wastewater treatment and reuse, renewable energy), circular business models, circular innovations, circular management solutions, consumers’ behavior in circular economy, new circular economy products labels and social acceptance in circular economy. These topics could be classified in three levels; the micro-level (firm-level engineering and managerial level), meso-level (industrial ecology, industrial symbiosis, eco-clusters, eco-industrial parks), and macro-level (general policies, plans, green and sustainable entrepreneurship).

All content in the journal will in 2020 and 2021 be freely accessible to everyone


Latest Results

The latest content available from Springer
  • Circular Economy and Sustainability
    06 August 2022
  • Sustainability in Numbers by Data Analytics
    06 August 2022

    Abstract

    For a successful delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and to track the progress of UNSDGs as well as identify the gaps and the areas requiring more attention, periodic analyses on the “research on sustainability” by various countries and their contribution to the topic are inevitable. This paper tracks the trends in sustainability research including the geographical distribution on sustainability research, their level of multi-disciplinarity and the cross-border collaboration, their distribution of funding with respect to the UNSDGs, and the lifecycle analyses. Cumulative publications and patents on sustainability could be fitted to an exponential function, thereby highlighting the importance of the research on sustainability in the recent past. Besides, this analytics quantifies cross-border collaborations and knowledge integration to solve critical issues as well as traditional and emerging sources to undertake sustainability research. As an important aspect of resource sustainability and circular economy, trends in publication and funding on lifecycle assessment have also been investigated. The analytics present here identify that major sustainability research volume is from the social sciences as well as business and economics sectors, whereas contributions from the engineering disciplines to develop technologies for sustainability practices are relatively lower. Similarly, funding distribution is also not evenly distributed under various SDGs; the larger share of funding has been on energy security and climate change research. Thus, this study identifies many gaps to be filled for the UNSDGs to be successful.

  • The Proof Is in the Pudding: Using a Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate the Long-Term Effectiveness of a Household Food Waste Reduction Intervention During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    03 August 2022

    Abstract

    To halve per capita global food waste by 2030, policies and programs that effectively reduce household food waste generation are needed. Building upon a previous randomized controlled trial, this study evaluated the long-term effectiveness of the “Reduce Food Waste, Save Money” household food waste reduction intervention by comparing direct measurements of household food waste generated by treatment (n = 47) and control households (n = 52) over three time periods. The results indicate that there has been a long-term, sustained 30% reduction of avoidable food waste sent to landfill by treatment households following the implementation of this intervention. Additionally, this study assessed the impact of pandemic circumstances on the quantity and composition of household food waste by comparing direct measurements of food waste generated by the same households before (October 2017) and during (June 2020) the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first wave of the pandemic in Ontario, Canada, study households (n = 99) sent 2.98 kg of food waste to landfill per week, of which 54% was classified as avoidable food waste, and the remaining 46% as unavoidable food waste. During the pandemic, the generation of unavoidable food waste significantly increased by 65% (p < 0.01). There were also significant changes to the composition of wasted food, including a 78% increase in avoidable fruit and vegetables (p < 0.01), a 228% increase in avoidable other food (p < 0.01), and an 84% increase in unavoidable other food (p = 0.02).

  • Contaminated by Its Prior Use: Strategies to Design and Market Refurbished Personal Care Products
    30 July 2022

    Abstract

    Refurbishment is an effective circular strategy to lengthen a product’s lifetime. However, refurbished products that are intimately used, such as personal care products, cause a feeling of unease in consumers because they are perceived to be contaminated. In 15 in-depth online interviews with female users of intense pulsed light (IPL) device living in the Netherlands, we explored why consumers have contamination concerns regarding an IPL device and proposed strategies to decrease these. Participants felt that refurbished personal care products with signs of wear-and-tear were a riskier choice and expected that the device would malfunction, have a shorter product lifetime, and would be contaminated due to the previous use. Based on the location and amount of wear-and-tear, participants made inferences on how the prior user had treated the device. While light wear-and-tear indicated normal use, heavy wear-and-tear was interpreted as a sign of bad treatment by the previous user. To keep refurbished personal care products at their highest value, we suggest five design strategies to minimize contamination concerns by designing a product that smells and looks hygienic after multiple lifecycles: (1) using colors that evoke associations with hygiene, (2) making signs of wear-and-tear less visible, (3) using smooth (cleanable) materials, (4) minimizing the number of split lines in the product, and (5) giving refurbished products a clean product smell. For refurbished personal care products with signs of wear-and-tear that cannot be eliminated, we propose mitigating consumers’ contamination concerns with marketing strategies, such as fostering a good brand image, offering refurbished products at a lower price, with an extended warranty, and underlining expert check-ups and standards during refurbishment.

    Graphical abstract

  • Systematic Literature Review: Inter-Reletedness of Innovation, Resilience and Sustainability - Major, Emerging Themes and Future Research Directions
    25 July 2022

    Abstract

    Rationale

    Research has been using resilience, sustainability and innovation interchangeably, but there is a lack of research that would provide an insight into how they are related to each other. This systematic literature review thus investigates research on sustainability, innovation and resilience, how they are related to each other, and also identifies major, emerging themes and future research directions on these topics.

    Procedure

    We used Bibliometrix software to visually describe articles with the highest number of citations, to present the thematic evolution of the field and present a historical map. The triangulation and thematic groups were identified and compared by two independent researchers. 

    Results

    Resilience is involved in processes, sustainability is concerned with the outcomes, while innovation represents a pathway to achieving both resilience and sustainability. Resilience can ensure the provision of the system functions in the face of shocks and stresses and sustainability can ensure the adequate performance of the system in general. Three major themes were identified, ‘socio-ecological systems’, ‘transformational innovation’ and ‘political governance’, as well as three emerging themes, ‘food security and agriculture’, ‘businesses and finance’ and ‘interconnected systems’. There is a need for longitudinal, multi-scale and interdisciplinary research that would explore various aspects of integrating these concepts. 

    Conclusion

    There is a great overlap between the concepts of resilience, sustainability and innovation. Future research could study these concepts in relation to each other. 

  • How User Manuals Support the Diagnosis of Common Faults in Household Appliances: an Analysis of 150 Manuals
    15 July 2022

    Abstract

    Product repairs are at the core of sustainable consumption and user manuals can play a relevant role in facilitating them. They are the accredited source of product information for end users and are therefore sought as an important means for the diagnosis and subsequent repair of household appliances. However, despite increasing societal demand for repairable products, few studies have been conducted on the extent to which manuals contribute to the fault diagnosis and subsequent repair process. In this study, we analysed current guidance provided by manuals for the diagnosis process, answering the research question: ‘To what extent do user manuals provide sufficient information to diagnose the most frequent faults in household appliances?’ We examined the diagnosis instructions provided in the user manuals of four different household appliances using data on the appliances’ most frequently failing components, and a framework that considers three steps towards a successful diagnosis: fault detection, fault location, and fault isolation. In total, we analysed 150 user manuals of 48 brands available on the European market. We show that manuals do not instruct the diagnosis of frequently failing components. They mainly refer to causes of failure and directly recommend corrective actions after fault detection. Thus, they rarely include a three-step fault diagnosis process to identify and isolate a faulty component. Based on these results, we have extended the framework for the process of fault diagnosis to include a step from cause identification to corrective action. Both routes, the component-oriented and the cause-oriented route in fault diagnosis, should be considered during the design of products for easy fault diagnosis, and should be included in future regulations that address product reparability.

  • Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Potential of European Union’s Circularity Related Targets for Plastics
    14 July 2022

    Abstract

    Current rising concerns about environmental and climate impacts in production, consumption and end-of-life of plastics have led to efforts to switch from linear to circular economy of plastics in Europe. Greenhouse gas emissions are likely to decrease with a transition to a circular system; however, a systematic and integrated perspective on plastics and the carbon cycle is currently missing in the debate on plastics.

    In this study, a model to estimate greenhouse gas emissions of the current mostly linear plastics value chain of the EU in 2018 and a future scenario, 2025 model, were created. By 2025 if current policy targets are reached, the plastic packaging recycling rate should be 50%, PET-based drinking bottles should include 25% recycled content, 77% collection target for plastic bottles, 10 Mt recyclates should enter the markets, uptake of bio-based plastics is estimated by European bioplastics to increase from current 1 to 1.32% and landfilling will continue to decrease according to the current trend at 3.85%.

    Total greenhouse gas emissions caused by the current plastics value chain are estimated at 208 million tonnes of CO2-eq. The 2025 model estimates that total plastics value chain emissions will be 182 Mt of CO2-eq. Reduction potential is approximately 26 Mt of CO2-eq or 13%.

  • Examining Knowledge Diffusion in the Circular Economy Domain: a Main Path Analysis
    07 July 2022

    Abstract

    The circular economy (CE) field has recently attracted significant interest from academics and practitioners. CE represents a departure from the linear economy, which is characterised by unsustainable resource production and consumption. The growing number of publications necessitates a comprehensive analysis of this field. This is the first systematic examination of the knowledge base and knowledge diffusion pathways in the CE domain. We analyse a Web of Science dataset containing 5431 articles published between 1970 and 2020. To create a comprehensive review of the CE domain, we conducted a keyword co-occurrence network analysis. We examined four distinct types of main paths using the main path analysis (MPA) technique: forward, backward, global, and key-route. According to the analyses, CE research focuses on six primary research themes: CE and sustainability, bioeconomy, CE practices, lifecycle assessment and industrial symbiosis, construction activities, and waste management. In addition, the MPA demonstrates that the CE literature has recently focused on Industry 4.0 technologies and their contribution to CE. This is the first attempt to depict the genealogy of CE research so that scholars can comprehend the domain’s evolutionary structure, identify hot topics, and capture the history, development status, and potential future directions of CE research.

  • Measuring the Adoption of Circular Economy in Manufacturing Companies: the Proposal of the Overall Circularity Effectiveness (OCE) Index
    07 July 2022

    Abstract

    Circular economy (CE) has emerged as a strong contender for illuminating the path toward sustainability. Although companies are seen as the most important agents of change, the definition of goals and indicators for assessing the adoption of CE at the company level is still in the early phases. A company that wants to contribute to the CE, whether due to the ambition of the stakeholders or legal requirements, needs to understand what is really within its responsibilities and sphere of influence. However, measuring and evaluating the performance of circularity is still not a common practice in companies. In this context, this paper presents the development of the Overall Circularity Effectiveness (OCE) index to assess the circularity level of manufacturing companies by analyzing inputs and outputs. The index was developed following the design research methodology (DRM) with interactions between theory and practice, based on literature review, survey with companies, development, testing, and evaluation with companies. The paper also presents an application of the proposed index into a case study and discusses its usability and usefulness, comparing it with the existing company-level CE measurement approaches. The OCE was constructed to be simple to understand, practical to calculate through quantitative measures, relevant to the CE context, and generic to be applied in any type or size of manufacturing company. Although the index was developed to be used by any manufacturing company, it was applied in only four companies and all with material from the technical cycle.

  • Expediting the Implementation of Closed-Loop Supply Chain Management: a Facilitated Case Study on Re-using Timber in Construction Projects
    04 July 2022

    Abstract

    An increasing number of firms are aiming to implement closed-loop supply chain (CLSC) management to contribute to a more circular economy. However, for many of these firms, it is difficult to translate this strategic aim into fruitful operational decisions. They need to address many deep uncertainties and dynamic complexities in their supply chain system, which make their transition towards CLSC management challenging. This article aims to develop a better understanding of how supply chain actors taking steps towards CLSC management could be supported to reach higher levels of maturity in dealing with deep uncertainty and dynamic complexity. This is investigated in a single, facilitated, embedded case study: a future-oriented decision-making process regarding the use of timber with four real-world actors in the construction industry. The process is structured and supported with analyses, following a methodology based on the capability maturity approach. In this empirical context, the selected approach is shown to have positive effects on clarifying the potential impact of transitions to CLSC management. Furthermore, it stimulates important learning processes during the transition, and as such supports actors to achieve higher levels of maturity and to take further steps towards CLSC management. In this context, a conceptual distinction is made between ‘situational maturity’ and ‘mental maturity’, which enriches double-loop learning theory in the context of transitions.

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