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Resources 2017, 6(1), 5; doi:10.3390/resources6010005

Toward a Framework for Resource Efficiency Evaluation in Industry: Recommendations for Research and Innovation Projects

1
Department of Sustainable Organic Chemistry and Technology (EnVOC), Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University—Campus Coupure, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
2
European Commission—Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Via E. Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra, Italy
3
Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Institute of Pharmacy, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Lessingstr. 8, 07743 Jena, Germany
4
Laboratory of Industrial Water and Ecotechnology (LIWET), Department of Industrial Biological Sciences, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University—Campus Kortrijk, Graaf Karel de Goedelaan 5, 8500 Kortrijk, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Witold-Roger Poganietz
Received: 24 October 2016 / Revised: 10 January 2017 / Accepted: 11 January 2017 / Published: 18 January 2017
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [949 KB, uploaded 18 January 2017]   |  

Abstract

The world is facing a tremendous resource supply challenge. One strategy of regions and nations to address this issue is to encourage research and innovation through funding programs. Most of the time, these programs require that research and innovation projects quantify potential increases in resource efficiency achieved by the projects. However, no consensus exists on how to calculate resource efficiency; therefore, a wide range of approaches is followed. As a result, resource efficiency results are not comparable between projects, and because no rules or guidelines exist to help project developers, the approach followed is not always appropriate. This paper aims to discuss the existing approaches and methods used to evaluate resource efficiency. In this context, resource efficiency is defined as the ratio between the benefits obtained from resources and the impact or amount of resources used. The most challenging step is the determination of this ratio’s denominator because a wide range of methods to quantify resource consumption exist and are being used. They can be classified as gate-to-gate or life cycle based methods and can be subdivided into accounting methods and impact assessment methods. Each method considers different aspects of resources; thus, no single method aims to answer the same research questions. Therefore, project developers must make a well informed choice about which method to use. This paper provides recommendations to support this choice, as well as the overall evaluation and the valorization of the resource efficiency ratio in the framework of research and innovation programs. View Full-Text
Keywords: process efficiency; resource consumption; life cycle assessment; sustainable innovation process efficiency; resource consumption; life cycle assessment; sustainable innovation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sfez, S.; Dewulf, J.; De Soete, W.; Schaubroeck, T.; Mathieux, F.; Kralisch, D.; De Meester, S. Toward a Framework for Resource Efficiency Evaluation in Industry: Recommendations for Research and Innovation Projects. Resources 2017, 6, 5.

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