Resources2014, 3(3), 544-574; doi:10.3390/resources3030544 (registering DOI) - published 28 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The concept Material Input per Service Unit (MIPS) was developed 20 years ago as a measure for the overall natural resource use of products and services. The material intensity analysis is used to calculate the material footprint of any economic activities in production and consumption. Environmental assessment has developed extensive databases for life cycle inventories, which can additionally be adopted for material intensity analysis. Based on practical experience in measuring material footprints on the micro level, this paper presents the current state of research and methodology development: it shows the international discussions on the importance of accounting methodologies to measure progress in resource efficiency. The MIPS approach is presented and its micro level application for assessing value chains, supporting business management, and operationalizing sustainability strategies is discussed. Linkages to output-oriented Life Cycle Assessment as well as to Material Flow Analysis (MFA) at the macro level are pointed out. Finally we come to the conclusion that the MIPS approach provides relevant knowledge on resource and energy input at the micro level for fact-based decision-making in science, policy, business, and consumption.
Abstract: Transitioning from current resource management practice dominated by linear economic models of consumption and production, to circular models of resource use, will require insights into the stages and processes associated with socio-technical transitions. This paper is concerned with transitions in practice. It explores two frameworks within the transitions literature—the multi-level perspective and transition management theory—for practical guidance to inform a deliberate transition in practice. The critical futures literature is proposed as a source of tools and methods to be used in conjunction with the transition frameworks to influence and enable transitions in practice. This enhanced practical guidance for initiating action is applied to a specific context—transitioning the Australian metals sector towards a circular economy model. This particular transition case study is relevant because the vision of a circular economy model of resource management is gaining traction internationally, Australia is significant globally as a supplier of finite mineral resources and it will also be used in a collaborative research project on Wealth from Waste to investigate possibilities for the circular economy and metals recycling.
Abstract: The paper suggests a sustainable material footprint of eight tons, per person, in a year as a resource cap target for household consumption in Finland. This means an 80% (factor 5) reduction from the present Finnish average. The material footprint is used as a synonym to the Total Material Requirement (TMR) calculated for products and activities. The paper suggests how to allocate the sustainable material footprint to different consumption components on the basis of earlier household studies, as well as other studies, on the material intensity of products, services, and infrastructures. It analyzes requirements, opportunities, and challenges for future developments in technology and lifestyle, also taking into account that future lifestyles are supposed to show a high degree of diversity. The targets and approaches are discussed for the consumption components of nutrition, housing, household goods, mobility, leisure activities, and other purposes. The paper states that a sustainable level of natural resource use by households is achievable and it can be roughly allocated to different consumption components in order to illustrate the need for a change in lifestyles. While the absolute material footprint of all the consumption components will have to decrease, the relative share of nutrition, the most basic human need, in the total material footprint is expected to rise, whereas much smaller shares than at present are proposed for housing and especially mobility. For reducing material resource use to the sustainable level suggested, both social innovations, and technological developments are required.
Abstract: This study evaluated the long-term implications of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) on livelihoods and natural resource (NR) dynamics under a market-oriented approach to conservation. Drawing examples from the Luangwa Valley in eastern Zambia, the study sought to answer questions on two closely interrelated aspects. These included the contribution of PPP to sustainable livelihoods in and around Protected Areas (PAs) and its impacts on natural resources in Game Management Areas (GMAs). Quantitative data were collected from PPP participating and non-PPP households using standardized structured interviews, while qualitative data were obtained from three chiefdoms using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Taking the case of Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) in eastern Zambia, results of this study showed that PPP contributed to sustainable livelihoods and overall natural resources management through varied ways. These include promotion of conservation farming, agroforestry, poacher transformation (individuals who have given up poaching due to PPP interventions) and provision of markets for the produce of participating households. Further, impacts of PPP on soil fertility, crop, and honey yields were statistically significant (p ˂ 0.05). A combination of increased crop productivity and household incomes has seen a 40-fold increase in poacher transformation. The results of this study suggest that PPPs, if well-structured, have the potential to address both livelihoods and enterprise needs with an ultimate benefit of promoting both sustainable livelihoods and natural resources management around PAs in tropical Africa.
Abstract: This paper evaluates, for a 2030 scenario, the impact on onshore power systems in terms of the variability of the power generated by 81 GW of offshore wind farms installed in the North Sea. Meso-scale reanalysis data are used as input for computing the hourly power production for offshore wind farms, and this total production is analyzed to identify the largest aggregated hourly power variations. Based on publicly available information, a simplified representation of the coastal power grid is built for the countries bordering the North Sea. Wind farms less than 60 km from shore are connected radially to the mainland, while the rest are connected to a hypothetical offshore HVDC (High-Voltage Direct Current) power grid, designed such that wind curtailment does not exceed 1% of production. Loads and conventional power plants by technology and associated cost curves are computed for the various national power systems, based on 2030 projections. Using the MATLAB-based MATPOWER toolbox, the hourly optimal power flow for this regional hybrid AC/DC grid is computed for high, low and medium years from the meso-scale database. The largest net load variations are evaluated per market area and related to the extra load-following reserves that may be needed from conventional generators.
Abstract: The concept of the circular economy proposes new patterns of production, consumption and use, based on circular flows of resources. Under a scenario where there is a global shift towards the circular economy, this paper discusses the advent of two parallel and yet-to-be-connected trends for Australia, namely: (i) responsible minerals supply chains and (ii) additive manufacturing, also known as 3D production systems. Acknowledging the current context for waste management, the paper explores future interlinked questions which arise in the circular economy for responsible supply chains, additive manufacturing, and metals recycling. For example, where do mined and recycled resources fit in responsible supply chains as inputs to responsible production? What is required to ensure 3D production systems are resource efficient? How could more distributed models of production, enabled by additive manufacturing, change the geographical scale at which it is economic or desirable to close the loop? Examples are given to highlight the need for an integrated research agenda to address these questions and to foster Australian opportunities in the circular economy.