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Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources

A section of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Section Information

Over the last decades, the use of primary resources has been increased due to the growing global population, the improvement of economies and a new life-style which is changing the habits of populations from high income and developing countries. However, some goods, such as fossil fuels, free lands, metals and mineral reserves are mostly limited, while renewable resources such as water and recyclable materials are commonly mismanaged. As a result, the sustainable use of resources is becoming mandatory for the development of current economies in a viable way, in order to maintain a clean environment for long time.

Since the second half of the 20th century, research and studies have focused their interest on environmental concerns such as air pollution, water and soil contamination, excessive mine extraction, deforestation, waste mismanagement and unplanned land use, among others. This attention is due to the increasing frequency of events which affect the lives of people worldwide and which are introduced mostly by anthropic activity. Hence, changing the form of industrialization, resource management and project development has been suggested by many authors, providing many solutions that can be viewed as a real opportunity. For example, the main solution suggested is the inclusion of the so-called “Circular Economy” in current and future management plans. This theory has been developed in order to encourage change in the general behavior of public policies which adopted the concept of the linear economy (i.e., buy–use–waste), introducing a few management steps to change the end-of-life stage of resources, with the aim of recovering and reusing something that is not necessary at the current moment. Thus, the reuse of recyclable materials, the inclusion of renewable energies, the treatment of wastewater for its reuse, the construction of new facilities adopting green policies (reducing the energy consumption and improving efficiencies), and the reuse of low-value materials, are all solutions that were recommended for the enhancement of new economies in a sustainable manner and by viable means. On one hand, many efforts were introduced at international and local level for the adoption of these proposals into new management policies. On the other, more studies are required, in order to boost the development of sustainable technologies and projects.

This section focuses on original research and reviews regarding the sustainable development and re-use of natural resources according to the principle of the Circular Economy. In this framework, studies concerning the sustainable use of water resources, biomass valorization, recycling of waste, energy recovery, renewable energy provision and the sustainable exploitation of natural resources are welcome as well as other related arguments, in the form of both specialized and interdisciplinary manuscripts.

Prof. Dr. Eng. Vincenzo Torretta
Section Editor-in-Chief

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