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Concept Paper

Closing the Loop Between Energy Production and Waste Management: A Conceptual Approach Towards Sustainable Development

Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aristotle University Thessaloniki, Box 483, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5995; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155995
Received: 24 June 2020 / Revised: 15 July 2020 / Accepted: 23 July 2020 / Published: 25 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Engineering and Decision Support for Sustainable Development)
Interactions between technological solutions for managing waste and energy supply chains are multilateral and can vary significantly, depending on multiple criteria and different characteristics. This concept paper puts forward a conceptual framework for sustainable development based on the notion of “intelligence” for Waste-to-Energy (WtE) strategies. The pillars of intelligence are defined and the quadruple helix model for energy transitions based on waste management is established. The “smart” nodes of a WtE supply chain management are analytically presented and discussed. Nevertheless, the intelligent notion for a supply chain cannot stand on its own. Systematical support of a participatory process is needed via Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and e-techniques to be promoted for collective facilitation and sustainable management. This process encompasses intelligent residents and professionals as producers of waste and smart managers to supervise the supply chain towards sustainable management of energy and waste resources. It is argued that the ICT participatory interface has a multiplying effect, especially when adopting the middle pathway approach in local and/or decentralized level towards smart energy production from waste. Innovative solutions to maximize waste efficiency through the collaborative power of ICT networks is critical to be deployed within local communities. These can be based on internet of things, big data, operational modeling, complex systems science, games and narratives, and social networks. The conceptual framework presented herein provides a basis for decision support towards sustainable development and interaction through a creative pathway of collaboration applicable to all the levels of potential synergies. Main conclusions and future challenges indicate that more research effort is required by the scientific community to leverage on the collaborative power of social networks and to efficiently apply ICT methods for adopting the “socially-oriented” middle pathway approach within communities’ empowerment. Only on this basis may the tale of two challenges have a happy end, both for energy transition and waste management. View Full-Text
Keywords: middle pathway approach; ICT; intelligent pillars; quadruple WtE helix; participatory management interface; synergies middle pathway approach; ICT; intelligent pillars; quadruple WtE helix; participatory management interface; synergies
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MDPI and ACS Style

Vlachokostas, C. Closing the Loop Between Energy Production and Waste Management: A Conceptual Approach Towards Sustainable Development. Sustainability 2020, 12, 5995. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155995

AMA Style

Vlachokostas C. Closing the Loop Between Energy Production and Waste Management: A Conceptual Approach Towards Sustainable Development. Sustainability. 2020; 12(15):5995. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155995

Chicago/Turabian Style

Vlachokostas, Christos. 2020. "Closing the Loop Between Energy Production and Waste Management: A Conceptual Approach Towards Sustainable Development" Sustainability 12, no. 15: 5995. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155995

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