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Open AccessArticle

Environmental Trade-Offs of Downcycling in Circular Economy: Combining Life Cycle Assessment and Material Circularity Indicator to Inform Circularity Strategies for Alkaline Batteries

1
Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainable Chemistry (ISM – CyVi), University of Bordeaux, 33405 CEDEX Talence, France
2
Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1040; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031040
Received: 15 December 2020 / Revised: 14 January 2021 / Accepted: 18 January 2021 / Published: 20 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
The application of circularity strategies to improve resource use and recovery should be considered with their potential impacts on the environment. Their effectiveness could be evaluated by combining the material circularity indicator (MCI) and life cycle assessment (LCA) methods. Environmental trade-offs may be underestimated for some strategies given that the loss of material quality with recycling has not been captured within the methodological framework of MCI. The current study demonstrates how significantly this limitation may influence the trade-offs in a case study. The methods are applied to several scenarios for the circularity improvement of alkaline batteries. The joint interpretation of MCI and LCA scores is carried out using waterfall charts and normalized indicator scores. Results suggest that improving circularity generally reduces environmental impacts, although there is large variability among two sets of values. For example, an increase of MCI score by 14% for two recycling scenarios translates to a small reduction of impacts in one case (0.06–1.64%) and a large reduction in another (9.84–56.82%). Observations from the case study are used to discuss the design and scope of MCI use and its combining with LCA. Lastly, we draw on the opportunities of the new comparative approach. View Full-Text
Keywords: circularity; material circularity indicator; life cycle assessment; trade-offs; alkaline batteries circularity; material circularity indicator; life cycle assessment; trade-offs; alkaline batteries
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MDPI and ACS Style

Glogic, E.; Sonnemann, G.; Young, S.B. Environmental Trade-Offs of Downcycling in Circular Economy: Combining Life Cycle Assessment and Material Circularity Indicator to Inform Circularity Strategies for Alkaline Batteries. Sustainability 2021, 13, 1040. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031040

AMA Style

Glogic E, Sonnemann G, Young SB. Environmental Trade-Offs of Downcycling in Circular Economy: Combining Life Cycle Assessment and Material Circularity Indicator to Inform Circularity Strategies for Alkaline Batteries. Sustainability. 2021; 13(3):1040. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031040

Chicago/Turabian Style

Glogic, Edis; Sonnemann, Guido; Young, Steven B. 2021. "Environmental Trade-Offs of Downcycling in Circular Economy: Combining Life Cycle Assessment and Material Circularity Indicator to Inform Circularity Strategies for Alkaline Batteries" Sustainability 13, no. 3: 1040. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031040

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