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Article

Recycling Thermal Insulation Materials: A Case Study on More Circular Management of Expanded Polystyrene and Stonewool in Switzerland and Research Agenda

1
Laboratory on Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems (HERUS), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
2
Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ruben Vrijhoef
Resources 2021, 10(10), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources10100104
Received: 1 September 2021 / Revised: 4 October 2021 / Accepted: 8 October 2021 / Published: 13 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Construction Supply Chain Management for Circular Economy)
The limits to linear models of production based on material extraction, manufacture, use, and disposal are becoming increasingly apparent across the global economy. The Circular Economy (CE) describes an alternative to this problematic “take-make-waste” linear model that is concerned with resource efficiency and waste minimization. The construction and demolition sector represents an important focus for a CE transition due to its significant environmental impact. The use of thermal insulation to reduce energy demand associated with heating and cooling in buildings is vital for reducing the sector’s high environmental impact; however, there are significant challenges to recycling thermal insulation materials (IM). This study examines these challenges in the context of Switzerland and evaluates the potential for more circular management of expanded polystyrene and stonewool IM. The research provides an original analysis of the Swiss IM value chain in the context of the CE agenda based on a literature review, semi-structured interviews, and a workshop. Research gaps are highlighted based on scientific literature. The roles and agency of actors involved in the Swiss IM value chain are examined. Enablers of and barriers to wider IM recycling as reported by workshop participants are outlined. Interventions for tackling the current challenges faced for the recycling of thermal IM are suggested. Finally, an agenda for future research is proposed. Throughout the discussion, the importance of the involvement, commitment, and collaboration of stakeholders across the entire IM value chain for an effective and expedient transition to a CE is highlighted. View Full-Text
Keywords: circular economy; insulation material; recycling; barriers; workshop; research agenda circular economy; insulation material; recycling; barriers; workshop; research agenda
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MDPI and ACS Style

Superti, V.; Forman, T.V.; Houmani, C. Recycling Thermal Insulation Materials: A Case Study on More Circular Management of Expanded Polystyrene and Stonewool in Switzerland and Research Agenda. Resources 2021, 10, 104. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources10100104

AMA Style

Superti V, Forman TV, Houmani C. Recycling Thermal Insulation Materials: A Case Study on More Circular Management of Expanded Polystyrene and Stonewool in Switzerland and Research Agenda. Resources. 2021; 10(10):104. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources10100104

Chicago/Turabian Style

Superti, Valeria, Tim V. Forman, and Cynthia Houmani. 2021. "Recycling Thermal Insulation Materials: A Case Study on More Circular Management of Expanded Polystyrene and Stonewool in Switzerland and Research Agenda" Resources 10, no. 10: 104. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources10100104

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