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Special Issue "Achieving the Circular Economy: Exploring the Role of Local Governments, Business and Civic Society in an Urban Context"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "C: Energy Economics and Policy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (18 July 2020) | Viewed by 17163

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Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Jenny Palm
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, 223 50 Lund, Sweden
Interests: urban governance and urban planning processes; local and regional policy processes; socio-technical systems; energy systems; end-users and energy consumption; smart grid; prosumers; energy communities
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Nancy Bocken
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Interests: sustainable business management and practice; sustainable business models; business experiments for sustainability; sustainable innovation; circular economy; corporate sufficiency strategies; sustainable consumption; scaling up sustainable business
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urbanisation and climate change are urging cities to find novel pathways leading to a sustainable future. The urban context may be viewed as a new experimentation space to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Urban symbiosis and circular economy are emerging concepts attracting more and more attention within the urban context. Moreover, new business models are emerging around sharing and peer-to-peer practices, which are challenging existing roles of actors in society. These developments have an important impact on the flows of resources and the use of the city infrastructure, and each research area has taken a different perspective on the analysis of such impacts. In this Special Issue, we want to explore what a “circular city” would constitute and how and why cities engage in circularity. We invite papers discussing, for example, drivers, barriers, and challenges of implementing circularity priniciples. We also invite papers providing new empirical data on sustainability and the circular economy in cities and the roles that business and civic society can play in urban transitions for sustainability, as well as investigations of the interplay between these actors in achieving a circular economy. For example, how do interactions between business models in the urban economy affect the ecological and social sustainability of provision for human needs, and what tools can be used to assess this? What would adequate transition pathways in an urban context look like and what tools and methods can support key decision makers?

Prof. Jenny Palm
Prof. Dr. Nancy Bocken
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • circular economy
  • urban symbiosis
  • circular city
  • sustainable urban governance, including circularity and symbiosis
  • public private partnership in urban symbiosis
  • urbanisation and climate change
  • flows of resources
  • eco-system innovation and transformation
  • businesses in urban transition
  • sustainable business model innovation
  • circular business models
  • sharing business models
  • collaborative planning

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Achieving the Circular Economy: Exploring the Role of Local Governments, Business and Citizens in an Urban Context
Energies 2021, 14(4), 875; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14040875 - 08 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 823
Abstract
The urban context is an experimentation space to accelerate the transition to a circular economy [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Circular Economy in Poland: Profitability Analysis for Two Methods of Waste Processing in Small Municipalities
Energies 2020, 13(19), 5166; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13195166 - 04 Oct 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1284
Abstract
The problem of diminishing resources on our plant is now getting due attention from the governments as well as scientists around the world. The transition from a linear economy to a circular economy (CE) is now among the top priorities. This article discusses [...] Read more.
The problem of diminishing resources on our plant is now getting due attention from the governments as well as scientists around the world. The transition from a linear economy to a circular economy (CE) is now among the top priorities. This article discusses the implementation of the circular economy paradigm in Poland through the analysis of the existing and planned mechanisms, and actions taken by the Polish government which can be replicated by other young European countries. Further, the article discusses the direction of change and projected measures planned by the Polish government to improve the quality of municipal solid waste management. In this context, profitability analysis is carried out for two methods of waste processing (incineration and torrefaction) intended for small municipalities and settlements in which district heating and trading of generated electricity are not feasible. The results of the analysis shows that torrefaction is clearly a more desirable waste processing option as a step towards the implementation of CE for civic society in the urban context, as well as profitability, in comparison to incineration. The analysis accounts for several scenarios before the lockdown caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic and after it was lifted. Full article
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Article
Exploring Citizens’ Actions in Mitigating Climate Change and Moving toward Urban Circular Economy. A Multilevel Approach
Energies 2020, 13(18), 4752; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13184752 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1741
Abstract
Urbanization and climate change are requiring cities to find novel pathways to a sustainable future, and therefore the urban context may accelerate the conversion to a circular economy. In this sense, climate change is a considerable threat to the environment, affecting both human [...] Read more.
Urbanization and climate change are requiring cities to find novel pathways to a sustainable future, and therefore the urban context may accelerate the conversion to a circular economy. In this sense, climate change is a considerable threat to the environment, affecting both human and natural systems, and in this context individuals have a very important role. Therefore, the paper aims to investigate, on the one hand, what determines people to undertake specific actions in fighting climate change and, on the other hand, what determines some people to engage in adopting multiple actions exhibiting extra mitigation behaviour compared to others, paving the way to an urban circular economy. In order to do that, multilevel logistic regression analysis using hierarchical data (individuals grouped in counties), reflecting group variability and group-level characteristics effects on outcomes at individual level has been applied. Special attention was given to modernisation thesis validation, stipulating that citizens from more developed and modernized countries are expected to manifest a higher level of extra mitigation compared to inhabitants of less-modernized nations. The empirical results revealed the positive association of pro-environmental factors, socio-demographic and economic factors with both specific and extra mitigation behaviour in fighting climate change. An important finding of the empirical research highlighted the validation of the modernisation thesis, even if partially, and the reinforcement of the modernisation thesis impact on the extra mitigation behaviour determined by the urban area segmentation. The extra commitment behaviour reflected by citizens’ multiple actions in fighting climate change ensures progress to a circular economy through its contribution to waste reduction, eco-shopping increase, on eco-friendly transportation increase or domestic energy reduction. We believe that a shift in citizens’ attitude towards climate change is needed, taking into account that a lot must be done” to effectively respond to climate change, paving the way for the circular economy. Full article
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Article
A Hybrid Methodology to Study Stakeholder Cooperation in Circular Economy Waste Management of Cities
Energies 2020, 13(7), 1845; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13071845 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2030
Abstract
Successful transitioning to a circular economy city requires a holistic and inclusive approach that involves bringing together diverse actors and disciplines who may not have shared aims and objectives. It is desirable that stakeholders work together to create jointly-held perceptions of value, and [...] Read more.
Successful transitioning to a circular economy city requires a holistic and inclusive approach that involves bringing together diverse actors and disciplines who may not have shared aims and objectives. It is desirable that stakeholders work together to create jointly-held perceptions of value, and yet cooperation in such an environment is likely to prove difficult in practice. The contribution of this paper is to show how collaboration can be engendered, or discord made transparent, in resource decision-making using a hybrid Game Theory approach that combines its inherent strengths with those of scenario analysis and multi-criteria decision analysis. Such a methodology consists of six steps: (1) define stakeholders and objectives; (2) construct future scenarios for Municipal Solid Waste Management; (3) survey stakeholders to rank the evaluation indicators; (4) determine the weights for the scenarios criteria; (5) reveal the preference order of the scenarios; and (6) analyse the preferences to reveal the cooperation and competitive opportunities. To demonstrate the workability of the method, a case study is presented: The Tyseley Energy Park, a major Energy-from-Waste facility that treats over two-thirds of the Municipal Solid Waste of Birmingham in the UK. The first phase of its decision-making involved working with the five most influential actors, resulting in recommendations on how to reach the most preferred and jointly chosen sustainable scenario for the site. The paper suggests a supporting decision-making tool so that cooperation is embedded in circular economy adoption and decisions are made optimally (as a collective) and are acceptable to all the stakeholders, although limited by bounded rationality. Full article
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Article
Infrastructuring the Circular Economy
Energies 2020, 13(7), 1805; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13071805 - 08 Apr 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3911
Abstract
The circular economy (CE), and its focus on the cycling and regeneration of resources, necessitates both a reconfiguration of existing infrastructures and the creation of new infrastructures to facilitate these flows. In urban settings, CE is being realized at multiple levels, from within [...] Read more.
The circular economy (CE), and its focus on the cycling and regeneration of resources, necessitates both a reconfiguration of existing infrastructures and the creation of new infrastructures to facilitate these flows. In urban settings, CE is being realized at multiple levels, from within individual organizations to across peri-urban landscapes. While most attention in CE research and practice focuses on organizations, the scale and impact of many such efforts are limited because they fail to account for the diversity of resources, needs, and power structures across cities, consequently missing opportunities for adopting a more effective and inclusive CE. Reconfiguring hard infrastructures is necessary for material resource cycling, but intervening in soft infrastructures is also needed to enable more inclusive decision-making processes to activate these flows. Utilizing participatory action research methods at the intersection of industrial ecology and design, we developed a new framework and a model for considering and allocating the variety of resources that organizations utilize when creating value for themselves, society, and the planet. We use design prototyping methods to synthesize distributed knowledge and co-create hard and soft infrastructures in a multi-level case study focused on urban food producers and farmers markets from the City of Chicago. We discuss generalized lessons for “infrastructuring” the circular economy to bridge niche-level successes with larger system-level changes in cities. Full article
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Article
Factorial Decomposition of the Energy Footprint of the Shaoxing Textile Industry
Energies 2020, 13(7), 1683; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13071683 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1015
Abstract
To present great environmental pressure from energy consumption during textile production, this paper calculates the energy footprint (EFP) of Shaoxing’s textile industry, from 2005 to 2018. Moreover, this study analyzes the relationship between Shaoxing’s textile industry energy consumption and economic development by using [...] Read more.
To present great environmental pressure from energy consumption during textile production, this paper calculates the energy footprint (EFP) of Shaoxing’s textile industry, from 2005 to 2018. Moreover, this study analyzes the relationship between Shaoxing’s textile industry energy consumption and economic development by using decoupling theory. Furthermore, the Logarithmic Mean Divisia Index decomposition method was employed to investigate the main factors that affect the EFP of Shaoxing’s textile industry. Research results show the following: (1) The growth rate of the total output value of Shaoxing’s textile industry was greater than the growth rate of the EFP, from 2005 to 2007. Thus, the decoupling state showed a weak decoupling, and EFP intensity decreased. (2) The EFP and economic growth were mainly based on the strong decoupling of Shaoxing’s textile industry from 2008 to 2015 (except for 2011), and EFP intensity declined further. (3) Economic recession in the textile industry was severe in Shaoxing, from 2016 to 2018, and the EFP also showed a downward trend. The state of decoupling appeared as a recessive decoupling (2016) and a weak negative decoupling (2017 and 2018), and EFP intensity first increased and then decreased. (4) The total effect of the factors affecting the EFP of the textile industry in Shaoxing demonstrated a pulling trend, and industrial scale played a significant role in driving the EFP. The energy consumption intensity effect contributed the largest restraint. This paper fills in the gaps in the environmental regulation means and methods of pillar industrial clusters in specific regions. Full article
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Article
The Role of Cities in the Sharing Economy: Exploring Modes of Governance in Urban Sharing Practices
Energies 2019, 12(24), 4737; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12244737 - 12 Dec 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2175
Abstract
Cities have for a long time been key actors in sustainable urban development, and in recent times, also for the sharing economy, as they provide a fertile breeding ground for various sharing initiatives. While some of these initiatives build on existing practices and [...] Read more.
Cities have for a long time been key actors in sustainable urban development, and in recent times, also for the sharing economy, as they provide a fertile breeding ground for various sharing initiatives. While some of these initiatives build on existing practices and infrastructures such as public libraries and repair workshops, others require the involvement of private companies, as in the case of car sharing. The sharing economy might therefore require a significant reinterpretation of the role of local governments, businesses and citizens, which in turn might imply a complex re-organisation of governing. This article will explore what potential roles cities might have in governing the sharing economy. Four Swedish cities serve as case studies for this purpose: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Umeå. City data was collected primarily through qualitative means of investigation, including workshops, interviews and desk research. In Malmö, additional participatory observations were conducted on the testbed Sege Park. Results were analysed with a framework developed for understanding the various governing roles for cities in the sharing economy. Three dominant modes of governing were identified and discussed: governing by provision and authority; governing by partnership and enabling; and governing through volunteering. The four cities made use of all three governing modes, although with a primary focus on governing by authority and governing through partnership. When characterised by governing through volunteering, projects were always initiated by the city, but then run formally by an NGO. While all governing modes may have a role and a purpose in the sharing economy, it is still important that cities reflect upon what are their actual implications. Risks include a collaborative governing mode out-competing some businesses, for example, and a self-governing mode reducing the action space of the volunteer sector. Full article
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Article
Circular Economy as a Glocal Business Activity: Mobile Phone Repair in the Netherlands, Poland and China
Energies 2019, 12(3), 498; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12030498 - 05 Feb 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3499
Abstract
Repair of mobile phones fits with the vision of a circular economy in an urban context and with the Sustainable Development Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities. Drawing on the literature about firm level competitiveness and closed-loop design through repair, remanufacturing or recycling, [...] Read more.
Repair of mobile phones fits with the vision of a circular economy in an urban context and with the Sustainable Development Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities. Drawing on the literature about firm level competitiveness and closed-loop design through repair, remanufacturing or recycling, we analyze the business ecosystem of independent mobile phone repair shops in the Netherlands, Poland and China as a glocal business activity. The analysis is based on primary data collection through a questionnaire to independent repair shops in the Netherlands (n = 130), Poland (n = 443) and China (n = 175) with response rates of 13%, 12%, 40%, respectively; and 17 interviews in the Netherlands, 40 in Poland, and 70 in China. Findings indicate that to maintain a strong position in the local market and to sustain the trust of customers, independent mobile phone repair shops offer a range of customized services based on direct contact with customers. In China, the increasing prices of spare parts and falling prices of mobile phones constitute the most important challenges, whereas in the Netherlands and Poland, the most important challenges are the competitive pressures from informal repair activities, and new repair shops. Our research also revealed that repairability strongly depends on the global manufacturers’ circularity choices. Full article
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