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Circular Economy Strategies Applied to Vehicles

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Materials".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2024 | Viewed by 1170

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Centro Universitario de la Defensa, Universidad de Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Interests: circular economy applied to vehicles
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will showcase impactful papers focused on applying circular economy strategies along the vehicle life cycle, from manufacturing to recycling.

Over the last few decades, the demand for natural resources has increased exponentially. As a result, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources is a major concern. Simply looking at the expansion of the list of critical materials published by the European Commission is enough to understand that urgent action is needed.

Vehicle manufacturing is one of the sectors that demands a large quantity and variety of materials. A conventional car is made of more than 50 different types of metals and more than 23 different types of plastics, most of which are crucial in their design but also critical from a sustainability perspective.

Moreover, the replacement of current cars for the new generation of vehicles, which are cleaner, safer, and connected, will increase the demand of critical materials in the manufacturing of some components, e.g., batteries, electronics, microchips, sensors, permanent magnets and touch screens.

As a result, the availability of raw materials is a matter of concern for the automobile industry; therefore, new sustainable and circular approaches must be urgently applied.

This Special Issue investigates how vehicles can become more sustainable regarding raw materials and how scarce resources can be recovered.

We welcome all contributions tackling this broad area of research. Topics of interest include, among others, the following:

  • ELV recycling improvements;
  • Metallurgical processes to recover critical raw materials;
  • Innovative processes for plastic recycling;
  • Eco-design approaches;
  • Next generation of batteries;
  • Reusability and retrofitting alternatives;
  • Opportunities that new technologies offer to improve vehicle recycling;
  • LCA applied to vehicle design, manufacturing or recycling processes;
  • Disassemblability, recyclability and eco-design strategies;
  • Circular economy strategies applied to automobile manufacturing sector;
  • Product end-of-life management;
  • Waste management practices;
  • The economic assessment of circular manufacturing practices;
  • The environmental assessment of circular manufacturing practices;
  • The social assessment of circular manufacturing practices.

I look forward to receiving your contributions to this Special Issue.

Dr. Abel Ortego-Bielsa
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at 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. Sustainability 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 2400 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.


  • eco-design
  • disassemblability
  • recyclability, resource efficiency
  • circular economy
  • sustainability
  • critical raw materials
  • vehicle manufacturing

Published Papers (1 paper)

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17 pages, 2744 KiB  
Disassemblability Assessment of Car Parts: Lessons Learned from an Ecodesign Perspective
by Abel Ortego, Marta Iglesias-Émbil, Alicia Valero, Miquel Gimeno-Fabra, Carlos Monné and Francisco Moreno
Sustainability 2024, 16(6), 2311; - 11 Mar 2024
Viewed by 965
A conventional vehicle requires more than 50 different metals in its manufacturing, most of which are critical. Given this circumstance, enhancing sustainability from a raw materials perspective requires improvements in the disassemblability of car parts. This enhancement aims to yield metal-rich fractions, enabling [...] Read more.
A conventional vehicle requires more than 50 different metals in its manufacturing, most of which are critical. Given this circumstance, enhancing sustainability from a raw materials perspective requires improvements in the disassemblability of car parts. This enhancement aims to yield metal-rich fractions, enabling the application of effective recycling processes for the recovery of critical metals. This helps avoid the downcycling that occurs in conventional shredding processes. The present study was undertaken to analyze the challenges associated with disassembling components of significant value due to their metal content. The methodology comprises two distinct main stages: an identification of critical car parts and an assessment of disassemblability. The selection of car parts was determined by the criticality of each one through the thermodynamic rarity indicator. Disassemblability was studied experimentally, encompassing three different levels. This classification defines the stages from extracting parts from the vehicle and obtaining recycling fractions in their purest form: ferrous metals, aluminum, non-ferrous metals excluding aluminum, and plastics. This methodology was implemented on two vehicles manufactured by SEAT: SEAT Leon models II and III. As a result, not only was disassemblability information about these car parts collected, but several ecodesign recommendations were also identified as valuable guidance for future designs, specifically aimed at enhancing metals’ recyclability. In conclusion, it must be acknowledged that contemporary vehicle design often prioritizes cost-effective manufacturing processes. However, this approach may compromise the disassemblability and recyclability of the product. The ongoing transition to electric vehicles necessitates a re-evaluation of design principles, particularly from the perspective of the circular economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy Strategies Applied to Vehicles)
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