Special Issue "Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Elena Cristina Rada
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Civil Environmental and Mechanical Engineering Department - DICAM, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, 38123 Trento, Italy
Interests: environmental pollution; circular economy; waste and wastewater management; human health; renewable energy; interdisciplinary approaches for environmental management; air quality; environmental sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Lucian-Ionel Cioca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering and Management, Faculty of Engineering, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Victoriei 10, 550024 Sibiu, Romania
Interests: management; human resources management; occupational health and safety management; production systems engineering; ergonomics; circular economy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Circular Economy and the Sustainable Strategies are the most significant issues in all projects and proposals in many sectors. The closing the loop approach is constantly gaining importance and is beginning to be asked at all the levels. The 9R (Responsibility, React, Reduce, Reuse, Re-design, Repair, Recover, Recycle and Rot) development strategy will help to retain materials and products in the economy for as long as possible, saving primary reserves.

The focus of this Special Issue on “Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies” aims to collect up-to-date research articles that explore, examine and make proposals for a better world, taking into account the environment, human health, as well as the economic benefits. This Special Issue will incorporate articles that examine current policies, qualitative and quantitative measurements in the materials treatment sector and use/reuse, techno-economical aspects, multi-criteria systems for consuming, and closing the loop strategies. Papers on innovative developments, the environment, human health and the economy, reviews and case studies are also welcome.

The Guest Editors will select high quality research papers to proceed with blind peer reviews. Reviewers will be selected among researchers active in the field, whose works are present in international databases.

Within the framework described above, this Special Issue invites authors to contribute in the following fields (keywords):

  • Circular Economy Indicators;
  • Circular Economy Strategies;
  • Trash to Treasure;
  • Life-Cycle-Assessment;
  • Business Model for Circular Economy and Sustainability;
  • Circular, Green and Bio-Economy;
  • Consuming Strategies and Economic Optimization;
  • Health, Safety, Environment and Management;
  • Closing the Loop Strategies.

Dr. Elena Cristina Rada
Prof. Dr. Lucian-Ionel Cioca
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 papers will be 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 1900 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.

Published Papers (35 papers)

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Article
IFMIF-DONES as Paradigm of Institutional Funding in the Way towards Sustainable Energy
by , , and
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13093; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313093 (registering DOI) - 26 Nov 2021
Viewed by 138
Abstract
Although actions promoting sustainable energy production and consumption have been widely approached in the literature, the management of the big scientific projects devoted to these actions have not been considered as a matter of study from the perspective of sustainable development, but almost [...] Read more.
Although actions promoting sustainable energy production and consumption have been widely approached in the literature, the management of the big scientific projects devoted to these actions have not been considered as a matter of study from the perspective of sustainable development, but almost exclusively from the scientific or technical ones. Experiences all over the world are increasingly demonstrating that the impact of the project phase is more critical than expected. In this sense, the joint international research on clean and more efficient nuclear power, especially fusion, is currently focused on two large projects: ITER and IFMIF-DONES. Although ITER is step by step advancing, IFMIF-DONES still has a long way before it is actually implemented and its main target (the evaluation of the materials to build the future nuclear fusion reactors) is achieved. In this work, the different steps focused on IFMIF-DONES funding and management planning up to date are analysed and, departing from them, some key points on the future development of the project are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
General Concept of Business Process Measures in the Circular Economy
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12675; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212675 - 16 Nov 2021
Viewed by 319
Abstract
The presented research has been embedded in a dynamically developing circular economy. Nowadays, it is more and more often referred to as an alternative economy model to the linear economy model. The principal aim of the research is to develop a general concept [...] Read more.
The presented research has been embedded in a dynamically developing circular economy. Nowadays, it is more and more often referred to as an alternative economy model to the linear economy model. The principal aim of the research is to develop a general concept of business process measures. It was built on five key principles. They are (1) the principle of Institutional Determinants of Business Processes, (2) the principle of rational change of state, (3) the principle of incorrect definition of determinants, (4) the principle of rational determinants and (5) the principle of the intensity of the impact of determinants. The research mainly used the extensive literature on the subject, which was primarily aimed at showing the context of the circular economy. The concept itself mainly uses the methods and principles of process management. The rules of the Petri nets were used to define the key principles of the presented concept. Ultimately, it turned out that the proposed approach to business measurements can be helpful in managing environmental, social and governance factors also in small- and medium-sized enterprises. The most important result of the research can be presented in a specific theorem. The effective achievement of business process goals, in a circular economy, may depend on the adaptation and use of a wide stream of institutional determinants that make up a holistic environment for socio-economic phenomena taking place in the company. This may be possible thanks to the use of the general concept of business process metrics, which allows identifying and eliminating negative internal and external effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
Article
Alternatives for Circular Bioeconomy in Organic Farming under Excessive Nutrients (Goat manure and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi): A Case Study in Indonesia
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12333; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212333 - 09 Nov 2021
Viewed by 363
Abstract
A case study in Indonesia of circular bioeconomy implementation was investigated by managing livestock wastes, especially goat manure (GM), which an excess of its availability may be adverse to the environment. The efficacy of this scenario to control pollution or to increase productivity [...] Read more.
A case study in Indonesia of circular bioeconomy implementation was investigated by managing livestock wastes, especially goat manure (GM), which an excess of its availability may be adverse to the environment. The efficacy of this scenario to control pollution or to increase productivity still needs to be proven. Hence, this research aimed to study the possibility of circular bioeconomy implementation using biotic and abiotic resources in Indonesia under excessive nutrients (GM and mycorrhizal) on P. angulata production. Outdoor factorial container experiment was carried out using a randomized complete block design in Central Java, Indonesia. Treatments included four levels of GM (0, 10, 20, 30 g plant−1) and four levels of mycorrhizal (0, 10, 20, 30 g plant−1) applied in the soil with six replications. This case study revealed that the use of mycorrhizal inoculant and GM indicated no significant difference to most of P. angulata’s growth and yield parameters. The implementation of circular bioeconomy through integrated farming of P. angulata was not an instant solution for economic and environmental optimization, but can be considered as a way to tackle environmental problem due to the excessive livestock wastes. The environmental sustainability can be achieved step by step, without hindering farmers’ income. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Understanding Public Environmental Awareness and Attitudes toward Circular Economy Transition in Saudi Arabia
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10157; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810157 - 10 Sep 2021
Viewed by 731
Abstract
Circular economy (CE) has been globally acknowledged as a national sustainable development (SD) strategy to confront resource shortages and environmental contamination challenges. Although public behaviors and lifestyles play an essential role in achieving sustainability, in developing countries, few studies explored the role of [...] Read more.
Circular economy (CE) has been globally acknowledged as a national sustainable development (SD) strategy to confront resource shortages and environmental contamination challenges. Although public behaviors and lifestyles play an essential role in achieving sustainability, in developing countries, few studies explored the role of public awareness, attitudes, and lifestyles on CE transition. Thus, it is necessary to elicit public opinion to understand their awareness and attitude regarding CE strategy to determine obstacles to CE implementation and approaches of overcoming them. This study thus focuses on understanding public awareness and attitudes to CE transition in Saudi Arabia. Data were collected through a questionnaire survey distributed to 402 residents of the Dammam Metropolitan Area. The results indicated that the respondents had little understanding of the CE concept due to limited awareness of the topic. However, they held an optimistic attitude towards trash separation and classified their trash as “can be sold”, “reused”, and “exchanged for a new one”. Furthermore, the respondents’ level of awareness regarding the CE transition is positively related to their level of education. In contrast, the inclination towards resource conservation and pro-environmental behavior positively correlates to the age demographic. This paper thus contributes to the empirical literature on CE transition by exploring the public awareness and attitudes towards its implementation in Saudi Arabia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
A Circularity Indicator Tool for Measuring the Ecological Embeddedness of Manufacturing
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8773; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168773 - 05 Aug 2021
Viewed by 794
Abstract
Circularity in manufacturing is critical to reducing raw material usage and waste. Ecological embeddedness examines circular relationships intended to benefit both economic actors and the natural environment. By understanding circular relationships in the value chain, manufacturers can formulate strategies that are eco-effective. This [...] Read more.
Circularity in manufacturing is critical to reducing raw material usage and waste. Ecological embeddedness examines circular relationships intended to benefit both economic actors and the natural environment. By understanding circular relationships in the value chain, manufacturers can formulate strategies that are eco-effective. This work develops and validates an original circularity tool to measure the ecological embeddedness of manufacturers using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. The tool is tested on process manufacturers selling products in the United Kingdom. The three main results are that the tool is useful and comprehensive (87% of users), enables simple comparisons with competitors, and identifies weaknesses in strategies related to the five dimensions connecting manufacturers, consumers, and the environment: understanding, realising, utilising, negotiating, and reclaiming. Manufacturers may use the tool to improve their ecological embeddedness, and sector-based circularity levels may be established for policy development. The novelty of the tool is in the use of ecological relationships to support achievement of a circular economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
A Methodological Approach to Designing Circular Economy Indicators for Agriculture: An Application to the Egg Sector
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8656; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158656 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 726
Abstract
Analysing production systems from a circular economy (CE) perspective helps to pinpoint interventions to mitigate the environmental footprint by improving resource use efficiency, waste recovery, and prolonged product usage, recycling and reuse. Few studies exist on the measurement of CE at the micro-level. [...] Read more.
Analysing production systems from a circular economy (CE) perspective helps to pinpoint interventions to mitigate the environmental footprint by improving resource use efficiency, waste recovery, and prolonged product usage, recycling and reuse. Few studies exist on the measurement of CE at the micro-level. Additionally, available metrics/indicators address only certain aspects of the CE’s socio-economic metabolism, ignoring important components of the CE concept. Other frameworks propose a single indicator that aggregates and summarizes several facets of CE. This study develops a holistic approach for designing indicators with a structured methodology and an analytical framework to assess CE at the micro (unit of production) level in agriculture. The proposed approach is based on the ECOGRAI method for indicator development, and on validation of the methods with experts and final users via an application to egg production in Canada. Twenty-five performance indicators (PI) were generated for 11 decision variables that were selected as important for the sector. This resulted in a practical tool that proposes fourteen actions to improve the economic circularity (EC) of egg farms. Our methodological approach could be replicated to assess CE performance in other agricultural sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Experimental Investigation of a Pilot-Scale Concerning Ex-Situ Bioremediation of Petroleum Hydrocarbons Contaminated Soils
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8165; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158165 - 21 Jul 2021
Viewed by 441
Abstract
The soil samples were taken from the site of a former oil products depot from an industrial area (Romania). The soil samples taken were analyzed from a physical and chemical point of view: texture, pH, soil micronutrient content, metals concentration and petroleum hydrocarbon [...] Read more.
The soil samples were taken from the site of a former oil products depot from an industrial area (Romania). The soil samples taken were analyzed from a physical and chemical point of view: texture, pH, soil micronutrient content, metals concentration and petroleum hydrocarbon concentration (PHCs). The soil contaminated with total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH (4280 mg kg−1) was disposed in the form of a pile (L × W × H: 3000 × 1400 × 500 mm). Experiments on a pilot-scale were conducted over 12 weeks at constant pH (7.5–8), temperature (22–32 °C), nutrient contents C/N/P ratio 100/10/1, soil aeration time (8 h/day) and moisture (30%). Samples were taken every two weeks for the monitoring of the TPH and the microorganisms content. During the experiment, microorganisms were added (Pseudomonas and Bacillus) every two weeks. Results of the analyses regarding the concentration of PHCs were revealed a linear decrease of the concentration of PHCs after only two weeks of treatment. This decrease in concentration was also achieved in the following weeks. Following the analysis performed on the model at the pilot scale regarding the depollution process, it can be concluded that a soil contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons can be efficiently depolluted by performing an aeration of 8 h/day, adding microorganisms Pseudomonas and Bacillus to ensure the conditions for increasing in the total number of germs (colony forming units–CFU) from 151 × 105 to 213 × 107 CFU g−1 soil, after 12 weeks of soil treatment—the depollution efficiency achieved is 83%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Conceptualizing Core Aspects on Circular Economy in Cities
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7549; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147549 - 06 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 896
Abstract
Currently, there are many different interpretations in the literature of what a circular economy is and how it functions. As cities are still facing challenges to become fully sustainable, the need for a comprehensive analysis of how the circular economy can be implemented [...] Read more.
Currently, there are many different interpretations in the literature of what a circular economy is and how it functions. As cities are still facing challenges to become fully sustainable, the need for a comprehensive analysis of how the circular economy can be implemented in urban areas is increasing. This article aims at outlining circular cities by their key characteristics and to further explore and provide a framework for fostering circularity at the city level. In order to achieve this goal, we performed a systematic review and analyzed key papers published in the field of circular economy to determine how circular economy practices form circular cities. We discovered that cities play a focal role in facilitating the transition towards circularity through the closing of the loops, recirculation, technical innovation, policy elaboration and citizens’ support. However, city policymakers are still uncertain about how a circular city looks like and what its purpose is, as views are ranging from a strategic ambition to a niche concept of a smart city. Such uncertainty brings challenges, especially in the transition phase that many cities are in at the moment. This further implies that circular economy applied at the urban level still needs effort and innovation to successfully pass the transition phase from the linear economy. Therefore, lastly, we developed a framework model that can be adapted in other cities to facilitate their transition to circular cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Evaluation of the Impact of Separative Collection and Recycling of Municipal Solid Waste on Performance: An Empirical Application for Chile
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2022; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042022 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1092
Abstract
The collection of municipal solid waste (MSW) is a public service with notable effects on the environment and public health. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of selective collection and recycling of MSW on the performance of municipalities in [...] Read more.
The collection of municipal solid waste (MSW) is a public service with notable effects on the environment and public health. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of selective collection and recycling of MSW on the performance of municipalities in providing MSW services. By employing the data envelopment analysis method, the efficiency and eco-efficiency scores for a sample of 298 municipalities in Chile were analyzed and compared. The efficiency estimation focused on the economic performance of the municipalities in the provision of MSW services, whereas the eco-efficiency assessment also integrated the environmental performance. The results indicated that the selective collection and recycling of MSW had a significant impact on the performance of the municipalities in providing these services. The percentages of efficient and eco-efficient municipalities were very low (4.70% and 4.36%, respectively), thus demonstrating the large room for performance improvement by Chilean municipalities in the management of MSW. The efficient and eco-efficient municipalities were heterogeneously distributed throughout the country, revealing the lack of collaboration between municipalities at the regional level. Finally, exogenous variables to the management of MSW carried out by the municipalities, including the population served, population density, tourism and waste generated per capita, all had an impact on the efficiency and eco-efficiency scores. The results and conclusions of this study are of great relevance for policy makers at the regional and local levels to improve the management of MSW in the context of a circular economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Adapting a Circular Economy in Regional Strategies of the European Union
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1518; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031518 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1005
Abstract
The transition towards a sustainable circular economy (CE) model is seen as a solution to keep the consumption of the earth’s resources within planetary boundaries. In the regional context, the CE is promoted through various policy actions, one being the smart specialisation concept. [...] Read more.
The transition towards a sustainable circular economy (CE) model is seen as a solution to keep the consumption of the earth’s resources within planetary boundaries. In the regional context, the CE is promoted through various policy actions, one being the smart specialisation concept. This paper provides a novel approach to examining the spatial adaption of a CE through a conceptual framework of research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (S3) in Europe. This interdisciplinary research presents a multi-country comparison of S3 implementation in Europe in 12 regions that have defined the CE as a priority area. The data consist of interviews with representatives of organisations responsible for the regional S3 process. The findings indicate that a political demand exists for proceeding further with the construction of transformative activities involving the CE, but the models and stages of implementation vary. In addition, most regions still struggle with building specific monitoring and evaluation measures and mechanisms for the CE. Despite these challenges, promoting the CE as a strategic priority through the S3 process has, at least in some regions, helped define the CE targets and actions by focusing on existing regional assets and future potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
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 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 925
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Combining Life Cycle Assessment and Circularity Assessment to Analyze Environmental Impacts of the Medical Remanufacturing of Electrophysiology Catheters
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 898; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020898 - 17 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2590
Abstract
Sustaining value after the end-of-life to improve products’ circularity and sustainability has attracted an increasing number of industrial actors, policymakers, and researchers. Medical products are considered to have great remanufacturing potential because they are often designated as single-use products and consist of various [...] Read more.
Sustaining value after the end-of-life to improve products’ circularity and sustainability has attracted an increasing number of industrial actors, policymakers, and researchers. Medical products are considered to have great remanufacturing potential because they are often designated as single-use products and consist of various complex materials that cannot be reused and are not significant in municipal recycling infrastructure. The remanufacturing of electrophysiology catheters is a well-established process guaranteeing equivalent quality compared to virgin-produced catheters. In order to measure if using a remanufactured product is environmentally beneficial compared to using a virgin product, life cycle assessment (LCA) is often used. However, focusing on one life cycle to inform on the environmental-beneficial use fails to guide policymakers from a system perspective. This study analyzes the environmental consequences of electrophysiology catheters considering two modeling perspectives, the implementation of LCA, including a cut-off approach and combining LCA and a circularity indicator measuring multiple life cycles. Investigating the LCA results of using a remanufactured as an alternative to a newly-manufactured catheter shows that the global warming impact is reduced by 50.4% and the abiotic resource use by 28.8%. The findings from the system perspective suggest that the environmental savings increase with increasing collection rates of catheters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Evaluating Sustainable Development by Composite Index: Evidence from French Departments
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 761; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020761 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 767
Abstract
Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, sustainability has been a key priority for European governments. While previous studies have investigated the associations between indicators of sustainable development, few have directly considered a multidimensional approach to assess and [...] Read more.
Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, sustainability has been a key priority for European governments. While previous studies have investigated the associations between indicators of sustainable development, few have directly considered a multidimensional approach to assess and compare the performance of regions in terms of sustainable development. As such, a comprehensive assessment of regional sustainable performance is thus still needed. In this paper, the concept of sustainability relies on the construction of six composite indices (environment and natural resources, energy transition, sustainable mobility, economic dynamism, social cohesion and solidarity, and governance and citizenship) with the aim to provide an evaluation framework for empirically comparing the performance of the 96 metropolitan French Departments. Each dimension is explored by spatial autocorrelation analysis and Hierarchical Ascending Classification (HAC) to classify French Departments providing five different regional profiles of sustainable development. The findings make it possible to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the departments in the implementation of sustainable development. This approach provides the bases for a systematic monitoring of sustainable development policies at the regional scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
The Key Strategies to Implement Circular Economy in Building Projects—A Case Study of Taiwan
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 754; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020754 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1115
Abstract
The building industry is blamed for consuming enormous natural resources and creating massive solid waste worldwide. In response to this, the concept of circular economy (CE) has gained much attention in the sector in recent years. Many pilot building projects that implemented CE [...] Read more.
The building industry is blamed for consuming enormous natural resources and creating massive solid waste worldwide. In response to this, the concept of circular economy (CE) has gained much attention in the sector in recent years. Many pilot building projects that implemented CE concepts started to appear around the world, including Taiwan. However, compared with the pilot projects in the Netherlands, which are regarded as the pioneer ones by international society, many CE-related practices are not implemented in pilot cases in Taiwan. To assist future project stakeholders to recognize what the key CE-related practices are and how they could be implemented in their building projects in Taiwan, this study has conducted a series of case studies of Dutch and Taiwanese pilot projects and semi-structured interviews with key project stakeholders of Taiwanese pilot projects. Thirty key CE-related practices are identified via case studies, along with their related 5R principles (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle) and project phases. Suggestion on CE-related practices, their 5R principles, project items, and phases to implement in building projects in Taiwan is also proposed while discussion on differences between two countries’ pilot projects is presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
How Circular Are the European Economies? A Taxonomic Analysis Based on the INEC (Index of National Economies’ Circularity)
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7613; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187613 - 15 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 961
Abstract
In this paper, the aggregate index of national economies’ circularity (INEC) was proposed and empirically verified. For this purpose, the taxonomic linear ordering method was used, which is a multi-criteria decision-making procedure. This method replaces the analysis of the phenomenon described by a [...] Read more.
In this paper, the aggregate index of national economies’ circularity (INEC) was proposed and empirically verified. For this purpose, the taxonomic linear ordering method was used, which is a multi-criteria decision-making procedure. This method replaces the analysis of the phenomenon described by a set of indicators with an analysis using one aggregate indicator: the so-called ‘synthetic metric’. Based on 14 circular economy indicators that are available in the Eurostat database, the circularity indexes were constructed for 24 EU countries (including the United Kingdom). This allowed the author, on the one hand, to create a ranking of the countries, and on the other, to assign them to four groups, which were characterized by a similar level of circularity. This paper attempts to answer the following questions: how circular are the European economies? What are the main challenges in achieving circularity in Europe? Taking into account the INEC range [0,1], it should be noted that the level of circularity in the analysed European countries is low (an average of 0.3021). Therefore, the paper indicates the areas requiring improvement in this respect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
MSW Management in Universities: Sharing Best Practices
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5084; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125084 - 22 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1438
Abstract
The optimization of municipal solid waste management requires the re-organization of niche sectors too. The sector of the university is not fully explored from the scientific point of view. The creation of networks among universities in order to face this issue allows an [...] Read more.
The optimization of municipal solid waste management requires the re-organization of niche sectors too. The sector of the university is not fully explored from the scientific point of view. The creation of networks among universities in order to face this issue allows an exchange of expertise also at an international level as demonstrated in this article, by three case studies: two Italian (University of Trento and University of Insubria) and one Russian (Ural Federal University) universities. This study highlights the pros and cons of each university in terms of waste management. Specifically, setting up communication campaigns, standard procedures, monitoring actions, pricing strategies that incentivize selective collection, and improving the collaboration within the university community are identified as crucial initiatives. The margins of improvement of the three universities analyzed are favored by the composition of the generated waste. The implementation of good practices can give economic advantages to the universities, besides improving their level of sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Transformation towards Circular Economy (CE) in Municipal Waste Management System: Model Solutions for Poland
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4561; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114561 - 03 Jun 2020
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 1864
Abstract
Municipal waste management has been an area of special interest for the European Commission (EC) for many years, especially in the transformation process towards a circular economy (CE), which is a priority of the European Union’s (EU’s) economic policy. This paper presents the [...] Read more.
Municipal waste management has been an area of special interest for the European Commission (EC) for many years, especially in the transformation process towards a circular economy (CE), which is a priority of the European Union’s (EU’s) economic policy. This paper presents the overview of the Polish waste management system (WMS) and the CE-related tasks indicated in the Polish CE Roadmap. Despite the fact that Poland is one of the countries that generates the least waste per capita (329 kg in 2018) in the EU (489 kg), it still has problems with adapting the levels of municipal waste recycling to European requirements (34.3% in 2018, EU average 47%), which result from the lack of sufficient infrastructure for waste management and the insufficiently developed public awareness and behaviors. The current paper presents an inventory of the recommended actions, which support transformation towards CE in municipal waste management. These actions have been grouped into six core principles of circularity, indicated in the ReSOLVE framework: Regenerate, Share, Optimize, Loop, Virtualize, and Exchange. In each of presented areas, recommended tasks and actions were identified that should be taken by governments and residents themselves, such as landfill remediation, use of selected municipal waste fractions for economic purposes, sharing products with co-users, waste recovery, remanufacturing products or components, virtual solutions in everyday life to reduce the amount of generated waste, or replacement of household appliances by items with a higher energy class. An implementation of specific actions indicated in the paper could positively influence transformation towards CE in Poland. Because the presented examples of actions are model solutions, they can also be used in other countries and regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Indicators to Measure Efficiency in Circular Economies
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4483; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114483 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 1725
Abstract
In this paper, a number of indicators are shown to measure economic efficiency in terms of circular economy (CE). The European Union affirms the need for a comprehensive model of indicators relating to CE in order to meet the needs of all participants [...] Read more.
In this paper, a number of indicators are shown to measure economic efficiency in terms of circular economy (CE). The European Union affirms the need for a comprehensive model of indicators relating to CE in order to meet the needs of all participants (individual companies and industry, society, and the nation), to be based on three perspectives: environmental impact, economic benefit, and resource scarcity. Therefore, the objective of this work is to define these indicators and establish models for measuring the efficiency of processes and products of CE (through Data Envelopment Analysis, (DEA)) in its different manifestations. The models will be useful for both organizations and external users in relation to CE in order to facilitate the search for indicators for all users. Following the bibliographic review of official reports and different high impact works, our results demonstrate the ability to obtain information concerning the main indicators of CE and how the efficiency of CE models has been measured through the most frequently used inputs and outputs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Biodegradation of Bioplastic Using Anaerobic Digestion at Retention Time as per Industrial Biogas Plant and International Norms
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4231; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104231 - 21 May 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1840
Abstract
Bioplastics are gaining interest as an alternative to fossil-based plastics. In addition, biodegradable bioplastics may yield biogas after their use, giving an additional benefit. However, the biodegradability time in international norms (35 days) far exceeds processing times in anaerobic digestion facilities (21 days). [...] Read more.
Bioplastics are gaining interest as an alternative to fossil-based plastics. In addition, biodegradable bioplastics may yield biogas after their use, giving an additional benefit. However, the biodegradability time in international norms (35 days) far exceeds processing times in anaerobic digestion facilities (21 days). As the bioplastic packaging does not indicate the actual biodegradability, it is important to understand the time required to biodegrade bioplastic if it ends up in the anaerobic digestion facility along with other organic waste. For this work, cellulose bioplastic film and polylactic acid (PLA) coffee capsules were digested anaerobically at 55 ℃ for 21 days and 35 days, which are the retention times for industrial digestors and as set by international norms, respectively. Different sizes of bioplastics were examined for this work. Bioplastic film produced more biogas than bioplastic coffee capsules. The biodegradability of bioplastic was calculated based on theoretical biogas production. With an increase in retention time, biogas production, as well as biodegradability of bioplastic, increased. The biodegradability was less than 50% at the end of 35 days for both bioplastics, suggesting that complete degradation was not achieved, and thus, the bioplastic would not be suitable for use in biogas digesters currently in use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
The Evaluation and Promotion Path of Green Innovation Performance in Chinese Pollution-Intensive Industry
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4198; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104198 - 20 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1009
Abstract
Innovation driven green development has become the key to realizing the transformation and upgrading of pollution-intensive industries and the improvement of economic quality and efficiency in the new era. Based on the identification of pollution-intensive industries, this study evaluated the green innovation performance [...] Read more.
Innovation driven green development has become the key to realizing the transformation and upgrading of pollution-intensive industries and the improvement of economic quality and efficiency in the new era. Based on the identification of pollution-intensive industries, this study evaluated the green innovation performance of Chinese pollution-intensive industry from 2014 to 2018 from two dimensions of transformation efficiency (static) and productivity (dynamic) using the SBM-Undesirable model and the Malmquist–Luenberger productivity index. The results found that: First, there is still a potential for 21.7% improvement in the transformation efficiency of green innovation in pollution-intensive industries, the productivity is increasing and presents a dynamic evolution characteristic of “Λ” shape and industry heterogeneity exists in both the transformation efficiency and productivity. Second, if energy conservation and pollution emissions reduction are not considered, the transformation efficiency of green innovation will be underestimated by 6.3 percentage points and the productivity overestimated by 1.3 percentage points. Finally, pollution-intensive industries can improve green innovation performance from three paths: Unilateral, stepping and jumping. Based on the research conclusions, to better promote the green transformation of Chinese pollution-intensive industries, we recommend increased investment in scientific research to promote the application and promotion of green technologies; strengthen the level of supervision and management to flexibly make use of environmental regulations; and change the concept of policy implementation to explore the diversity and complementarity of green innovation policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
OHS Disclosures Within Non-Financial Reports: The Romanian Case
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1963; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051963 - 04 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1145
Abstract
The article addresses the issue of disclosing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) issues by corporations in Romania, under the influence of recent changes in the legislative framework imposed by the adoption of the EU Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial reporting by large corporations exceeding [...] Read more.
The article addresses the issue of disclosing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) issues by corporations in Romania, under the influence of recent changes in the legislative framework imposed by the adoption of the EU Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial reporting by large corporations exceeding 500 employees. The goal of our study consist in determining the relevant factors that influence the level of the Romanian companies’ OHS disclosure. To this end, we have compiled a sample of 35 organizations that have elaborated and published non-financial reports during 2016–2017 and we have analysed the impact of some relevant determinants upon the reporting phenomenon. With the aim of providing a clear picture of the regional context of our study, we put together many pieces of information regarding the corporations that played the trend-setters role in Romania, by disclosing corporate social responsibility (CSR)/sustainability reports between 2003 and 2017, although this practice has been characterized by a voluntary and unsteady approach in many cases. The importance of outlining the regional context of the Romanian reporting companies is given by the urge to raise the local managers’ level of awareness towards sustainability issues and to use the recent legislative changes as opportunities to catch up with more advanced EU countries. The research methods used in order to identify the interdependencies established between the key factors involved in the disclosure practices included a mixed quantitative-qualitative approach, and referred to: content analysis of sustainability reports; descriptive analysis of the statistical variables which were taken into consideration; correlation analysis of numerical variables; and the ANOVA method for investigating the interdependencies between the categorical and numerical variables. Among the influencing factors that impact with a greater or lesser intensity the quality of OHS reporting performed by the local companies, the following were highlighted: the corporations’ market share, their field of activity, and the ownership structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Mapping Academic Literature on Governing Inclusive Green Growth in Africa: Geographical Biases and Topical Gaps
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1956; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051956 - 04 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2318
Abstract
A strong indigenous capacity for credible, salient and legitimate knowledge production is crucial to support African countries in developing their economies and societies inclusively and sustainably. In this article, we aim to quantify the current and historic capacity for African knowledge production to [...] Read more.
A strong indigenous capacity for credible, salient and legitimate knowledge production is crucial to support African countries in developing their economies and societies inclusively and sustainably. In this article, we aim to quantify the current and historic capacity for African knowledge production to support the green economy in Africa, and identify important topical gaps. With a focus on topics relating to Governing Inclusive Green Growth in Africa (GIGGA), our research mapped how much Africa-focused research is being produced, from where and which African countries have higher or lower supply; and the topical focus of the research, mapping it against the African GIGGA policy discourses visible in government strategies. To do this we undertook a systematic review using a two-stage process, mapping the literature for GIGGA. This resulted in 960 verified citations. Content analysis of core metadata and article abstracts enabled mapping of the research focus. The analysis revealed a significant role for South Africa as both the pre-eminent producer of GIGGA literature as well as the geographic focus of GIGGA research, with Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya representing emerging loci of credible, African-relevant knowledge production. Topically, there was a strong emphasis on development, policy and environment while topics important for growth that is inclusive in character were infrequent or absent. Overall the results reinforced the view that investment is needed in research on inclusive green growth, linked to capacity building for knowledge production systems in Africa. Furthermore, from a policy perspective, policy makers and academics need to actively explore best to collaborate to ensure that academic research informs government policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Integrating Circularity in the Sustainability Assessment of Asphalt Mixtures
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 594; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020594 - 13 Jan 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1374
Abstract
Rising concerns about the impacts that the road engineering industry is imposing to the environment have redirected national road authorities to firmly re-consider the sustainability implications of their operations. Lately, though, sustainability has established a forceful correlation with the Circular Economy and its [...] Read more.
Rising concerns about the impacts that the road engineering industry is imposing to the environment have redirected national road authorities to firmly re-consider the sustainability implications of their operations. Lately, though, sustainability has established a forceful correlation with the Circular Economy and its principles. The road engineering industry, therefore, is moving towards more circular approaches. However, this is occurring without the assessment of the potential impacts of such a transition. For this reason, in this study, a composite indicator, namely, Environmental Sustainability and Circularity indicator (ESCi), for investigating the potential effects that increased circularity could have at the environmental sustainability of asphalt mixtures is developed. It can be utilized as a decision-making support tool from stakeholders involved in both asphalt mixture production and road pavement management. In addition, in this study, four asphalt mixtures with different percentages of Reclaimed Asphalt (RA) were assessed in terms of their “cradle-to-gate” environmental impacts and circularity, by means of Life Cycle Assessment, and Material Circularity Index, respectively. Their fatigue and permanent deformation performances play a key role in the assessment and distinctive results obtained for the asphalt mixtures with increasing RA% and thus, significant environmental benefits and increased circularity are observed after specific RA% thresholds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Environmental Assessment of Electrochemical Energy Storage Device Manufacturing to Identify Drivers for Attaining Goals of Sustainable Materials 4.0
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 342; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010342 - 01 Jan 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1783
Abstract
Electricity from the combination of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines exhibits potential benefits towards the sustainable cities transition. Nevertheless, the highly fluctuating and intermittent character limits an extended applicability in the energy market. Particularly, batteries represent a challenging approach to overcome the existing [...] Read more.
Electricity from the combination of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines exhibits potential benefits towards the sustainable cities transition. Nevertheless, the highly fluctuating and intermittent character limits an extended applicability in the energy market. Particularly, batteries represent a challenging approach to overcome the existing constraints and to achieve sustainable urban energy development. On the basis of the market roll-out and level of technological maturity, five commercially available battery technologies are assessed in this work, namely, lead–acid, lithium manganese oxide, nickel–cadmium, nickel–metal hydride, and vanadium redox flow. When considering sustainable development, environmental assessments provide valuable information. In this vein, an environmental analysis of the technologies is conducted using a life cycle assessment methodology from a cradle-to-gate perspective. A comparison of the environmental burden of battery components identified vanadium redox flow battery as the lowest environmental damage battery. In terms of components, electrodes; the electrolyte; and the set of pumps, motors, racks, and bolts exhibited the greatest environmental impact related to manufacturing. In terms of materials, copper, steel, sulphuric acid, and vanadium were identified as the main contributors to the midpoint impact categories. The results have highlighted that challenging materials 4.0 are still needed in battery manufacturing to provide sustainable technology designs required to the future urban planning based on circular economy demands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
The Economic and Ecological Impacts of Dismantling End-of-Life Vehicles in Romania
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6446; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226446 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1148
Abstract
In a global market characterized by the trend of saving non-renewable resources, recycling has become one of the key factors that alleviates the rarity of resources and preserves existing ones. One of the largest industries that consumes natural resources is the automotive industry. [...] Read more.
In a global market characterized by the trend of saving non-renewable resources, recycling has become one of the key factors that alleviates the rarity of resources and preserves existing ones. One of the largest industries that consumes natural resources is the automotive industry. This includes not only resource consumption but also the environmental effects of each new unit produced in this industry. As a result, recycling end-of-life vehicles has become an increasingly obvious and widespread concern. This paper proposes a preliminary analysis of the dismantling/recycling activities in Romania compared to other economies (e.g., USA). It aims to determine the impact that dismantling end-of-life vehicles has, according to the legislation in the field, on the economy and the environment. In order to obtain a complete picture, it is obvious that further research is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Circular Economy for Food Policy: The Case of the RePoPP Project in The City of Turin (Italy)
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6078; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216078 - 01 Nov 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1650
Abstract
Circular economy for food (CE) and food policies (FP) are two emerging but already prominent research areas, particularly when talking about the cities of the future. This paper analyzes the dynamics between these two fields of research, starting from review articles and the [...] Read more.
Circular economy for food (CE) and food policies (FP) are two emerging but already prominent research areas, particularly when talking about the cities of the future. This paper analyzes the dynamics between these two fields of research, starting from review articles and the analysis of a case study, underlying the fundaments that FP and CE share. In particular, this paper focuses on using circular economy (CE) indicators and strategies to shape urban food policies (FP) to create a new business and political model towards sustainability. It introduces four converging perspectives, emerging from the literature, and analyzes how they have been integrated in the case study RePoPP (Re-design Project of Organic waste in Porta Palazzo market), a circular project born from the FP of the City of Turin (Italy). RePoPP is indeed a multi-actor project of urban circular food policies against food waste, which demonstrates how a circular approach can be the turning point in the creation of new food policies. This article wants to define for the first time a new research framework called “circular economy for food policy”, along with its characteristics: the application of a systemic approach and CE to problems and solutions, the need for a transdisciplinary and integrated project design for the 9R (responsibility, react, reduce, reuse, re-design, repair, recover, recycle, and rot), the use of food as a pivot of cross-sectoral change, and a new form of collaborative and integrated governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Sustainability of Circular Economy Indicators and Their Impact on Economic Growth of the European Union
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5481; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195481 - 03 Oct 2019
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 2256
Abstract
In this paper, we develop a methodology for studying the sustainability of the circular economy model, based on environmental indicators, and its impact on European Union (EU) economic growth. In open-end systems, waste is converted back to materials and objects through recycling; hence, [...] Read more.
In this paper, we develop a methodology for studying the sustainability of the circular economy model, based on environmental indicators, and its impact on European Union (EU) economic growth. In open-end systems, waste is converted back to materials and objects through recycling; hence, a linear economy is transformed into a circular economy (CE). Environmental factors support the argument for the sustainable implementation of a circular economy. The main objective of this paper is to analyze the sustainability of the CE indicators and to elaborate a multilinear regression model with panel data for determining the dependency of the main CE factors on EU economic growth. Starting with the model of economic growth based on circular material use rate, recycling rate of municipal waste (RRMW), trade in recycling materials, labor productivity, environmental taxes, and resource productivity as independent variables, six statistical hypotheses were validated through a multiple regression model with the use of the statistical software EViews 11. The research study was conducted for 27 EU countries, and the data was collected from the European Union Statistical Office (EUROSTAT), during the time frame 2010 to 2017. Based on econometric modeling, the paper highlights that circular economy generates sustainable economic growth across the EU. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
Consumer Perceptions Related to Clothing Repair and Community Mending Events: A Circular Economy Perspective
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5306; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195306 - 26 Sep 2019
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2824
Abstract
While research focusing on clothing repair and community mending events as part of sustainable clothing consumption practices has been conducted in some developed European countries (e.g., the U.K. and the Netherlands), little research has examined consumer clothes mending/repairing behavior in a U.S. context. [...] Read more.
While research focusing on clothing repair and community mending events as part of sustainable clothing consumption practices has been conducted in some developed European countries (e.g., the U.K. and the Netherlands), little research has examined consumer clothes mending/repairing behavior in a U.S. context. The purpose of this study was to explore U.S. consumers’ specific barriers and motivations to engage in clothing repair and their likelihood to participate in clothes mending and community mending events. An intercept survey approach was used to administer a questionnaire to participants who were attendees at three different events in a mid-sized city in Colorado, U.S. across a two-week time span. Data were collected from 254 participants. Path analysis was conducted to test four sets of hypotheses. The results suggested that consumers’ perceived barriers negatively influenced their mending frequency. Consumer’s perceived motivations positively influenced their attitudes toward mending, their mending frequency, and sustainable post-consumption clothing behaviors (SPCBs). Furthermore, participants’ attitudes toward mending, mending frequency, and their SPCBs positively influenced their intentions to mend clothes and to participate in community mending events. The current study advances the understanding of US consumers’ clothes mending behaviors and provides critical implications for local governments and education systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
The Ecological Criteria of Circular Growth and the Rebound Risk of Closed Loops
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2961; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102961 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2651
Abstract
The implementation practices of the circular economy (CE) put a strong emphasis on preventing material losses in economic processes. The general interpretation of the concept focuses on closing technological and biological cycles by reintegrating end-of-life products into production and consumption systems. Thus, “closed [...] Read more.
The implementation practices of the circular economy (CE) put a strong emphasis on preventing material losses in economic processes. The general interpretation of the concept focuses on closing technological and biological cycles by reintegrating end-of-life products into production and consumption systems. Thus, “closed loops” have become a trademark of circular transition. However, this limited perception fails to cover the essence of the CE. Besides closure, the utility of material loops can be prolonged, and a conscious consumer attitude may even prevent the creation of unnecessary material flows. This paper aims at proving that the preference of closed loops would result in deadweight losses in the long run. The conducted analysis ranks EU member states according to the most anticipated material flow indicators. Then, the study presents a new methodology to measure circular efficiency based on the available ecological capacity of the countries. The outcomes show that the poorly performing actors are in fact not far from a sustainable operation. Meanwhile, the countries with the most efficient material flow values present the widest development gap to reach the ideal level of circularity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Review

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Review
Circular Economy Strategies for Equipment Lifetime Extension: A Systematic Review
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1117; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031117 - 21 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 959
Abstract
Even if the economy nowadays is still locked into a linear model of production, tighter environmental standards, resource scarcity and changing consumer expectations are forcing organizations to find alternatives to lighten their impacts. The concept of Circular Economy (CE) is to an increasing [...] Read more.
Even if the economy nowadays is still locked into a linear model of production, tighter environmental standards, resource scarcity and changing consumer expectations are forcing organizations to find alternatives to lighten their impacts. The concept of Circular Economy (CE) is to an increasing extent treated as a solution to this series of challenges. That said, the multitude of approaches and definitions around CE and Life Cycle Extension Strategies (LCES) makes it difficult to provide (Small and Medium Enterprise) SMEs with a consistent understanding of the topic. This paper aims at bridging this gap by providing a systematic literature review of the most prominent papers related to the CE and lifetime extension, with a particular focus on the equipment and machinery sector. A taxonomy was used to define and cluster a subset of selected papers to build a homogeneous approach for understanding the multiple strategies used in the industry, and the standards in maintenance and remanufacturing strategies. As a final research step, we also propose a Strategy Characterization Framework (SCF) to build the ground for the selection of the best strategy to be applied for production equipment life cycle extension on several industrial use cases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Review
Consumption in the Circular Economy: Learning from Our Mistakes
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 601; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020601 - 10 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1788
Abstract
The Circular Economy (CE) is gaining increasing attention among businesses, policymakers and academia, and across research disciplines. While the concept’s strong diffusion may be considered its main strength, it has also contributed to the emergence of many different understandings and definitions, which may [...] Read more.
The Circular Economy (CE) is gaining increasing attention among businesses, policymakers and academia, and across research disciplines. While the concept’s strong diffusion may be considered its main strength, it has also contributed to the emergence of many different understandings and definitions, which may hinder or slow down its success. Specifically, despite growing attention, the role of the consumption side in the CE remains a largely under-researched topic. In the present review, we first search the literature by means of snowball mapping and a systematic key-word strategy, and then critically analyze the identified sources in order to elucidate the fundamental elements that should characterize consumption in a CE. We extract two pillars, directly from definition, that should be at the nucleus of future research on consumption in the CE: (1) the hierarchical nature of circular strategies, with “reduce” being preferred to all other strategies; and (2) the inadequacy of defining the CE only through its loops or strategies without considering its goal of attaining sustainable development. Moreover, the discussion is placed within the extant consumer research streams deemed relevant, in order to bridge these with the context of the CE. We highlight limitations of said research streams regarding their typical focus on the quality (and not the quantity) of consumption, the lack of heterogeneity in the theories and data collection methods employed, and the non-impact-based instruments typically used to measure consumption behaviors. We show how these limitations have contributed to the emergence of the intention–behavior gap, a phenomenon extant studies identify as key to overcome for encouraging sustainable consumption practices. In particular, we focus the analysis on the intention–behavior gap in order to: (1) establish the state-of-the-art; and (2) uncover avenues for future research addressing extant limitations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
Review
Addressing the Social Aspects of a Circular Economy: A Systematic Literature Review
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7912; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197912 - 24 Sep 2020
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 2865
Abstract
Circular Economy (CE) is a growing topic among scholars, industries, and governments, and is aimed at decoupling economic growth and development from the consumption of finite resources. CE incorporates different meanings, from reduce, reuse, and recycle activities, to environmental degradation or resource scarcity, [...] Read more.
Circular Economy (CE) is a growing topic among scholars, industries, and governments, and is aimed at decoupling economic growth and development from the consumption of finite resources. CE incorporates different meanings, from reduce, reuse, and recycle activities, to environmental degradation or resource scarcity, and is supported by specific indicators to attain sustainable development. However, so far, there has been no agreement to measure how effective an industry/product is in making the transition from linear to circular approaches, particularly those that affect society. This research work aims to perform a systematic literature review (n = 60) to analyze and discuss how social aspects have been considered and integrated in CE research so far. Moreover, this review provides an overview of the literature on social impact within the CE, which results in three main outputs: a knowledge map of the CE, an analysis of social aspects within CE, and the theories/frameworks used to evaluate social impact of CE. Finally, this study brings to light how CE implementation can affect society and highlights the importance of social dimension in the domains of CE and a policy-making community, which could help move CE towards a sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Review
Perspectives of Circular Economy in Romanian Space
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6819; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176819 - 22 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 831
Abstract
The circular economy (CE) is a popular concept in the European Union (EU) space, which has been the subject of numerous research and substantiation activities. In the last years, there has been a growing interest in Romania regarding the characteristics of this new [...] Read more.
The circular economy (CE) is a popular concept in the European Union (EU) space, which has been the subject of numerous research and substantiation activities. In the last years, there has been a growing interest in Romania regarding the characteristics of this new economic model and the principles on which it works. Referring to Romanian specialized literature currently available regarding the submitted topic, we consider that the theoretical part is insufficiently structured. In addition, by pointing out the applicability of the circular economy in Romanian space, we consider this to be represented mainly by the fragility of its effective and practical implementation. The examples of Romanian successes in the field of circular economy are limited, a fact that can be explained—from our perspective—through the aspect that in other EU countries, the process of development of CE has some precedents, a stronger background and a ”self-constructed” history in the topic. There is undoubtedly a necessity for adopting this new economic model, considering that, for the most part, Romanian economy is still dependent on the linear economic system. Starting from these arguments, the proposed article uses a thematic debate of the notion of circular economy, presenting, at the beginning, an incursion into the predominantly European variety of theoretical approaches. The selection of definitions and conceptualization is continued with an analysis of the stage of implementation of CE in Romania. The purpose of this approach is to investigate a niche identified in the Romanian space, not covered in the specialized scientific research and to expose the specificity of the process of transition of Romania to a circular economy, of the barriers encountered—namely, the problem related to the attitude and mentality regarding this new concept. We also point out that the intention of the study is to integrate a ”different” contemporary and very current economic concept into a real economy, and at the same time, to increase the visibility of its application at the level of a member country of the EU. The challenges encountered in the context of the increasingly present tendency in Romania of assimilating and complying with the precepts of the circular economy are also detailed, proposing, at the end of the study suggestions for improving the gaps identified at this level. The most realistic implementation of the circular model in Romania represents a qualitative plus for the human-society factor, as well as for the environment. In conclusion, we note that, despite the evolution of the number of theoretical approaches and concerns, the field of circular economy and the perspectives it proposes, continues to offer a favorable ground for further research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Review
Circular Economy Practices and Strategies in Public Sector Organizations: An Integrative Review
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4181; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104181 - 20 May 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2913
Abstract
The concept of the Circular Economy (CE) is an increasingly attractive approach to tackling current sustainability challenges and facilitating a shift away from the linear “take-make-use-dispose” model of production and consumption. The public sector is a major contributor to the CE transition not [...] Read more.
The concept of the Circular Economy (CE) is an increasingly attractive approach to tackling current sustainability challenges and facilitating a shift away from the linear “take-make-use-dispose” model of production and consumption. The public sector is a major contributor to the CE transition not only as a policy-maker but also as a significant purchaser, consumer, and user of goods and services. The circularization of the public sector itself, however, has received very little attention in CE research. In order to explore the current state of knowledge on the implementation of CE practices and strategies within Public Sector Organizations (PSOs), this research aims to develop an overview of the existing literature. The literature review was designed combining a systematic search with a complementary purposive sampling. Using organizational sustainability as a theoretical perspective, the main results showed a scattered landscape, indicating that the limited research on CE practices and strategies in PSOs has focused so far on the areas of public procurement, internal operations and processes, and public service delivery. As a result of this literature review, an organizational CE framework of a PSO is proposed providing a holistic view of a PSO as a system with organizational dimensions that are relevant for the examination and analysis of the integration process of CE practices and strategies. This innovative framework aims to help further CE research and practice to move beyond current sustainability efforts, highlighting that public procurement, strategy and management, internal processes and operations, assessment and communication, public service delivery, human resources dimensions, collaboration with other organizations, and various external contexts are important public sector areas where the implementation of CE has the potential to bring sustainability benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Other

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Soil as a Basis to Create Enabling Conditions for Transitions Towards Sustainable Land Management as a Key to Achieve the SDGs by 2030
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6792; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236792 - 29 Nov 2019
Cited by 81 | Viewed by 3043
Abstract
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be grouped into three domains, the environmental domain, the social domain and the economic domain. These different layers influence each other; hence sustainable progress in the economic layer cannot be achieved without good progress in the two [...] Read more.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be grouped into three domains, the environmental domain, the social domain and the economic domain. These different layers influence each other; hence sustainable progress in the economic layer cannot be achieved without good progress in the two other layers. To achieve the SDGs, transitions in the current system are needed and actions should be taken that support transitions and contribute to short term needs and long term (global) goals. Therefore, it is necessary to have knowledge of transitions and understand the different phases of transition. In this paper we discuss the key role of the soil-water system in these transitions and the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. The increasing pressure on land calls for multi-use of land and for the restoration of degraded land. Healthy soils and healthy land are the basic conditions for the successful implementation and realization of the SDGs. To enable a sustainable management of the soil and water system a transition approach is a prerequisite. In the X-curve used to describe transitions, soil and land stakeholders are given a framework, which provides perspective for action, specifically for science and governance stakeholders in each phase of the transition. This framework can provide the required intensive guidance to (1) analyze the impact of provided incentives, (2) identify new reference points in the transition and (3) stimulate transition catalysts, and (iv) innovate by testing cutting edge policy instruments in close cooperation with society. The key to make the necessary transitions and realize the SDGs by 2030 lies in the intensive guidance to combining initiatives, steering knowledge flows and continuously assessing the stage of the transition, in order to plan specific steps needed to progress in the transition framework. Both scientist and policy makers have an important role in this guidance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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