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Special Issue "Sustainable Consumption and Production by Upcycling: Advances in Science and Practices"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 4879

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Kyungeun Sung
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
De Montfort University, UK
Interests: circular economy; sustainable consumption; sustainable design; sustainable production; upcycling
Dr. Jagdeep Singh
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Lund University, Sweden
Interests: circular economy; life cycle assessment; sharing economy; sustainable consumption; upcycling
Prof. Tim Cooper
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nottingham Trent University, UK
Interests: product longevity; public policy; sustainable consumption; sustainable design; sustainable production

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Mass production and consumption based on virgin materials have been the mainstream practice for decades across industrialised nations. During this period, many useful skills of maintenance and repair have been lost with the rise of the consumer society, while planned premature obsolescence has become commonplace, leading to significant environmental impacts. Reducing the current unsustainable levels of resource consumption requires slowing and closing material cycles.

Upcycling—the creation or modification of a product from used or waste materials, components and products of equal or higher quality or value than their compositional elements—is a promising alternative to mass production and consumption based on the use of virgin materials (Singh et al., 2019). In theory, upcycling reduces waste and extends the lifetimes of products and materials, thereby increasing material efficiency and reducing energy consumption. It has the potential to create new employment opportunities, support a “prosumer” culture, and encourage sustainable consumer behaviour. However, despite the numerous anticipated benefits, upcycling remains a niche practice. There has been a growing academic and industrial interest in upcycling, particularly related to the emerging circular economy, but research in upcycling is still at an infant stage. The development of upcycling theory and practices is required if there is to be a transition in upcycling from niche to mainstream.

This Special Issue of Sustainability is seeking papers that enhance our understanding of upcycling as a design, production, or consumption practice in different socio-cultural contexts. We welcome articles disseminating high-quality research of: (a) conceptual studies; (b) empirical work including experimental studies, interviews and surveys; (c) best practice case studies; and (d) holistic reviews.

Dr. Kyungeun Sung
Dr. Jagdeep Singh
Prof. Tim Cooper
Guest Editors

References:

Singh, J., Sung, K., Cooper, T., West, K., Mont, O., 2019. Challenges and opportunities for scaling up upcycling businesses – The case of textile and wood upcycling businesses in the UK. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 150, 104439. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.RESCONREC.2019.104439.

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. 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 2000 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
  • sustainable consumption
  • sustainable design
  • sustainable production
  • upcycling

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
The Sustainability Potential of Upcycling
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 5989; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14105989 - 15 May 2022
Viewed by 807
Abstract
The upcycling trend has received renewed attention in the past few years due to growing concerns for the environment related to increased resource consumption and waste volumes. Indeed, cities across the world are supporting resource upcycling initiatives by establishing do-it-yourself (DIY) repair cafes [...] Read more.
The upcycling trend has received renewed attention in the past few years due to growing concerns for the environment related to increased resource consumption and waste volumes. Indeed, cities across the world are supporting resource upcycling initiatives by establishing do-it-yourself (DIY) repair cafes and makerspaces as a means to transform societies towards sustainable development. However, the sustainability potential of such upcycling initiatives is unknown due to the lack of theoretical frameworks. This research aims to explore the direct and indirect social, economic, and environmental implications of upcycling activities at DIY bicycle repair studios. The main objectives of the study were to: (1) examine the upcycling activities in these studios that contribute to slowing and closing the material cycles, (2) explore the behavioral implications of the users of these maker spaces in the context of environmental sustainability, and (3) propose ways to evaluate the broad environmental impacts of the upcycling activities at these studios. The objectives were explored in three case studies—2 in Sweden (Cykelköket in Malmö and Bagarmossens Cykelköket in Stockholm) and 1 in Switzerland (Point Vélo, Lausanne). Semi-structured interviews, user surveys, and participant observation methods are employed to collect qualitative, and quantitative data to formulate a systemic exploration of major activities and socio-economic exchanges at these repair cafes. The study identified multiple social, economic, and environmental impacts of upcycling activities and represented them in causal loop diagrams. Based on this, a framework for evaluating and governing the overall sustainability potential of upcycling activities is proposed. Full article
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Article
Material Inventories and Garment Ontologies: Advancing Upcycling Methods in Fashion Practice
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 2906; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052906 - 02 Mar 2022
Viewed by 928
Abstract
This study seeks to advance upcycling methods in fashion practice with the specificity of design methods that centre on revaluation and resignification of waste materials. The development of three key approaches to upcycling were tested for future application as design briefs and pedagogies [...] Read more.
This study seeks to advance upcycling methods in fashion practice with the specificity of design methods that centre on revaluation and resignification of waste materials. The development of three key approaches to upcycling were tested for future application as design briefs and pedagogies in practice and education. These were developed through the acquisition, sorting and selection of a large sample of secondhand, consumer waste materials across fashion and textiles sectors. Practice-based experiments and the use of different forms of photo documentation examined and explored distinct ways to creatively understand waste material properties, conditions and potential. Fashion and material studies frameworks of object biographies, wardrobe studies, waste, secondhand material economies and art practice approaches of reclaimed materials expanded and refined the approaches. “Material Inventories” is proposed as a creative and analytical method to identify, sort and annotate pre- and post-consumer waste materials. “Garment ontologies” delineates how traditionally “design” in fashion practice is separate from materials and production. These methods enable a deeper investigation into material qualities, conditions, and reuse potential for extended life cycles. This experimental study presents novel and relevant findings with a compelling material sample and practice-based methods adjacent to scholarship in this area that are predominately theoretical- or case study-based. Full article
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Article
Adapting Darnton’s Nine Principles Framework for Behaviour Change: The UK Upcycling Case Study
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1919; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031919 - 08 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 633
Abstract
Design practitioners and academics have increasingly recognised the potential value of design for behaviour change. On the one hand, while existing studies address product or communication design as main interventions, there is a growing interest in design as a useful tool for policy [...] Read more.
Design practitioners and academics have increasingly recognised the potential value of design for behaviour change. On the one hand, while existing studies address product or communication design as main interventions, there is a growing interest in design as a useful tool for policy development and service innovation. On the other hand, the interplay between social research, design, and policy development in behaviour intervention is not a new concept or practice, yet studies to suggest and evaluate particular general approaches to policy and design interventions are relatively new and rare. To fill this knowledge gap, this paper adapts Darnton’s Nine Principles framework as one promising generic approach, demonstrates how the adapted framework can be applied to the upcycling case study in the UK and evaluates the usefulness of the adapted framework. The study results show that the adapted framework is useful for exploring behaviour and developing interventions in small-scale, exploratory studies, and that it can be applied to other behaviour domains and contexts. The main contribution of this paper is the demonstration of the potential of Darnton’s original and adapted frameworks as a promising general approach useful for policy and design interventions. Full article
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Review

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Review
Reshaping the Module: The Path to Comprehensive Photovoltaic Panel Recycling
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1676; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031676 - 01 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1134
Abstract
The market for photovoltaic modules is expanding rapidly, with more than 500 GW installed capacity. Consequently, there is an urgent need to prepare for the comprehensive recycling of end-of-life solar modules. Crystalline silicon remains the primary photovoltaic technology, with CdTe and CIGS taking [...] Read more.
The market for photovoltaic modules is expanding rapidly, with more than 500 GW installed capacity. Consequently, there is an urgent need to prepare for the comprehensive recycling of end-of-life solar modules. Crystalline silicon remains the primary photovoltaic technology, with CdTe and CIGS taking up much of the remaining market. Modules can be separated by crushing or cutting, or by thermal or solvent-based delamination. Separation and extraction of semiconductor materials can be achieved through manual, mechanical, wet or dry chemical means, or a combination. Crystalline silicon modules are currently recycled through crushing and mechanical separation, but procedures do exist for extraction and processing of intact wafers or wafer pieces. Use of these processes could lead to the recovery of higher grades of silicon. CdTe panels are mostly recycled using a chemical leaching process, with the metals recovered from the leachate. CIGS can be recycled through oxidative removal of selenium and thermochemical recovery of the metals, or by electrochemical or hydrometallurgical means. A remaining area of concern is recycling of the polymeric encapsulant and backsheet materials. There is a move away from the use of fluorinated backsheet polymers which may allow for improved recycling, but further research is required to identify materials which can be recycled readily whilst also being able to withstand outdoor environments for multi-decadal timespans. Full article
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