Special Issue "The Circular Economy as a Promoter of Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Nelson Martins
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Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical Engineering & Centre for Mechanical Technology and Automation, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Interests: Heat Transfer; Thermal Simulation; Energy Management System; Climetization
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Prof. Dr. Naim Afgan
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Guest Editor
Full Professor (Emeritus), United Nations Educational Sustainability Chair holder, Institute Superior Técnico, Lisbon University, Portugal
Interests: sustainable development; circular economy; multi-criteria analysis
Prof. Dr. Carlos Borrego
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Guest Editor
Department of Environment & Planning, Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Interests: air quality monitoring and modelling; atmospheric impact assessment of industrial units; environmental risk assessment; environmental impact studies; climate change mitigation and adaptation as co-benefit for air pollution, from the regional to local scale (using nature-based solutions); circular economy in cities; sustainable development
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Prof. Dr. Marta Ferreira Dias
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Guest Editor
Research Unit on Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policies (GOVCOPP), Department of Economics, Management, Industrial Engineering and Tourism (DEGEIT) Universidade de Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Interests: energy policy and regulation; energy economics; energy markets; energy demand and supply; consumer behaviour; eco-innovation; sustainability
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Dr. Maria Isabel Nunes
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Guest Editor
Department of Environment and Planning, Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), University of Aveiro, Portugal
Interests: solid waste management; waste valorization; water pollution and treatment; life cycle assessment; bio-diesel fuels
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Prof. Dr. Carlos Felgueiras
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Guest Editor
Center for Innovation in Engineering and Industrial Technology (CIETI) and School of Engineering (ISEP), Polytechnic of Porto (P.PORTO), R. Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida 431, 4249-015 Porto, Portugal
Interests: energy quality; energy and buildings; energy and environmental indicators; renewable energy systems; sustainable energy systems; engineering education
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Prof. Dr. Nídia Caetano
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Guest Editor
School of Engineering (ISEP), Polytechnic of Porto (P.PORTO), R. Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida 431, 4249-015 Porto, Portugal
Interests: biodiesel; bioethanol; biorefinery; energy storage systems; microalgae biorefineries; sustainable energy systems; waste valorization; wastewater treatment; waste-to-energy
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A circular economy encourages sustainability and competitiveness in the long term. The recognized scarcity of key natural resources and the growing volume of industrial and urban waste are the basis of the recognition that a circular economy approach is the pathway for sustainable development.

On 4th March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of a Circular Economy Action Plan. The report presents the main achievements under the Action Plan and sketches out future challenges to shaping our economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimized. 

This special issue of Sustainability, with the theme “The Circular Economy as a Promoter of Sustainability”, aims to publish research or review articles dealing with the topics related with (i) sustainable development strategies based on the circular economy concept, (ii) exploring the role and progress of production and consumption to waste management, including energy, (iii) market for secondary raw materials, (iv) closed loop product lifecycles, (v) recycling and re-use, and (vi) support consumers choosing sustainable products and services.

We welcome original contributions that can address any of these challenges.

Prof. Nelson Martins
Prof. Naim Afgan
Prof. Carlos Borrego
Prof. Marta Ferreira Dias
Prof. Maria Isabel Nunes
Prof. Carlos Felgueiras
Prof. Nídia Caetano
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.

Keywords

  • circular economy for sustainable economy
  • eco-design and eco-efficiency in a circular economy
  • circular economy contribution to resource efficiency and sufficiency, including energy
  • critical resources management
  • responsible consumption
  • strategy for plastics in a circular economy
  • public policies, economics, planning and regulation in a circular economy framework
  • life cycle assessment and circular economy
  • ICT and circular economy monitoring

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Performance Assessment of a Hybrid System with Hydrogen Storage and Fuel Cell for Cogeneration in Buildings
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4832; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124832 - 12 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 744
Abstract
The search for new fuels to supersede fossil fuels has been intensified these recent decades. Among these fuels, hydrogen has attracted much interest due to its advantages, mainly cleanliness and availability. It can be produced from various raw materials (e.g., water, biomass) using [...] Read more.
The search for new fuels to supersede fossil fuels has been intensified these recent decades. Among these fuels, hydrogen has attracted much interest due to its advantages, mainly cleanliness and availability. It can be produced from various raw materials (e.g., water, biomass) using many resources, mainly water electrolysis and natural gas reforming. However, water electrolysis combined with renewable energy sources is the cleanest way to produce hydrogen while reducing greenhouse gases. Besides, hydrogen can be used by fuel cells for producing both electrical and thermal energy. The aim of this work was towards efficient integration of this system into energy efficient buildings. The system is comprised of a photovoltaic system, hydrogen electrolyzer, and proton exchange membrane fuel cell operating as a cogeneration system to provide the building with both electricity and thermal energy. The system’s modeling, simulations, and experimentations were first conducted over a short-run period to assess the system’s performance. Reported results show the models’ accuracy in analyzing the system’s performance. We then used the developed models for long-run testing of the hybrid system. Accordingly, the system’s electrical efficiency was almost 32%. Its overall efficiency reached 64.5% when taking into account both produced electricity and thermal energy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Circular Economy as a Promoter of Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
A BIM-LCA Approach for Estimating the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Large-Scale Public Buildings: A Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 685; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020685 - 17 Jan 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 1290
Abstract
Exiting green building assessment standards sometimes cannot work well for large-scale public buildings due to insufficient attention to the operation and maintenance stage. This paper combines the theory of life cycle assessment (LCA) and building information modeling (BIM) technology, thereby proposing a green [...] Read more.
Exiting green building assessment standards sometimes cannot work well for large-scale public buildings due to insufficient attention to the operation and maintenance stage. This paper combines the theory of life cycle assessment (LCA) and building information modeling (BIM) technology, thereby proposing a green building assessment method by calculating the greenhouse gas emissions (GGE) of buildings from cradle to grave. Life cycle GGE (LCGGE) can be divided into three parts, including the materialization stage, the operation and maintenance stage, and the demolition stage. Two pieces of BIM software (Revit and Designbuilder) are applied in this study. A museum in Guangdong, China, with a hot summer and warm winter is selected for a case study. The results show that BIM can provide a rich source of needed engineering information for LCA. In addition, the operation and maintenance stage plays the most important role in the GGE reduction of a building throughout the whole life cycle. This research contributes to the knowledge body concerning green buildings and sustainable construction. It helps to achieve the reduction of GGE over the whole life cycle of a building. This is pertinent to contractors, homebuyers, and governments who are constantly seeking ways to achieve a low-carbon economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Circular Economy as a Promoter of Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Recoverability Analysis of Critical Materials from Electric Vehicle Lithium-Ion Batteries through a Dynamic Fleet-Based Approach for Japan
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010147 - 23 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1302
Abstract
This study aims to propose a model to forecast the volume of critical materials that can be recovered from lithium-ion batteries (LiB) through the recycling of end of life electric vehicles (EV). To achieve an environmentally sustainable society, the wide-scale adoption of EV [...] Read more.
This study aims to propose a model to forecast the volume of critical materials that can be recovered from lithium-ion batteries (LiB) through the recycling of end of life electric vehicles (EV). To achieve an environmentally sustainable society, the wide-scale adoption of EV seems to be necessary. Here, the dependency of the vehicle on its batteries has an essential role. The efficient recycling of LiB to minimize its raw material supply risk but also the economic impact of its production process is going to be essential. Initially, this study forecasted the vehicle fleet, sales, and end of life vehicles based on system dynamics modeling considering data of scrapping rates of vehicles by year of life. Then, the volumes of the critical materials supplied for LiB production and recovered from recycling were identified, considering variations in the size/type of batteries. Finally, current limitations to achieve closed-loop production in Japan were identified. The results indicate that the amount of scrapped electric vehicle batteries (EVB) will increase by 55 times from 2018 to 2050, and that 34% of lithium (Li), 50% of cobalt (Co), 28% of nickel (Ni), and 52% of manganese (Mn) required for the production of new LiB could be supplied by recovered EVB in 2035. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Circular Economy as a Promoter of Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
A Case Study of Industrial Symbiosis in the Humber Region Using the EPOS Methodology
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6940; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246940 - 05 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1461
Abstract
For the last 20 years, the field of industrial symbiosis (IS) has raised interest among academics and industries. IS consists of dissimilar entities sharing and valorising underutilised resources such as materials, energy, information, services, or technologies in the view of increasing the industrial [...] Read more.
For the last 20 years, the field of industrial symbiosis (IS) has raised interest among academics and industries. IS consists of dissimilar entities sharing and valorising underutilised resources such as materials, energy, information, services, or technologies in the view of increasing the industrial system’s circularity. Despite the benefits brought by IS, though, barriers hindering the full dissemination of IS remain. This paper presents a methodology developed in the framework of the H2020 European project EPOS that aims at removing some of the obstacles to the implementation of IS. The method follows a multidisciplinary approach that intents to trigger the interest of industry decision-makers and initiate efforts to optimise the use of energy and material resources through symbiosis. It is applied to an industrial cluster located in the Humber region of UK. The case study shows how the approach helped to identify several IS opportunities, how one particular high-potential symbiosis was further assessed, and how it led to the creation of a business case. It was estimated that the identified symbiosis could bring substantial economic (+2000 k€ pa), environmental (−4000 t of CO2 eq. pa) and social (+7 years of healthy life) gains to the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Circular Economy as a Promoter of Sustainability)
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