Session Chair

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Session Info

Session Title: Pathways towards a Circular Economy

Date: 27.08.2020

Time: 3:15 – 3:45pm

Session Type: Discussion Session

Presenters: Christoph Soukup, Silu Bhochhibhoya, Michael Dieterle, Eleonora Foschi

Session Abstracts


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We know that the world is in a crisis. And still, we do not act, at least not collectively and as would be appropriate in an emergency mode. In my presentation, I explore the reasons behind this inaction. I lay out the strategies of people to cope with emergencies: fight, denegation, agony, panic. I examine the role of an appealing vision of the future to get us into action. I describe why and how a circular economy approach can form such a perspective and how it is put into practice already today.


Richard Buckminster Fuller (1969): Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale und Edwardsville

Peter Singer (2013): Praktische Ethik. 3. rev. und erw. Aufl., Reclam, Stuttgart

Stephen Gardiner, David A. Weisbach (2016): Debating Climate Ethics, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Thomas Rau, Sabine Oberhuber (2018): Material Matters, 2. Auflage, Econ, Berlin


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Li Jiang

Henny ter Huerne

Robin de Graaf


The Netherlands aims to reduce primary raw material consumption to 50% in 2030 and to achieve a fully circular economy (CE) in 2050. The construction industry is resource-intensive, being considered as the highest priority. However, being a novel concept, a lack of shared understanding and common languages can be found among scholars, which impedes the implementation of the CE in reality. Large quantities of questions among scholars are concerning the circularity measurement. It is widely agreed that the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) developed by Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Granta Design (2015) is the most ambitious circularity framework and can be served as a good starting point (Linder et al., 2017). In this study, two limitations inherent in the MCI are focused in order to develop a standard circularity metric, aiming to help the construction companies estimate how advanced on their way from linear to circular. One of the limitations concern the unit (mass) used in the MCI, which implies the materials with larger quantities have a relatively higher value in a CE; however, the value scarcity of materials/products is not considered. The shortcoming of the mass unit is revised by complementing the economic value of materials, instead of focusing only on physical units. Furthermore, in the MCI, the quantities (weight) of a product will not change over time, which implies that the value embedded in the product also maintains the same throughout the whole life cycle. This assumption is not reliable when integrating the unit of economic value into the MCI; therefore, a new indicator “Residual Value (R)” is designed for the adjusted metric. Furthermore, in order to support an actual use, how to quantify the “R” is fundamental; hence, a residual value calculator is developed to support the circularity assessment. Overall, the differences between the adjusted metric and the MCI are the unit and the new indicator R. A case study approach is adopted to evaluate the effect of each adjustment (combined adjustment) compared with the MCI. The results show using mass unit causes calculation difficulties and inaccurate results, especially when light-weight (while valuable) materials are applied in the project. Furthermore, the results of with/without “R” are almost the same when the percentage of non-virgin feedstock and recoverable waste is low; therefore, it is recommended to consider the input of residual value when the circularity level is relatively high.


Ellen Macarthur Foundation & Granta Design. (2015). Circularity Indicators An Approch to Measuring Circularity Retrieved from

Linder, M., Sarasini, S., & van Loon, P. (2017). A metric for quantifying product‐level circularity. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21(3), 545-558.


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Tobias Viere


Life cycle gap analysis (LCGA) is a particular technique to interpret life cycle assessment (LCA) results from a circular economy (CE) perspective in order to identify potentials for further improvement of products sustainability (Dieterle, Schäfer and Viere 2018). The presentation conceptualizes an extension of the methodology by integrating economic cost assessments in terms of eco-efficiency. The visualization of the results in an eco-efficiency portfolio allows to identify barriers and drivers of business models for circular and sustainable products. It therefore supports innovation and technology managers, product designers and engineers by analyzing the consequences of their ideas and decisions with regard to both, the vision of CE and the actual consequences for current life cycle systems.


Dieterle, M., Schäfer, P., & Viere, T. (2018). Life Cycle Gaps: Interpreting LCA Results with a Circular Economy Mindset. (ScienceDirect, Ed.) Procedia CIRP, 69, pp. 764-768. doi: 10.1016/j.procir.2017.11.058


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Alessandra Bonoli

Manuela Ratta


Compared to other materials, plastic has registered a strong acceleration in production and consumption during the last years. The waste management infrastructure is not adequate to receive and treat the current amount of plastic waste generated in Europe so as to be still widely underperforming. Plastic_based materials are still a pervasive presence in the environment, with negative consequences on marine ecosystem and human health. The recycling is still challenging due to the growing complexity of product design, the so-called overpackaging, the insufficient and inadequate recycling infrastructure, the weak market of recycled plastics and the high cost of waste treatment and disposal. Circular economy (CE) plays a primary role in fostering the rethinking of plastics towards a more sustainable system, going well beyond resource efficiency and waste recycling. CE models promote not only the circularity of materials, but also the reduction of materials flow. The Circular economy package and the European Strategy for plastics in a circular economy include a very ambitious programme to rethink the entire plastic value chain. The mission of the Commission is to highlight the intrinsic value of materials along the value chain and in further cycles. As regards packaging, all plastic packaging will have to be 100% recyclable (or reusable) and 55% recycled by 2030. Regions are consequently called upon to set up a robust plan able to fit the European objectives. It takes on greater importance in Emilia Romagna where the Packaging valley is located. This work has set the basis and the instruments to establish the so-called Circularity Strategy with the aim to turn additional 92.000t of plastic waste into profitable value. System innovation, life cycle thinking and participative backcasting method have allowed to deeply analyse the current system, orientate the problem and explore sustainable solutions through a broad stakeholder participation. System thinking requires longitudinal and transversal observations. It follows that the Multi Level Perspective analysis have included social, economic, environmental and technical-technological issues.


Crippa, M., De Wilde, B., Koopmans, R., Leyssens, J., Muncke, J., Ritschkoff A-C., Van Doorsselaer, K., Velis, C. & Wagner, M. A (2019). Circular economy for plastics – Insights from research and innovation to inform policy and funding decisions, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Edquist, C. (2001). The Systems of Innovation Approach and Innovation Policy: An account of the state of the art. DRUID Conference, Aalborg

Foschi, E., Bonoli. A. (2019). The Commitment of Packaging Industry in the Framework of the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy. Administrative Science Journal. doi:10.3390/admsci9010018

Jambeck, J.R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T.R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., Narayan, R., and Law, K.L. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science, 347, 768-771.

Quist, J. (2007). Backcasting for a sustainable future: the impact after 10 years. Analysis.

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