Tag Archives: circular economy

Material Footprint Implications of Low-Carbon Technologies

By | 30th October 2022

Energy scarcity and material abundance characterize the current global economy. Demand for energy services in buildings, transport, and industry cannot be met, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered multiple sanctions and supply chain disruptions for fossil fuels, mainly in Western Europe but also beyond. But even before, energy costs were on the rise due to… Read More »

Sustainability and Transitions Research: Taking the High Road

By | 2nd June 2022

In a recent opinion paper, [1] Julian Kirchherr complains about that “up to 50% of the articles that are now being published in many interdisciplinary sustainability and transitions journals may be categorized as “scholarly bullshit”. These articles, Julian states, “typically engage with the latest sustainability and transitions buzzword (e.g., circular economy), while contributing little to… Read More »

Short lifetime of metals in the anthroposphere illustrates the challenge of closing material cycles

By | 7th February 2021

“Metals can be recycled indefinitely.” That marketing phrase of the metal producers sounds plausible, as we simply need to heat up and melt a bunch of scrap metal and cast and then roll or forge it into its new shape. With low-carbon heat, such perfect recycling could even largely eliminate GHG emissions from metal production,… Read More »

The Circular Economy: Breakthrough or Distraction?

By | 15th December 2017

Our material footprint is expanding (Wiedmann et al., 2015), in-use stocks are growing (Müller et al., 2013), and so are greenhouse gas emissions from material production, like cement (Andrew, 2017). The rollout of renewable energy and efficient technology hinges on ample supply of a vast array of materials and chemical elements (Graedel et al., 2013),… Read More »

Launching of the CircularSankey web application

By | 11th December 2017

Sankey diagrams are an important visualisation tool but drawing them is a tedious job. There are a number of both freeware and payware tools out there that do the drawing for you but I found none of them convincing or worth paying for. I want a tool that is not too difficult to use saves… Read More »

Growth of in-use stocks: Central obstacle to closing material cycles

By | 13th November 2017

Recycling, re-use, and remanufacturing are central sustainable development strategies. In most cases, they save both: energy and primary resources. There are currently four main indicators to measure the performance of a recycling/re-use/re-manufacturing loop: Costs. In many cases, recycling is not economic, which mostly explains the tremendously high loss rates for many metals (Graedel et al.,… Read More »

The lifetime of materials in the technosphere

By | 29th October 2017

We often hear the claim that metals can be recycled indefinitely often, without loss of quality.*) Unfortunately, this claim is not true and the myth of perfect and indefinite recycling needs to be busted. The reasons are that a) our waste management industries cannot perfectly separate the different metal fractions from the waste streams, so… Read More »

Wanted: Lead Indicators for the Circular Economy in Organizations

By | 22nd October 2017

The circular economy now has a guiding standard for its implementation in organizations. It is called BS 8001:2017 ”Framework for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organizations – Guide” and was recently launched by The British Standards Institution (BSI, 2017a, 2017b). After having read it, I am amazed by the level of ambition… Read More »