Framework for analysing resource-efficient solutions
Conference contribution, 2016
In a resource-restrained world, the need for an alternative to the current linear flows of materials is more urgent than ever. The take-make-waste practices in modern society is unsustainable both for economic and environmental reasons. Circular economy is being presented as a strategy to decrease the use of natural resources, along with other means for resource efficiency (RE).
However, knowledge is limited regarding when solutions aimed to be resource-efficient and effective really lead to the intended outcome.
We present a pilot analytical framework which distinguishes different means for increased RE and enables analysis of under which conditions and for which type of products, sectors and value-chains they are effective. The framework consists of a typology of different means for RE and is intended to help systematise learnings from assessment studies in the field. It is based on the concepts of resource efficiency, circular economy and understanding of different assessment methods such as LCA, LCC and MFA. The typology is delimited to physical measures to increase RE, and does not include different business or administrative means to achieve it.
The framework distinguishes three main means to RE; production efficiency (e.g. increase yields and valorise by-product streams); more efficient use of products (e.g. intensify use, prolong product life, and energy efficiency); closing the loops (e.g. reuse and recycling). Moreover, design was identified as a key-enabler for these measures, along with preconditions categorised into; physical product, product-chain, external, and user behaviour.
To facilitate a systematic literature analysis, four supplementary categories were added to the framework; product characteristics; assessment study characteristics (method and vital assumptions and conditions); results from study; and own conclusions and reflections.
The outcome is an analytical framework, assisting learning from assessment studies and identification of generic conclusions of which means for RE are effective for different products, sectors and value-chains.
closing material loops