Analyzing how governance of material efficiency affects the environmental performance of product flows: A comparison of product chain organization of Swedish and Dutch metal packaging flows
Journal article, 2017

Environmental governance is commonly performed through recycling, but its effects are often difficult to predict. Studies have covered the environmental impacts and organizational structures of recycling and other circular economy governance, but only to a small degree related organization to environmental performance. We have therefore explored a methodological contribution for better understanding. We have applied and tested a hybrid, socio-material, approach, a product chain organization (PCO) study, in a comparison of governance of metal packaging product flows in Sweden and the Netherlands. A PCO study is a systematic and nuanced exploration of how nets of actions and actors shape environmental impacts. We identified that the policies in the two countries have focused on combined recycling rates, which has indicated superior Dutch governance. We, however, have discerned how various actions have been environmentally relevant, regarding inaccurate statistics, combining of waste streams, and consumption. We conclude that the test case on packaging shows how a PCO study can complement other approaches with a nuanced understanding of the environmental effects of governance toward a circular economy.

circular economy

life cycle assessment (LCA)


comparative studies






Mathias Lindkvist

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Henrikke Baumann

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis


2313-4321 (eISSN)

Vol. 2 4 1-22

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Management

Economics and Business



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