SS5: Circular economy and decoupling

Time: Tuesday, 13 October 2015 (8:00 – 9:50)

Location: Schwarzhorn

Session Chair: Prof. Arnold Tukker, Leiden University and TNO, The Netherlands

Session Chair: Prof. Kiichiro Hayashi, Nagoya University, Japan

Presentations

Modelling the future secondary resource availability and recycling potential of aluminium in Austria

Hanno Buchner, David Laner, Helmut Rechberger, Johann Fellner

Vienna University of Technology

Production of secondary aluminium (Al) currently represents about 70% of total European Al production with a still rising trend and about 50% European final Al demand. The utilization of anthropogenic Al resources as secondary raw materials is therefore a core aspect of moving towards a circular economy, from an ecological as well as from a raw material supply perspective. With respect to Al resource management, dynamic material flow models can be used to understand patterns of Al use, the evolution of Al stocks, and the future availability of Al scrap. In this study, a dynamic aluminium flow model is developed in order to investigate Austrian Al consumption, in-use stocks and post-consumer (old scrap) flows during the last five decades, from 1964 to 2012. It is found, that during the past 20 years Austrian Al in-use stocks have more than doubled up to the level of 360 kg/capita in 2012. Almost two thirds of the Al stock are contained in buildings and transport applications. In recent years, total old scrap generation amount to almost 50% of final Al consumption. Based on the historic Al model and projections of Al consumption until 2050, the future development of in-use stocks and old scrap generation is estimated. An increase of 130% in total old scrap generation is expected compared to the current levels. Modelled trends on scrap generation are finally contrasted with end-use Al demand as well as with industrial scrap demand in order to display the potential for future Al self-supply in Austria. Since improved recycling is a major aspect of European resource policy, opportunities and limits of increasing the domestic supply with domestic Al scrap, through increased collection rates, are shown.

 

Circular Economy and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): how to make circular economy happen

Soledad Contreras, Mark Goedkoop

PRé Consultants, The Netherlands

Circular Economy has positioned as an important vision that is mobilizing business and governments, drawing the big picture and showing the connections (flows and feedbacks) between systems. However, while inspiring there is no clear view if the concepts developed by circular economy thinking are also reducing the environmental impacts. Twenty-five years of experience in LCA have shown that closing loops is not always the best idea, and can even have negative consequences. Therefore what circular economy thinking is missing is a methodology in order to assess the benefits and trade-offs, and there life cycle assessment (LCA) can be the tool to fill the gap. The paper will introduce how through LCA is possible to test impacts of the circular business models, validating its assumptions and giving feedback to them. We will present a few do’s and don’ts that we have learned from LCA, from cases where closing loops makes sense and where it does not, or how, with the same investments or even bigger cost saving much more effective measures can be taken. Second, we will introduce how LCA can help to define targets and indicators to measure impacts of the circularity of products and services and in order to allow a practical implementation in organizations.

 

The regional resource flow model for promoting circular economy at the regional level

Joonas Hokkanen, Riina Känkänen, Heikki Savikko, Ari Sirkiä

Ramboll Finland Ltd, Finland

The regional resource flow model is applicable for examining the resource efficiency on the region level and on different scales varying from regions to urban areas and also smaller local development project areas. Jyväskylä region has been the first in Finland to study the availability of regional resource information, to examine the use of natural resources and to develop a model to illustrate the actual material flows. The regional resource flow model was valid for Jyväskylä region and now it has been expanded to cover also other regions in Finland. It has also clear potential to globally use. The model gives a reliable representation about the interaction between industries in the region, the use of natural resources, the efficiency of regional economy, the employment impacts, the added value and the environmental impacts. The model provides new perspectives and application possibilities to promoting the bioeconomy and circular economy and to the impact assessments of national, regional and local level plans, programs and projects. The model can be used to recognize the importance of companies to the regional economy, employment and environment as well as the role of companies in promoting the circular economy. Resource flows are built into the model based on the regional material flow analysis and environmentally expanded input-output method. The economic and other social benefits can be simulated and made measurable with the model. The life cycle based environmental impact assessment included in the model gives a general view on regional and global impacts, direct point source emissions and indirect impacts that actualize outside the region (life cycle emissions).

 

Substitution of metals in times of potential supply limitations: What are the mitigation options and limitations?

Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir1, Harald Sverdrup1, deniz koca2

1University of Iceland, Iceland; 2University of Lund, Sweden

Global production rates of metals vary from iron at 1.4 billion ton per year to platinum with 200 ton per year. Resource scarcity starts to manifest itself in rising prices and supply limitations, and metal substitution has been a major argument among economists when putting considerations of resource scarcity aside. Here we investigate the potential limits to metal substitution. Present consumption, recycling and irreversible loss rates, as well as the metal balances and properties are examined. Our findings suggest that the major limitations and issues to substitution are: (1) Physical limitations in terms of metal available; it can only take place by a more abundant metal taking partly the place of a metal produced in smaller amounts; (2) Functional limitations based of differences in physical and chemical properties; and (3) By considering substitution options often more energy is needded and larger CO2 emissions occur. Substitution of metals is therefore not going to take the threat of scarcity away; it can only delay us in adapting to the level of sustainable use. The longer we wait, the more we risk squandering resources before we properly conserve our resources from becoming scarce.

 

Finding and offering resource efficient technologies with the Enterprise Europe Network

Ernst-Jan van Hattum

Euresearch, Switzerland

Background EASME, EEN and Euresearch: The Enterprise Europe Network helps ambitious SMEs innovate and grow internationally in the EU and beyond; it is the world’s largest support network for SMEs with close to 600 member organisations in over 53 countries. It supports also other organisations, services are often free of charge and it exists since 2008. The network is organised in sector groups like Environment, Intelligent Energy, Sustainable Construction. The EEN is managed by the EASME. The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises has been set-up by the European Commission to manage on its behalf several EU programmes, including the EEN, but also many environmental, societal or climate funding actions within H2020. In Switzerland, Euresearch and Switzerland Global Enterprise offer professional support services to find technology partners or market your innovation. Euresearch has several examples on resource efficient technologies offers and needs. Finding resource efficient or circular economy related technologies: The first step is to check the EEN cross-sectorial Technology Database with more than 6000 Technology and knowhow Offers, Technology Requests and Research Requests. Technology Offers can be outcomes of EU and national funding schemes. All profiles are tagged with 330 Technology Keywords. If one does not find the wished technology, an own – anonymous – Technology Request can be made with the local EEN. After dissemination of the resource efficient technology need to the other network countries, one will receive the expression of interests via the local EEN to start business as usual. Offering resource efficient or circular economy related innovations: The first step is to check the EEN Technology Database. If one does not find a fitting request, an own (anonymous) Technology Offer can be made. After dissemination of the innovative technology, one will receive the expression of interests via the local EEN to start business as usual.

 

Cool life cycle thinking. Mainstreaming trends and opportunities for national life cycle initiatives creation and expansion

Sonia Valdivia1, Guido Sonnemann2, Sanjeevan Bajaj3

1World Resources Forum, Switzerland; 2University of Bordeaux; 3The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry

Life cycle thinking (LCT) is gaining global recognition as guiding principle for policy development at Governmental and business level. At Rio+20 (2012) Heads of State agreed that Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) is a cornerstone of sustainable development and an important contributor to poverty alleviation and the transition to low-carbon and green economies. This agreement led to the establishment of the 10-Years Framework of Programmes to support the development of national SCP action plans to be based on LCT (UNEP 2012). At business level, there is a growing implementation of LCT to evolve from linear business models, in which products are discarded at the end of their lives, to circular economies models where smart design results in products being repaired, reused, returned and recycled (WorldSteel 2014). The question remains whether LCT is already mainstreaming or not. Based on a global survey commissioned by the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative in 2014, the report (UNEP/SETAC 2015) describes the opportunities for national life cycle (LC) initiatives to mainstream LCT. A special focus is given to 18 selected rapidly growing and emerging economies. The study discusses the levels of LCT mainstreaming conditions based on four criteria: existence of training activities on life cycle assessment (LCA), local capacities, national LC networks, and LCA studies and databases. In case of favorable conditions, signals of growing markets for LC approaches, tools and professionals as well as an increasing uptake of LCT in policies design and circular economy based regulations are perceived. First results show that capacities in industrialized countries are available and in a number of emerging economies are beginning to consolidate, but especially in the latter they remains insufficient. Based on the results, a roadmap for improving the mainstreaming conditions especially in the rapidly growing and emerging economies is proposed.