Measuring the Environmental Impact of the Circular Economy Concepts using the Example of Steel Tools

Measuring the Environmental Impact of the Circular Economy Concepts using the Example of Steel Tools

by: Wiebke Hagedorn1,2, Martin Faulstich1,2, Kathrin Greiff1,3, Katrin Bienge (presenting author)3

1: INZIN, Germany; 2: TU Clausthal; 3: Wuppertal Institute


The increasing interest in the Circular Economy is shown in the political uptake in form of directives such as the ecodesign directive of the European Commission (EC). The Circular Economy promises less and slower resource consumption as well as closed-loop supply chains, which result in reduced environmental impacts and pressure because of resource scarcity. Still, practical examples are missing to assess the actual influence of implemented circular concepts like the 10 R. Measuring the environmental and economic impact of circular activities is crucial for substantiated decision-making in companies.

The focus of the poster presents reflections and provides suggestions how to cope with the complexity of the assessment of circularity and sustainability on the product-level. The literature shows an increasing number of indicators as Saidani (2018) showed with the taxonomy developed within his study, which considered 55 circular indicators (Pauliuk). However, they are diverse in their alignment. The question remains, which indicators are suitable to map comprehensively the change in terms of environmental impact on the micro-level, but also are attractive to use in terms of data availability and practicability? The latter is important when it comes to the application in companies. The study presented here analyses existing methods and their suitability for the environmental assessment of circular economy concepts applied to products. Especially the material flow analysis, the life cycle assessment and circularity indicators are considered.

The material flows analysis (MFA) is in first place valuable to completely understand the altered resource flows. Circularity indicators are developed for the environmental and economic analysis based on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). In the second part of the investigation, the presented findings are applied to a heavy-duty vehicle i.e. waste collection vehicle to demonstrate the implementation of the circular economy concepts and its effects. The results are expected for summer 2020 and thus a possible contribution for the next conference.