A trade-off navigation framework as a decision support for conflicting sustainability indicators within circular economy implementation in the manufacturing industry

Mariia Kravchenko*, Daniela C. A. Pigosso, Tim C. McAloone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Integration of sustainability criteria from a triple bottom line perspective is considered a challenge for manufacturing actors, who are engaged in developing sustainability-oriented initiatives. The earlier in the development process the criteria are integrated and sustainability potential is evaluated, the more opportunities exist to introduce improvements and select an initiative with a highest sustainability potential. The challenge does not only lie in understanding what sustainability criteria to use to assess sustainability performance, but in managing conflicting results, known as trade-offs. Trade-offs are situations characterized by conflicts between the desired objectives, where it is impossible to satisfy all criteria simultaneously. Although sustainability trade-offs are common, there is a gap in the existing approaches for sustainability measurements to support tradeoff dialogue and decision-making. If trade-offs are not acknowledged, there is a risk of accepting an initiative leading to sub-optimizations or higher impacts. Therefore, this study proposes a framework to support trade-off analysis in the early development stages of sustainability-oriented initiatives. The trade-off navigation framework relies on input data and a structured guidance, with the twofold objective: (i) help making trade-offs explicit, and (ii) provide a structured approach to support trade-off analysis and acceptability in a transparent manner. The purpose is to encourage a dynamic decision process and reinforce the knowledge of decision-makers about potential risks and opportunities behind their choices. Using a case of a product development involving CE principles, this paper discusses how a trade-off navigation framework was applied and evaluated by industrial and academic experts, leading to its improvement and identification of strengths and limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number314
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume13
Issue number1
Number of pages26
ISSN2071-1050
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Triple bottom line
  • Ttrade-offs
  • Decision support
  • Early development stages
  • Business process

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