Recycling for a Sustainable Future: Advancing Resource Efficiency through Life Cycle Assessment Resource Indicators

Georgia Psyrri*, Michael Z. Hauschild, Thomas F. Astrup, Ana T.M. Lima

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

While Circular Economy (CE) is promoted as a resource-optimizing strategy, there is a need to ensure a clear and mutual understanding of the goals of CE and the indicators to measure progress. This requires access to assessment tools and methods based on a shared understanding of resources. Through life cycle assessment, the carbon-energy-material nexus of recycling a washing machine is investigated as a case study. We find that circularity efficiencies, such as recycling rates, do not always align with environmental impact, emphasizing the need to consider both aspects,and further elaborate on the disparities between carbon, energy, and material impact indicators. Results support the use of both energy and material impact indicators to avoid trade-offs, however, limitations to consistently operationalize CE require methodological advancements to expand beyond current natural resource stocks. Lastly, large sensitivity and uncertainties related to composition can hamper the comparability and accuracy of LCA resource assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107759
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume209
Number of pages9
ISSN0921-3449
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Circular Economy
  • Resource efficiency
  • Indicators
  • Waste management
  • Impact assessment
  • Dematerialization

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