Safe and Sustainable: Optimizing Material Flows in a Circular Economy

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    Abstract

    Increasing the sustainability of a globally connected economy is gaining wide attention in a world with limited natural resources and growing chemical pollution. The circular economy has emerged as away to reduce carbon and other emissions, while increasing resource efficiency over several product life cycles.However, a circular economy is only viable if it is both safe and sustainable. The dilemma is that sustainable does not necessarily imply safe and vice versa. When minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals in consumer products (safe), we often use more energy-demanding alternative solutions (unsustainable). When maximizing resource use efficiency and reducing carbon and other emissions through recycling (sustainable), direct consumer exposure is often increased through cross-contamination of recycled materials (unsafe). Hence, circular economy currently fails to unite the required expertise to imultaneously increase sustainability and reduce exposure to chemicals in materials reused across life cycles of different products. For a way out of this dilemma, a paradigm shift is needed towards a comprehensive and quantitative assessment framework.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventSustain-ATV Conference 2016: Creating Technology for a Sustainable Society - Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
    Duration: 30 Nov 201630 Nov 2016
    http://www.sustain.dtu.dk/about/sustain-2016

    Conference

    ConferenceSustain-ATV Conference 2016
    LocationTechnical University of Denmark
    CountryDenmark
    CityKgs. Lyngby
    Period30/11/201630/11/2016
    Internet address

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