Circular economy: opportunities for sustainable resource use
Consumption to zero
Despite technological advances and increased efficiency in the production and use of many goods and services, resource and energy consumption continue to grow. Due to the finite availability of natural resources and the resulting ecological limits to growth, a circularity approach seeks to go beyond gradual efficiency gains by reducing absolute resource consumption to zero. That is, the design, production, and lifecycle of a product are conceived in a way to ensure that all components remain in the loop (or circle) through longevity or reuse as the same or other kinds of products.
Towards new ways of thinking
In this highly dynamic context of implementing circular economy policies, we seek to understand to what extent both firms and individuals actually adopt new ways of thinking and acting in their everyday routines. This inquiry includes the identification of potential barriers to implementation as well as cross-sectoral effects, e.g. how one industry can learn from another. We are also interested in understanding the role of non-corporate actors, particularly local organizations that practice circularity, for example in the sectors of urban farming, food cycles, barter schemes or do-it-yourself and repair initiatives.
The CIRCULAR project
The CIRCULAR project, funded by the National Research Fund Luxembourg (FNR-CORE) from 2017 to 2020, studies circular economy practices in two case study regions, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Västra Götaland region in Sweden, including the city of Gothenburg. Both regions are marked by ongoing economic restructuring as well as rapid population growth and urban development. They are both forerunners in launching ambitious circular economy policies in Europe. In both cases, empirical research focuses on the automotive sector (supply firms), the building industry, and the community sector (i.e. not-for-profit organizations). Preliminary results show different adoptive capacities between the sectors as well as differences between more technology-based developments on the one hand, and more social innovations on the other.