ProjectLinCS: Linking circularity metrics at product and society level

Application Areas
LinCS: Linking circularity metrics at product and society level

Circular economy is receiving increasing attention throughout the world. The European Commission argues that it “has no choice but to go for the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy” and has adopted a circular economy package to close product lifecycle loops via reuse and recycling. Despite the focus of governments on circular economy, the environmental impact of this development is currently unclear. Oversimplification of the circular economy might lead to misunderstandings and potential associated consequences of circular economy (e.g. rebound effects, decelerated innovation) need to be included in the assessment.

This project will study the environmental impact of product circularity and circular business models where products are recirculated via reuse, refurbishment, remanufacturing, or recycling at individual (i.e. micro) level. It aims to first understand the conditions needed for a circular model to be sustainable and then to complement this with and understanding of the economic performance of circular business models. This then allows the assessment of the macro level impacts of transitioning to a circular economy, taking into account potential secondary effects, such as changes in consumption (i.e. rebound effects). Both micro- and macro-level indicators will be developed that are complementary to each other and together provide a comprehensive way to monitor the environmental benefits of circular products and society.

The research questions addressed in this project are:
● What factors / variables impact the environmental performance of circular products / circular business models?
● Under what circumstances / conditions are circular products / business models environmentally and economically preferred compared to linear ones?
● How can circular business models be improved in order to be sustainable?
● What are suitable indicators to monitor the environmental effects of the circular economy at the micro and macro level ?
● Which policies need to be introduced/altered that prevent/reduce the proliferation of unsustainable CE and support sustainable CE products?

The project is a collaboration between RISE Viktoria and IVL, runs from January 2018 to December 2020 and is funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket).