• 15 January 2021

    Industrial Ecology and CE

    Industrial Ecology: A foundation for envisioning and measuring the Circular Economy transition By Shyaam Ramkumar – Tondo Associate English Version The concept of a circular economy has been quickly gaining momentum in recent years. Many local and national governments, companies from startups to SMEs to multinational corporations, and a growing number of NGOs such as Tondo are driving the push for a transformation of our current economic model towards one that is more circular, regenerative, and resilient. However, the theoretical and conceptual foundations of the circular economy have a much longer history. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation lists seven different schools of thought that make up the basic tenets of the circular economy, one of which is Industrial Ecology. Industrial Ecology became a prominent concept with the publication of an article by Robert Frosch and Nicholas Gallopoulos in Scientific American titled “Strategies for Manufacturing”. In the article, Frosch and Gallopoulos conceptualize how industrial systems could behave more like ecological systems. Similar to the symbiotic relationships found in nature where wastes of one species are resources for another, they pondered how outputs and wastes from one industry could be inputs into another industry. The field has since evolved to encompass a set of tools and methods that can help transform value chains across cities, regions, and countries to become more circular. These tools and methods can provide a foundation for envisioning and measuring the circular economy transition. Life Cycle Analysis One of the main methods within Industrial Ecology is Life Cycle Analysis, or LCA. Using the LCA methodology, enables the assessment of the environmental impacts across the whole lifecycle of a product, process, or service. The methodology creates a detailed inventory of all the resources, energy, and materials required from extraction and processing to the production, distribution, use, and disposal of the...
  • 25 December 2020

    Two concepts for the same goal?

    By Alessandro Arlati – Research Assistant at HCU, Department of Urban Planning and Regional Development English Version During the last decade, Circular Economy (CE) has more and more affirmed its relevance as a conceptual framework for supporting future sustainable development in our cities. The Ellen McArthur Foundation, as a way to eschew the take-make-waste mentality that has largely characterized our economic systems, defined CE paradigm in 2013. The CE paradigm claims for a change (often referred to as “transition”) from a linear economy, not only by mitigating and adjusting its negative impacts. It implies a more profound systemic shift, aiming at building “long-term resilience, generate business and economic opportunities, and provide environmental and societal benefits”. Yet, CE is not alone in this objective. Many other concepts are paving their way in the attempt of countering the negative impacts of the society we are living in. Among others, Nature-based Solutions (NBS) are becoming a fancy answer to address various societal challenges by imitating nature. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defined the main objective of NBS implementation in its ability to support the achievement of society’s development goals and safeguard human well-being providing simultaneously economic, social and environmental benefits. Now it is worth asking ourselves whether there is a synergy between these two concepts. Looking at the definitions and the objectives that both CE and NBS are aiming at, it does not sound absurd. Furthermore, it is important to mention at this point, that both CE and NBS were included in the EU research and innovation programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020) in 2015. Yet, the series of projects started within these programmes have taken two definite and distinct directions: in other words, the two concepts do not figure out as connected in some way. However, it is possible to identify...
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