Circular Economy: Practices, knowledgebases and novelty

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Abstract

The aim of this article is to provide a critical theoretical discussion of the knowledge basis for the concept of the circular economy (CE), drawing on examples from emerging practices and existing knowledge and discussions. The analysis includes examples from three fields of application:
(1) the macro level, where the CE concept is used as a basis for the formulation of general policies, with examples from the EU; (2) the meso level, where the concept is applied to inform businesses and policymakers on how to design industrial systems in order to create closed-loop production and consumption systems, with examples from interactions between the agriculture and the energy sectors in Denmark, using a biogas case, and; (3) the micro level, where the CE concept is deployed to assist individual companies in the design of products and manufacturing processes. Based upon a detailed discussion of decades of research and the practical experiences with three other fields of environmental research, the novelty of the CE concept is critically evaluated against three main academic schools of thought, as outlined in the: (1) cleaner production literature, (2) industrial ecology literature and (3) cradle-to-cradle literature. he paper concludes that the CE concept revitalizesexisting concepts rather than bringing essentially new tools, strategies and knowledge to the table.Finally, the paper elaborates on the knowledge gaps and future use of the CE concept, with specialattention to stakeholder involvement, co-innovation and transdisciplinary research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies
Volume18
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)2-16
ISSN1602-2297
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Circular economy
  • Industrial ecology
  • Cleaner production
  • Cradle-to-cradle
  • 12 Responsible consumtion and production (UN SDG)

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