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Title: Making sense of circular economy
Author: Blomsma, Fenna
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 1782
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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Calls have been voiced to change economic and industrial systems such that they align with sustainable development. One concept, circular economy, has emerged recently as a way to rethink waste and resource management. Within this research circular economy is defined as an umbrella concept that centres on the phenomenon of assessing a collection of resource life-extending strategies. This research explored how practitioners interpret the circular economy concept and how this influenced the enactment of waste and resource management, by use of a tool termed the Circularity Compass that was constructed for this purpose. A qualitative case study approach was followed, where 15 participants were interviewed, covering 23 innovation projects for 19 focal companies. The following seven insights stand out. Participants considered 1) materials and products and in particular parts or modules as playing important roles in establishing what resource life-extending strategies are possible; 2) other flows besides those directly related to the manufacturing of a product, such as material flows co-used with the product as well as energy and information flows, and frequently directed their attention at the infrastructure that facilitates these flows; 3) those strategies that allow for the flexible use of product capacity as valid interpretations of what constitutes a resource life-extending strategy; 4) resource life-extending strategies in sets of two or more, where they were frequently thought of as intimately related to each other; 5) addressing one or more barriers seen as inhibiting appropriate waste and resource management directly, whilst other barriers were subject to assumptions not further explored, or not acted upon in a number of cases; 6) various resource life-extending strategies as possibilities of a proposed intervention, without the need to completely resolve targeted routes; and, lastly, 7) participants experienced difficulties progressing the proposed solutions due to an inability to generate financial and political support.
Supervisor: Tennant, Mike ; Ozaki, Ritsuko Sponsor: Imperial College London ; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral