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Title: Metrics for optimising the multi-dimensional value of resources recovered from waste in a circular economy: A critical review
Authors: Iacovidou, E
Velis, CA
Purnell, P
Zwirner, O
Brown, A
Hahladakis, J
Millward-Hopkins, J
Williams, PT
Keywords: metrics;circular economy;material flow analysis;resource recovery;sustainability assessment;solid waste management;sustainability indicators;multi-dimensional value
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Journal of Cleaner Production, 2017, 166: pp. 910 - 938
Abstract: © 2017 The Authors - Established assessment methods focusing on resource recovery from waste within a circular economy context consider few or even a single domain/s of value, i.e. environmental, economic, social and technical domains. This partial approach often delivers misleading messages for policy- and decision-makers. It fails to accurately represent systems complexity, and obscures impacts, trade-offs and problem shifting that resource recovery processes or systems intended to promote circular economy may cause. Here, we challenge such partial approaches by critically reviewing the existing suite of environmental, economic, social and technical metrics that have been regularly observed and used in waste management and resource recovery systems' assessment studies, upstream and downstream of the point where waste is generated. We assess the potential of those metrics to evaluate ‘complex value’ of materials, components and products, i.e., the holistic sum of their environmental, economic, social and technical benefits and impacts across the system. Findings suggest that the way resource recovery systems are assessed and evaluated require simplicity, yet must retain a suitable minimum level of detail across all domains of value, which is pivotal for enabling sound decision-making processes. Criteria for defining a suitable set of metrics for assessing resource recovery from waste require them to be simple, transparent and easy to measure, and be both system- and stakeholder-specific. Future developments must focus on providing a framework for the selection of metrics that accurately describe (or at least reliably proxy for) benefits and impacts across all domains of value, enabling effective and transparent analysis of resource recovery form waste in circular economy systems.
ISSN: 0959-6526
Appears in Collections:Dept of Life Sciences Research Papers

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