Circular economy is a strategy for sustainable production and waste management. However, a definition of reliable metrics to evaluate its performance and identification of conditions in which it leads to sustainable development are open fields of research. The aim of this study is to assess the role of the main existing tools related to circular economy, namely industrial ecology, life cycle thinking, and flow analysis, to monitor local outcomes of circular patterns and to evaluate the sustainability of different policies in the waste sector. The objective is to conduct a complete evaluation at the national level to achieve a comprehensive picture. A systematic analysis of 609 scientific papers on waste management in Italy, in the last 10 years, was conducted. The study first investigates the bibliometric tendencies of the selected publications, as well as the methods, topics, and integration of existing tools. The Italian literature is critically explored and some suggestions on five existing controversial aspects of circular economy patterns are given. Results show that some circular economy policies may lead to small environmental gains that may be regrettably reduced or nullified by rebound effects or social behaviour. This review highlights that life cycle thinking can be a promising tool to assess the multidisciplinary effects of policies and evaluate circular economy characteristics both operatively and strategically. These results provide guidance for policymakers, academic researchers, and stakeholders with regard to evaluating the overall sustainability of strategies. Moreover, this review suggests some future research directions to move toward sustainable reduction of environmental impacts.

Assessing environmental sustainability of local waste management policies in Italy from a circular economy perspective. An overview of existing tools

Sara Toniolo;
2021-01-01

Abstract

Circular economy is a strategy for sustainable production and waste management. However, a definition of reliable metrics to evaluate its performance and identification of conditions in which it leads to sustainable development are open fields of research. The aim of this study is to assess the role of the main existing tools related to circular economy, namely industrial ecology, life cycle thinking, and flow analysis, to monitor local outcomes of circular patterns and to evaluate the sustainability of different policies in the waste sector. The objective is to conduct a complete evaluation at the national level to achieve a comprehensive picture. A systematic analysis of 609 scientific papers on waste management in Italy, in the last 10 years, was conducted. The study first investigates the bibliometric tendencies of the selected publications, as well as the methods, topics, and integration of existing tools. The Italian literature is critically explored and some suggestions on five existing controversial aspects of circular economy patterns are given. Results show that some circular economy policies may lead to small environmental gains that may be regrettably reduced or nullified by rebound effects or social behaviour. This review highlights that life cycle thinking can be a promising tool to assess the multidisciplinary effects of policies and evaluate circular economy characteristics both operatively and strategically. These results provide guidance for policymakers, academic researchers, and stakeholders with regard to evaluating the overall sustainability of strategies. Moreover, this review suggests some future research directions to move toward sustainable reduction of environmental impacts.
Industrial ecology
Life cycle assessment
Circular business models
Circular economy
Life Cycle Assessment
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1055734
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