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See detailThe implementation of Circular Economy policies: A challenge for institutions and practices
Hild, Paula UL

Scientific Conference (2018, June 14)

Since 2014, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s national policy aims at transitioning the national economy from a linear to a circular model. However, we do not know so far how the different socio-economic ... [more ▼]

Since 2014, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s national policy aims at transitioning the national economy from a linear to a circular model. However, we do not know so far how the different socio-economic actors in the country deal with this new political vision. Thus, the overall aim of the CIRCULUX research project is to analyse the effectiveness of the circular economy policy in Luxembourg by studying institutions and practices in businesses. In this way, we follow authors who claim for the systematic inclusion of institutions into the analysis of policy effectiveness (Glückler and Lenz, 2016). We assume that institutions explain sectoral differences in the efficacy of circular economy policies, in analogy to Bathelt and Glückler (2014) who state that in a comparative study, institutions enable to clarify regional differences. Focusing on two different industries, the building sector and the automotive supply industry, we hope to explore the variety of circular economy practices, and therefore as well theoretical and pragmatic implications between the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). The research follows a qualitative research approach, including documentary analysis, up to 20 exploratory and around 50 semi-structured expert interviews. We intend to capture different dimensions of the motivations and barriers of companies for shifting towards circularity, by triangulation of these three datasets. In the analysis of data, we consider different levels and emphasise on three points highlighted by various authors for a need for further consideration. The first aspect focus on the socio-cultural specificities of Luxembourg and related challenges for the implementation of a circular economy (e.g., the mix of technical standards, multilingualism, corporate cultures). The second aspect covers the internal dynamics of actor networks and hybrid organisations that aim to bring circular economy theory into practice (Schulz and Preller, 2016). Moreover, the third aspect deals with the articulation between sustainability effectiveness and the cost from the perspectives of various stakeholders (Ruparathna and Hewage, 2015). The preliminary results put forward the interdependence of the actors’ perception of what would mean a circular economy model for Luxembourg. They also reveal the firm’s specific role in this system. The decision of a business actor to implement a circular economy practice depends primarily on its return on investment, the general regulatory pressure and the maturity of the industry and the company. In general, the hindrance for circularity is not the absence of a technological or technical solution. Interviews with experts from the business sector reveal that notably economic factors are hindering circularity in companies. Besides, the maturity of the firm given its awareness for concepts like the circular economy, sustainable development, or sustainability shapes its vision for the future in this field actively. As a push for action, interviewees suggested a regulatory framework for circularity. [less ▲]

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See detailLife cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis approach for the selection of building components according to their environmental impact efficiency: a case study for external walls
Iribarren, Diego; Marvuglia, Antonino; Hild, Paula UL et al

in Journal of Cleaner Production (2015), 87

Environmental criteria have to be taken into account when it comes to selecting a specific building component among a set of candidates with the same function. This article presents a methodological ... [more ▼]

Environmental criteria have to be taken into account when it comes to selecting a specific building component among a set of candidates with the same function. This article presents a methodological approach – based on both Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) – for the selection of building components according to their environmental impact efficiency. A three-step LCA + DEA approach is proposed and tested through a case study for 175 external walls. The three steps of this approach involve data collection, life cycle impact assessment, and DEA of the sample of building components using environmental impacts as DEA inputs. Overall, from the availability of multiple data on the material and energy flows of each building component, the method provides decision makers with eco-efficiency scores and environmental benchmarks. A cautious definition of the set of candidates is critical, as relative efficiency scores are calculated. Data availability and functional homogeneity regarding the building components evaluated are the key requirements for the general use of the method. The three-step LCA + DEA approach proposed is proven to be a useful method to enhance decision making and environmental benchmarking in the building sector. [less ▲]

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See detailUsing atmospheric plasma to design multilayer film from polylactic acid and thermoplastic starch: a screening Life Cycle Assessment
Benetto, Enrico; Jury, Collin; Igor, Elorri et al

in Journal of Cleaner Production (2015), 87

The accumulation of plastic waste and the increasing awareness of the environmental implications and technical challenges associated to their treatment and recycling have led to a constant increase of ... [more ▼]

The accumulation of plastic waste and the increasing awareness of the environmental implications and technical challenges associated to their treatment and recycling have led to a constant increase of biopolymers market in the 90's. Polylactic acid (PLA) is one of the most promising biodegradable plastics, showing a wide range of potential applications, e.g. in the packaging industry. However, the high production costs hamper its further development. The use of PLA in multilayer (ML) films is a potential opportunity to reduce the production costs. This study tackled the ecodesign of a clam shell for packaging applications based on a novel ML film made of PLA and thermoplastic starch (TPS), evaluating the environmental performance of different design concepts through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). In order to assure proper compatibility between PLA and TPS, the use of dielectric barrier discharge (dbd) plasma technology at atmospheric pressure to increase the hydrophilicity of PLA was investigated. The results have highlighted the significant contribution of plasma treatment to the overall environmental impact of the ML film and the need for further optimisation. Despite the contribution of the PLA end-of-life phase to the overall environmental impact of the ML clam shell is low, the methodological approach to end-of-life can have a significant influence on the LCA results. This seems to be due to the low PLA recycling and recovery rate assumed, which is nevertheless realistic. The promotion of high recovery and recycling rates should therefore be a priority in the future. At the current development stage, even the most improved ML clam shell concept obtained using atmospheric plasma technology is not an environmentally sound alternative to pure PLA clam shell, although it is likely to be a cost-effective option. A good compromise between cost and environmental constrains to be further investigated could be to increase further the proportion of PLA in the ML, by improving the water adsorption capability of TPS through, e.g., the addition of a phthalate free plasticiser. [less ▲]

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See detailEcological deficit and use of natural capital in Luxembourg from 1995 to 2009
Rugani, Benedetto; Roviani, Davide; Hild, Paula UL et al

in Science of the Total Environment (2014), 468-469

Scarcity of natural resources and productive land is a global issue affecting the provision of goods and services at the country scale. This is particularly true for small regions with highly developed ... [more ▼]

Scarcity of natural resources and productive land is a global issue affecting the provision of goods and services at the country scale. This is particularly true for small regions with highly developed economies such as Luxembourg, which usually balance the chronic unavailability of resources (in particular with regard to fossil fuels) with an increasing demand of imported raw materials, energy and manufactured commodities. Based on historical time-series analysis (from 1995 to 2009), this paper determines the state of natural capital (NC) utilization in Luxembourg and estimates its ecological deficit (ED). Accordingly, solar energy demand (SED) and ecological footprint (EF) for Luxembourg have been initially calculated based on a recently developed country-specific environmentally extended input–output model. Thereafter, these indicators have been compared to the corresponding annual trends of potential NC (estimated using the emergy concept) and biocapacity, respectively. Results show that the trends in ED and in the use of NC in Luxembourg have not increased substantially during the years surveyed. However, the estimates also highlight that the NC of Luxembourg is directly and indirectly overused by a factor higher than 20, while circa 9 additional ‘Luxembourg states' would be ideally necessary to satisfy the current land's requirements of the country and thus balance the impact induced by the EF. An in-depth analysis of the methodological advantages and limitations behind our modelling approach has been performed to validate our findings and propose a road map to improve the environmental accounting for NC and biocapacity in Luxembourg. [less ▲]

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See detailAnalysis of complementary methodologies to assess the environmental impact of Luxembourg’s net consumption
Jury, Colin; Rugani, Benedetto; Hild, Paula UL et al

in Environmental Science & Policy (2013), 27

The choice of accounting methods and indicators to support national stakeholders and public authorities in environmental decision-making policies is made difficult by the extensive number of available ... [more ▼]

The choice of accounting methods and indicators to support national stakeholders and public authorities in environmental decision-making policies is made difficult by the extensive number of available tools and the general divergence of scientific opinions on their effectiveness. In this paper, a set of life cycle-based approaches are compared and a methodological framework is recommended to support policy makers in the evaluation and choice of environmental impact mitigation strategies. The net consumption (=production + imports exports) of Luxembourg, taken as a case study, is inventoried based on different Environmentally Extended Input–Output (EE-IO) scenarios and further assessed using the Ecological Footprint (EF), ReCiPe and Solar Energy Demand (SED). All the compartments of resources extraction and pollutant emissions and the main environmental impacts gener- ated by the Luxembourgish economic trade-offs are evaluated. Results highlight the need for higher consistency in the use of EE-IO tables mainly because of the uncertainty affecting the environmental extensions (EEs). This aspect plays a major role when applying different assessment methods and relevant changes in terms of overall environmental impact are observed according to different sets of resources and emissions inventoried. These changes, however, do not substantially influence the results at the level of single economic sector’s contribution. Regardless the consumption scenario and the indicator considered, the financial and banking sectors contribute to more than 40% to the total EF, SED and ReCiPe results. Strengths and weaknesses of each indicator are discussed, and direct and indirect contribution analyses by sector allowed outlining strategies for impact mitigation. [less ▲]

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See detailtrend Analysis and interpretation of Luxembourg’s consumption Footprint NFA 2010 edition, data years 2000 – 2007
Hild, Paula UL; Takagi, Aya; Schmitt, Bianca

Report (2012)

The Ecological Footprint methodology by Global Footprint Network measures human consumption of products and services from different ecosystems in terms of the amount of bioproductive land and sea area ... [more ▼]

The Ecological Footprint methodology by Global Footprint Network measures human consumption of products and services from different ecosystems in terms of the amount of bioproductive land and sea area needed to supply these products and services. In other words, the Ecological Footprint calculates the land area needed to produce food, provide resources, produce energy, and absorb the CO2 emissions generated by the supply chains within one year at country level. For the calculations of Luxembourg’s Ecological Footprint, international statistical databases are used to identify the quantities of produced, imported and exported goods and services. Then, Global Footprint Network applies different factors to the quantities to assess the area needed to supply these products and services. Finally, the Consumption Footprint of a nation is divided by the number of inhabitants and compared to other countries at a per capita level (global hectares per capita). This means that the Ecological Footprint can be used as an indicator for the sustainability of a national consumption by assessing human land uses. In the following paragraph, Luxembourg’s Ecological Footprint is discussed in the framework of the environmental indicators of Luxembourg’s competitiveness scoreboard (see Table 9) [MECE, 2010]. Luxembourg’s ranking is rather low for all of the scoreboard indicators: number of ISO 9001 certifications per billion of inhabitants (21 out of 27); number of ISO 14001 certifications per billion of inhabitants (15 out of 27); total greenhouse gas emissions (15 out of 27); renewable energy ration (23 out of 27); quantity of municipal waste per capita per year (24 out of 27); energetic intensity (8 out of 27); transport by car (17 out of 27); Ecological Footprint in gha per capita per year (27 out of 27). Based on the environmental competiveness scoreboard indicators, it can be concluded that in general, Luxembourg’s environmental performance is low compared to the other countries of the European Union. With respect to Luxembourg’s Ecological Footprint, it can be said that Luxembourg’s consumption is not sustainable. The number of planets that would be needed if the world's population lived like the population of Luxembourg in 2007 is about six. However, per year, the biocapacity (bioproductive land) of the planet can only regenerate once. [less ▲]

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See detailEnvironmental indicators for the evaluation of consumption patterns: the case of Luxembourg
Hild, Paula UL; Mey, Morgane; Jury, Colin et al

Speeches/Talks (2010)

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See detailAn agenda for establishing the Ecological Footprint as communication instrument and indicator for sustainable development in small countries: Case study Luxembourg
Hild, Paula UL; Schmitt, Bianca; Morgane, Mey et al

Poster (2010, June)

The Ecological Footprint methodology proposed by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) seems to be not entirely appropriate for small countries with less than one million inhabitants [Ewing et al., 2008 ... [more ▼]

The Ecological Footprint methodology proposed by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) seems to be not entirely appropriate for small countries with less than one million inhabitants [Ewing et al., 2008]. This may be a reason why e.g. results for Luxembourg, a country with 470,000 inhabitants, have never been included into official country Footprint comparisons. Therefore, the methodology needs to be adapted to be used for communication purpose in Luxembourg. This contribution presents Luxembourg’s approach for illustrating the national consumption impacts to finally discuss the integration of the Ecological Footprint as an indicator for sustainable development in the national indicator system. [less ▲]

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