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Assessing scaling effects of circular economy strategies: A case study on plastic bottle closed-loop recycling in the USA PET market

Geoffrey Lonca, Pascal Lesage, Guillaume Majeau-Bettez, Sophie Bernard and Manuele Margni

Article (2020)

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Cite this document: Lonca, G., Lesage, P., Majeau-Bettez, G., Bernard, S. & Margni, M. (2020). Assessing scaling effects of circular economy strategies: A case study on plastic bottle closed-loop recycling in the USA PET market. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 162, p. 105013. doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105013
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Abstract

The Circular Economy (CE) movement is inspiring new governmental policies along with company strategies. Thisled to the emergence of a plethora ofindicators to quantify the “circularity” of individual companies or products. Approaches behind theseindicators builds mainly on two implicit assumptions. The first is that closing material loops at product level leads to improvements in material efficiency for the economy as a whole. The second assumption is that maximizing material circularity contributes to mitigate environmental impacts. We test these two assumptions at different scales with a case study on the circularity of PETin the USA market. The Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) reveals that closing the material loops at the product level increasesmaterial circularityin one brand and in the USA plastic bottle marketbut not in the USA PET market as a whole. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results reveal that increasing closed loop recycling of PET bottlesis environmentally beneficial from product-level assessment scope. When expanding the scope to the whole PET market, recycling PET into film, fiber and sheet industrial sectors results being more material efficient and environmental preferable, unless the postconsumer reclamation rate is significantly improved. Thus, we demonstrate that adopting a systemic approach for CE assessment is essential ; instead of looking at one particular product and seeking the best circular case with respect to a specific material content, we suggest to looking at the whole set of products served by the specific material, and to seek the best material market-wide circular case.

Open Access document in PolyPublie
Subjects: 1500 Génie de l'environnement > 1500 Génie de l'environnement
1600 Génie industriel > 1600 Génie industriel
Department: Département de mathématiques et de génie industriel
Research Center: CIRAIG - Centre international de référence sur le cycle de vie des produits, procédés et services
CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations
Funders: ArcelorMittal, Hydro-Québec, LVMH, Michelin, Nestlé, OPTEL, Solvay, Total, Umicore
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2020 13:34
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2020 01:20
PolyPublie URL: https://publications.polymtl.ca/5310/
Document issued by the official publisher
Journal Title: Resources, Conservation and Recycling (vol. 162)
Publisher: Elsevier
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105013

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