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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, Manuele Margni

Article (2020)

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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.
Subjects: 1500 Environmental engineering > 1500 Environmental engineering
1600 Industrial engineering > 1600 Industrial engineering
Department: Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering
Research Center: CIRAIG - International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services
CIRANO - Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations
Funders: ArcelorMittal, Hydro-Québec, LVMH, Michelin, Nestlé, OPTEL, Solvay, Total, Umicore
PolyPublie URL: https://publications.polymtl.ca/5310/
Journal Title: Resources, Conservation and Recycling (vol. 162)
Publisher: Elsevier
DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105013
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105013
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2020 13:34
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2022 16:21
Cite in APA 7: 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, 105013. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105013

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