Session 14 - Sustainability Assessment and Evaluation of Natural Resources use in a Circular Economy

Convener - Dominik Moest, Jochen Schanze, Sasha Koo-Oshima

Speaker Titel Abstract Kind of presentation
Julia Terrapon-Pfaff The energy transition and its long-term implications for the direct global and regional water demand for electricity generation  Electricity generation requires water for cooling, cleaning processes and power plant operation. With the global demand for electricity expected to increase significantly in the coming decades the water demand in the power sector is also expected to rise. Particularly in regions affected by water stress, the increasing demand for water to generate electricity can become critical and at the same time the electricity generation itself can be negatively affected by reduced water availability. In light of these challenges a deeper understanding of future water demands for electricity generation is required. However, with the on-going energy transition the future structure of the power supply and therewith also the future water demand for power generation is subject to high levels of uncertainty because the water intensity of electricity generation varies significantly depending on the generation technology as well as the cooling system applied. The objective of the presented research is therefore to explore the implications of the global energy transition for the direct global and regional water demand for electricity generation. To this end, a comparative assessment approach is applied to systematically analyse a range of global energy scenarios in regard to their impact on the direct water demand for electricity generation until 2040. The results show that different decarbonisation strategies for the electricity sector can lead to widely varying water needs. Saving greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) does not necessarily lead to a reduction in water demand. At the same time, it becomes apparent that not only the choice of energy sources but also the type of power plant and cooling system can significantly influence water demand for electricity generation. These findings underline that in order to achieve a sustainable energy transition not only GHG emission reductions but also water requirements of future energy systems have to be taken into account. Oral (normal length)
Andrea Müller Sustainability assessment for a circular economy: the case of water reuse  Circular economy points towards supporting sustainable development by reducing the resources demand and adding value to waste, among other features. Water reuse is an important subject in this respect, where the circular economy perspective advocates the change of the view on wastewater from waste to a source of water, nutrients and energy (i.e. back to a resource). Sustainability assessments can be means of quantifying the overall effects of water reuse measures. The aim of this contribution is to present the structure of a sustainability assessment tailored to water reuse. The structure of the assessment is set according to the triple bottom line with social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. A multi-layer and lane-based approach built on an indicator set is the basis of the analysis. This approach organises the information used in the assessment. For instance, how is the “acceptance of water reuse” in the social layer reflected in and linked to the economic dimension, e.g. in the “charged fee for wastewater treatment”. It also allows to find relevant crosscutting aspects between dimensions (e.g. “willingness to pay”). All the different aspects (crosscutting and not) related to indicators are structured in an evaluation grid. Again, the triple bottom line is used to categorise these indicators which are later compared to specific thresholds. This way, the analysis provides a more comprehensive understanding of the situation that complements the quantitative results of the evaluation. Jointly they offer a holistic view of the water reuse measure. The proposed assessment structure can be seen as the basis for further operationalisation for decision support regarding the design, planification and implementation of water reuse measures. It can also help to comprehensively answer questions about the relation and influence of circular economy on social and environmental aspects and vice versa. Oral (normal length)
Érica Ferraz de Campos SOLAR ENERGY INTO THE NEXUS WATER, ENERGY AND FOOD IN PETROLINA FRUIT CENTER AT BRAZILIAN SEMIARID  Water, energy and food are essential resources for society. Their integrated management, based on the synergies and trade-offs offered by Nexus concept, is determinant in resources conservation and to attend to the demand in the long-term. At Brazilian semiarid Northeast, coexist at Petrolina and Juazeiro cities: the Sobradinho hydropower, with a 4,214 km² flooded area reservoir, and a fruit production center of 223 km², destined to Brazilian and international market. Both human activities depend on the water availability of São Francisco River and Sobradinho reservoir. Although the water demand for irrigation is intense - 348 million m³ in 2016, hydropower generation prevailed as a priority during the extremely dry period from 2012 to 2016. As the Water Agency (ANA) maintained the reservoir outflow in rates above the water stream inflow, the reservoir was led to its minimum levels. The water scarcity during these years caused conflicts as it reduced the hydroelectricity generation while put in risk the human access to water and the fruit production. Since the drought events are frequent and the abundant solar irradiation is a main characteristic of semiarid, one strategy to minimize the conflicts is to combine hydropower and solar power generation. An increasing number of solar projects in this region are being approved in national auctions of electric energy expansion. Moreover, a floating photovoltaic power plant is already being tested inside the Sobradinho reservoir. Therefore, based on the concept of water, energy and food Nexus, the research analyses scenarios of water management if hybrid generation plant (solar complementary to hydroelectricity) is adopted at Sobradinho. The software Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP) is used to model the scenarios. The results are represented in water, energy and food safety indicators to identify the best strategies in integrated resource management to target SDGs 6, 7 and 12. Lightning talk in the session and a poster
Jonathan Morris Moving Towards a Circular Approach for Water Management: Placing Contemporary Research  By 2030 it is estimated that 160% of global total available water will be required to satisfy demand (Lavrnić, Zapater-Pereyra, and Mancini 2017) and 47% of the world’s population expected to be living in high areas of water stress (UNESCO 2017). To ease water demands and scarcity, treated wastewater, particularly from agriculture, could be utilised more widely (Lavrnić, Zapater-Pereyra, and Mancini 2017). At present there lacks a conceptual framework for advancing the idea of a circular view of water within supply chain management that can aid in decision support systems for assessing the efficient and effective water consumption. Research in this field is critical given the increase in global water stresses, exacerbated by the challenges of increasing demand and climate change. Movements towards circularity in water resource usage should be supported by frameworks and assessment tools to guide policy and business practice, and to measure the impacts this usage has on the wider environment, society and economy. As a starting point, there is a need to building on and shape the research agenda in this field. This research conducted a systematic review of 53 journal articles published between 2014 and 2019, where the focus is on the re-use of wastewater. A PESTEL analysis was carried out which highlights how 40% of the publications focused primarily on the technological challenges which are faced in integrating wastewater into water supply, with less focus on social and legal frameworks required to facilitate this shift. A screening of abstracts also showed that less than 10% of articles make explicit reference to the circularity of water as a focus of the article. The relevance of this work fits within sustainable development goals 6, 8 and 12 - ensuring access to water resources, sustainable consumption, production and economic development. Lightning talk in the session and a poster
Reema Mohanty Biomass Supply Chain Sustainability Assessment through Circular Economy for biofuel production  Depletion of fossil fuel and increase in emission of greenhouse gases has led to “Renewable and Sustainable Energy Research”. The purpose of research is to evaluate the sustainability of 2nd generation Biofuel system based on cradle to cradle approach. Previously life cycle analysis addressed the sustainability aspect of biofuel, but it has limited focus on aspects like emissions, water, soil and biodiversity. For this reason, Circular Economy has been introduced which will not only address the Techno-Economic indicators, but also include the environmental and social aspects. The Biofuel system considered here is primarily implemented on transportation sector where the resources are from agro-waste, forest residues and switch grass. The objective is to design a circular economy framework by taking the various stages i.e. (i)Agricultural (ii) Logistics (iii) Processes (Thermochemical, Biological etc.) and key stakeholders into consideration. The major challenges faced due to shift from fossil fuel to Biofuel is (i) Biomass has moisture content, it is seasonal and degrades with storage (ii) Alternative technologies to convert ligno-cellulosic mass to biofuel is under development and (iii)Determining the most sustainable biofuel supply chain is crucial to attract the investors and policy makers. One of the most effective way is to develop an optimization based approach which will assess each blocks of the system. Particle Swarm optimization (PSO) by far has been proved to be the best optimization approach to solve a heuristic and constraints based mathematical model.Yearly data of biomass resources from Karnataka has been collected for implementation and validation. In the first stage, an economic model has been developed and the results show that profit is zero in the first year, because of the considerable amount of investment on equipments and there is a significant shift in the profit if there is a change in amount of surplus biomass. Lightning talk in the session and a poster
Ronny Meglin Sustainability Assessment of regional Building Material Producers based on Material-Flow-Analysis and Life-Cycle-Assessment  In the building material industry, sustainability concerns are dominated by the role of raw materials, especially in the production of cement and concrete. As raw materials become increasingly scarce globally, challenge for individual companies increase. Traditionally, building materials producer focus on their role as material or resource suppliers. The higher the material turnover, the higher the economic success. This business-model conflicts with the societal goal of increased resource efficiency and circular economy. As locally sourced materials can have significant environmental impacts, the industry deals with conflicting goals between economy and environment. Driven by this challenge, public pressure and stricter regulations, companies start to extend their business models with additional services in waste management and logistics to start a transition towards a sustainable construction industry. To quantify these processes and their ecological impacts, an integrated assessment model needs to be developed. This paper presents an assessment model for environmental and economic impacts in form of environmentally and monetary extended input-output-tables (IOT) based on Material-Flow-Analysis (MFA). The IOT's are used to combine MFA data with additional information on prices of products, services and production factors and estimate factor income (value added) for each process in the production chain. For each process CO2 eq. are estimated to assess the global warming potential (GWP) according IPCC 2013. The LCA-database ecoinvent provides standard datasets of cement, gravel, concrete and construction waste in Switzerland. Results highlight the activities in the life cycle most relevant for generating value added, creating jobs, causing emissions and consuming natural resources. This provides an improved basis for decision-making for companies in the construction industry to further develop their circular business models and contributes to achieving SDG 12 "Responsible consumption and production" as well as SDG 9 "Industry, innovation and infrastructure". Oral (normal length)
Rosalie Arendt Criticality assessment of abiotic resource use for Europe– Application of the SCARCE method  Due to current consumption patterns and increasing product complexity, the use of abiotic resources rises and leads to supply risk (criticality) challenges in most countries. For the criticality assessment of abiotic resources utilized in Europe, existing methods do not consider several relevant criticality aspects such as demand growth. Thus, the SCARCE method published in 2017 was applied to determine criticality hotspots of European resource imports. Overall Europe’s criticality is measured with eleven supply disruption categories (e.g. trade barriers, feasibility of exploration projects and political stability) and six vulnerability categories (e.g. economic importance, dependency on imports and primary material use) for 42 materials (including metals, minerals and fossil fuels). Therefore, importing countries were assessed regarding their supply risk and Europe regarding its vulnerability to the supply risk. Next to criticality, also environmental and social hotspot materials are identified. In our assessment, the most critical materials for Europe are petroleum oils, gallium, rare earths and phosphorous, because they have high values in the sub dimensions supply risk (due to high primary material use, high trade barriers and low political stability) and vulnerability (due to high economic importance, importance for future technologies and low substitutability). Social hotspots were tantalum, cobalt and tin, while environmental hotspots were gold, platinum and niobium. When comparing Europe’s results with the global average, the identified hotspots in supply risk and social and environmental performance are similar. Concerning the supply risk, the mining capacity of the countries dominating the current trade relationships by Europe is lower compared to the global production, while the political stability of the currently importing countries is higher compared to the global production. This indicates that Europe might have to develop new trade relations with political unstable countries to meet its domestic material demand. Oral (normal length)
Serena Caucci Sustainability assessment for water reuse in agriculture through sustainability dimensions and indicators lenses  The need for a sustainable development that integrates the environmental, social and economic dimension has been the pillar for the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for promoting sustainable policy actions in a targeted manner. Sustainability assessments provide a powerful tool for translating knowledge into policies and practices. SDG 6 and 12 (clean water & sanitation and responsible consumption & production) have emphasized the importance of a sustainability assessment of water reuse in circular economy especially in agriculture where its activities are responsible for the 70% of the worldwide water abstraction and thus natural resource depletion. In this context, despite the concept of sustainability is well established, its interpretation and application vary in practice. The identification of sustainability levels of water reuse through the lenses of indicators and factors used globally for can thus highlight the gaps and initiate newer paths for a truly holistic sustainability assessment of water reuse in agriculture. With this presentation we will focus on the dimensionality of the assessments, the boundary levels in which sustainability indicators are applied. This global study will also focus on the demo-geography of the regions in which water reuse is applied in agriculture and whether it could affect sustainability assessment criteria. The ease and simplicity of applicability are characteristics that makes indicator-based assessment attractive. The establishment of a standard set of holistic sustainability indicator factors that are generally accepted could be the initial step forward to test sustainability assessment of water reuse in agriculture globally thus contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. Lightning talk in the session and a poster
Stefan Pauliuk Material efficiency and its contribution to climate change mitigation in Germany – A scenario analysis until 2060.  Germany is likely to miss its 2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions, which foresees a 40 % reduction relative to the 1990 level. A change of the industrial landscape and a partial transformation of the energy supply sector have contributed to reductions so far, but now that the low hanging fruits have been harvested, a more profound transformation of the country’s industrial metabolism is needed. Energy efficiency is a prominent and well established emissions mitigation strategy, but the same cannot be said for material efficiency, which includes measures such as product light-weighting, lifetime extension, or more intense use. Earlier industrial ecology research has shown that the energy, material, and emissions savings potential of material efficiency can be substantial, but the material efficiency potential of most world economies, including the German economy, have not been estimated yet, nor has a strong link between material efficiency and climate change mitigation been established. We studied three large economic sectors using a prospective stock-driven material flow analysis for Germany, covering the time span 2015-2060: passenger vehicles, residential buildings, and commercial and service buildings. We included the climate-relevant bulk materials concrete, steel, timber, aluminium, and plastics and studied the potential impact of ten resource and material efficiency strategies, with more intense use, light-weighting, lifetime extension, and re-use being the most prominent ones. We present estimates of the material efficiency potential for these sectors in Germany and the potential impact of widely applied material efficiency on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. We propose a number of policy-relevant conclusions that could help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon and circular economy. The assessment work makes use of ODYM, a new open and modular framework for dynamic material flow analysis. The research applies a modular, open, and reproducible design, thus contributing to open science in industrial ecology. Oral (normal length)
Ralf-Uwe Syrbe The monitoring of ecosystems and their services as a new integral part of the Environmental Economic Accounting in Germany  The increasing pressure on natural resources and the loss of biodiversity puts the capability of ecosystems at risk to provide the basis of life and national economies. In order to not overlook and counter such risky developments, the changing stocks of natural assets have to be integrated into the environmental economic accounting. An according improvement of political steering would only be achievable if a possible economic growth by destruction of natural goods became visible in the indices. Following the aims of EU biodiversity strategy and the international guidelines of SEEA-EEA (System of Environmental Economic Accounting - Experimental Ecosystem Accounting), first monitoring approaches and indicator developments have been elaborated in Germany. Using the case studies namely recreation in urban green spaces and habitat values, the challenges and possible solutions will be shown starting with physical figures and translating them into economic values for ecosystem services in Germany. The assessment and valuation methods and preliminary results will be presented. The contribution discusses a recent roadmap to measure and integrate ecosystem extents, conditions and services into the national accounting system. The project will explain that ecosystem-services are a relative new category of natural resources and benefits in the context of a circular economy. Oral (normal length)
Catalina Spataru An index to measure the progress of islands towards circular economy  Circular economy account for a circular system where all materials are recycled, all energy comes from renewables; resources are used to generate values and activities support healthy societies and ecosystems. This study focuses on analysis of indicators of natural resource use that may be utilise for monitoring progress towards a circular economy in islands. To achieve a circular economy it requires continuous monitoring of economic, social and environmental impacts through evaluation tools such as indicators. The indicators are metric measures of circular economy development, which help provides guidelines for decision makers to further develop and assess the effectiveness of various decision makers. This paper describes an index theoretical tool for islands communities to accelerate the transition towards circular economy by addressing the interlinkages between water, energy, land, materials and food resources usage, working across sectors. The tool will help to quantify the trade-offs and feedbacks between resources and the principles of circular economy. We argue that to capture the possible trade-offs between resources in islands we need to consider the issues of long-term compatible action in the short-run, which is key when it comes to resource use planning and environmental inter-generational equity. Lightning talk in the session and a poster
Monia Niero Unintended side-effects from Circular Economy policies and practices: linking production and consumption systems  According to the literature one of the most important questions for circular economy (CE) in terms of long-term sustainable development goals is how can the saved resources and money generated by the CE framework be directed to sustainable consumption practices. However, most studies on CE focus on the production side and limited attention has been posed to how consumption and consumers would affect or be affected by CE. Applying CE strategies to production systems could lead to unintended consequences due to shifts in both production and consumption. This paper focuses on undesired side-effects of CE, including both indirect unintended consequences leading to shifts in consumption and the so-called CE rebounds defined as indirect effects which might happen when CE activities, which have a lower per-unit-production impacts, also cause increased levels of production, reducing their benefits. Drawing on literature and case studies, this contribution explores and categorizes potential undesired side-effects from a selected number of European CE policies and business initiatives. We address some of the challenges related to the transition from a linear to a CE, by acknowledging that such transition requires a fundamental change in both production and consumption systems, and the way they meet social and ecological livelihood and well-being. It is therefore of utmost importance to analyze how the CE framework is capable of realizing novel relations among social, ecological and technical systems to support radical transitions in important sectors such as food, energy water and waste. In our analysis of undesired side-effects, we complement other studies by applying perspectives from Science and Technology Studies, in particular Actor Network Theory and Practice Theory. We do this with the aim of discussing how potential undesired side effects from CE can be categorized and ultimately avoided through complementary policies and business initiatives that are informed by these perspectives. Lightning talk in the session and a poster