Using life cycle assessment to achieve a circular economy

Abstract

The current global interest in circular economy (CE) opens an opportunity to make society’s consumption and production patterns more resource efficient and sustainable. However, such growing interest calls for precaution as well, as there is yet no harmonised method to assess whether a specific CE strategy contributes towards sustainable consumption and production. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is very well suited to assess the sustainability impacts of CE strategies. This position paper of the Life Cycle Initiative (hosted by UNEP) provides an LCA perspective on the development, adoption, and implementation of CE, while pointing out strengths and challenges in LCA as an assessment methodology for CE strategies.

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Acknowledgements

The Life Cycle Initiatives acknowledges the reviewers who were part of the internal review process of this paper: Sven-Olöf Ryding, IVL, Sweden; Alessandra Zamagni, Ecoinnovazione, Italy; Raul Carlsson, RISE, Sweden; Tatiana Vakhitova, Ansys Granta Materials, UK; and Atta Ajayebi, University of Exeter, UK.

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Correspondence to Claudia Peña.

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Communicated by Matthias Finkbeiner.

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Peña, C., Civit, B., Gallego-Schmid, A. et al. Using life cycle assessment to achieve a circular economy. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-020-01856-z

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Keywords

  • Circular economy
  • Circularity
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Complementary methodologies