A Circular Economy of Metals: Towards a Sustainable Societal Metabolism

Start Date: 11/17/2019

Course Type: Common Course

Course Link: https://www.coursera.org/learn/circular-economy-metals

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Course Syllabus

Welcome to the course! This first module aims at introducing you to the main topic of the MOOC and to the teaching staff that you will be seeing throughout the whole course. Before you start with the first lessons we encourage you to have a look at our introductory materials and to introduce yourself in the forum in order to meet your classmates.

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Course Introduction

Metals are present everywhere around us and are one of the major materials upon which our economies

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Circular economy In January 2015 a "Definitive Guide to The Circular Economy" was published by Coara with the specific aim to raise awareness amongst the general population of the environmental problems already being caused by our "throwaway culture". Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE,) in particular, is contributing to excessive use of landfill sites across the globe in which society is both discarding valuable metals but also dumping toxic compounds that are polluting the surrounding land and water supplies. Mobile devices and computer hard drives typically contain valuable metals such as silver and copper but also hazardous chemicals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Consumers are unaware of the environmental significance of upgrading their mobile phones, for instance, on such a frequent basis but could do much to encourage manufacturers to start to move away from the wasteful, polluting linear economy towards are sustainable circular economy.
Circular economy In January 2012, a report was released entitled "Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition". The report, commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and developed by McKinsey & Company, was the first of its kind to consider the economic and business opportunity for the transition to a restorative, circular model. Using product case studies and economy-wide analysis, the report details the potential for significant benefits across the EU. It argues that a subset of the EU manufacturing sector could realise net materials cost savings worth up to $630 billion p.a. towards 2025—stimulating economic activity in the areas of product development, remanufacturing and refurbishment. "Towards the Circular Economy" also identified the key building blocks in making the transition to a circular economy, namely in skills in circular design and production, new business models, skills in building cascades and reverse cycles, and cross-cycle/cross-sector collaboration.
Circular economy The European environmental research and innovation policy aims at supporting the transition to a circular economy in Europe, defining and driving the implementation of a transformative agenda to green the economy and the society as a whole, to achieve a truly sustainable development. Research and innovation in Europe are financially supported by the programme Horizon 2020, which is also open to participation worldwide.
Circular economy externalities acts as a barrier to the transition to a circular economy.
Circular economy The circular economy is a framework that draws upon and encompasses principles from:
Circular economy Cooper (2005) proposed a theoretical model to illustrate the significance of product life span in a progress towards sustainable consumption. The longer product life spans could contribute to eco-efficiency and sufficiency, thus, slowing the consumption in order to progress towards sustainable consumption.
Anthropogenic metabolism Sustainable development is closely linked to the design of a sustainable anthropogenic metabolism, which will entail substantial changes in the energy and material turnover of the different human activities. Anthropogenic metabolism can be seen as synonymous to social or socioeconomic metabolism. It comprises both industrial metabolism and urban metabolism.
Circular economy In a circular economy, prices act as messages, and therefore need to reflect full costs in order
Circular economy Mateusz Lewandowski provides a proposition to address this need to design circular business models and presents a conceptualization of an extended framework called: circular business model canvas (CBMC).The CBMC consists of eleven building blocks, adapted from Osterwalder and Pigneur, encompassing not only traditional components with minor modifications, but also material loops and adaptation factors. Those building blocks allow the designing of a business model according to the principles of circular economy, and consists of:
China's Circular Economy The "Law for the Promotion of the Circular Economy" was passed on August 29, 2008 during the fourth meeting of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress, where it was then implemented into practice on January 1, 2009. The law was outlined as a key strategy in national economic and social development, while promoting resource utilization efficiency, natural environment protection and sustainable development. The law contends that circular economies strategies will be implemented only if it is viable in technology, practical in economy, suitable in saving resources and protecting the environment. The State Council is responsible for the administration of promoting the circular economy, where they must organize, coordinate and regulate national circular economy strategies. Under the law any new industrial policies created by the Government must meet the criteria for promoting a circular economy. Industries must implement management systems that reduce resource usage and waste generation, while improving resource recovery and recycling. Through the "Law for the Promotion of the Circular Economy" the Chinese Government encourages research, development, promotion and international cooperation of science relating to circular economies, as well as supporting the education, publicity and popularization of scientific knowledge. The aim is to give citizens a better sense of better resource saving and environmental protection practices.
Circular economy On 17 December 2012, the European Commission published a document entitled "Manifesto for a Resource Efficient Europe". This manifesto clearly stated that "In a world with growing pressures on resources and the environment, the EU has no choice but to go for the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy." Furthermore, the document highlighted the importance of "a systemic change in the use and recovery of resources in the economy" in ensuring future jobs and competitiveness, and outlined potential pathways to a circular economy, in innovation and investment, regulation, tackling harmful subsidies, increasing opportunities for new business models, and setting clear targets.
Circular economy "The concept of a circular economy (CE) has been first raised by two British environmental economists David W. Pearce and R. Kerry Turner. In "Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment", they pointed out that a traditional open-ended economy was developed with no built-in tendency to recycle, which was reflected by treating the environment as a waste reservoir". The circular economy is grounded in the study of feedback-rich (non-linear) systems, particularly living systems. A major outcome of this is the notion of optimising systems rather than components, or the notion of ‘design for fit’. As a generic notion it draws from a number of more specific approaches including cradle to cradle, biomimicry, industrial ecology, and the 'blue economy’. Most frequently described as a framework for thinking, its supporters claim it is a coherent model that has value as part of a response to the end of the era of cheap oil and materials.
Circular economy The European Commission introduced a Circular Economy proposal in 2015. Historically, the policy debate in Brussels mainly focused on waste management which is the second half of the cycle, and very little is said about the first half: eco-design. To draw the attention of policymakers and other stakeholders to this loophole, the Ecothis.EU campaign was launched raising awareness about the economic and environmental consequences of not including eco-design as part of the circular economy package.
Urban metabolism Working off of Wolman’s pioneering work in the 60’s, environmentalist Herbert Girardet (1996) began to see and document his findings in the connection between urban metabolism and sustainable cities. Girardet laid the foundation for the industrial ecology approach to urban metabolism in which it is seen as the “conversion of nature into society.” Aside from being a great advocate and populariser for urban metabolism, Girardet significantly coined and drew the difference between acircular’ and ‘linear’ metabolism. In a circular cycle, there is nearly no waste and almost everything is re-used. Girardet characterizes this as a natural world process. On the other hand, a ‘linear’ metabolism which is characterized as an urban world process has a clear resource in-put and waste out-put. Girardet emphasizes that the accelerated use of linear metabolisms in urban environments is creating an impending global crisis as cities grow.
Societal attitudes towards abortion Societal attitudes towards abortion have varied throughout different historical periods and cultures. One manner of assessing such attitudes in the modern era has been to conduct opinion polls to measure levels of public opinion on abortion.
Circular economy The generic Circular Economy label can be applied to, and claimed by, several different schools of thought, that all gravitate around the same basic principles which they have refined in different ways. The idea itself, which is centred on taking insights from living systems, is hardly a new one and hence cannot be traced back to one precise date or author, yet its practical applications to modern economic systems and industrial processes have gained momentum since the late 1970s, giving birth to four prominent movements, detailed below. The idea of circular material flows as a model for the economy was presented in 1966 by Kenneth E. Boulding in his paper, The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth. Promoting a circular economy was identified as national policy in China’s 11th five-year plan starting in 2006. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an independent charity established in 2010, has more recently outlined the economic opportunity of a circular economy. As part of its educational mission, the Foundation has worked to bring together complementary schools of thought and create a coherent framework, thus giving the concept a wide exposure and appeal.
Circular economy Created by Walter R. Stahel, a Swiss architect, who graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich in 1971. He has been influential in developing the field of sustainability, by advocating 'service-life extension of goods - reuse, repair, remanufacture, upgrade technologically' philosophies as they apply to industrialised economies. He co-founded the Product Life Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, a consultancy devoted to developing sustainable strategies and policies, after receiving recognition for his prize winning paper 'The Product Life Factor' in 1982. His ideas and those of similar theorists led to what is now known as the circular economy in which industry adopts the reuse and service-life extension of goods as a strategy of waste prevention, regional job creation and resource efficiency in order to decouple wealth from resource consumption, that is to dematerialise the industrial economy.
Circular economy A circular economy is an industrial economy that promotes greater resource productivity aiming to reduce waste and avoid pollution by design or intention, and in which material flows are of two types: biological nutrients, designed to reenter the biosphere safely, and technical nutrients, which are designed to circulate at high quality in the production system without entering the biosphere as well as being restorative and regenerative by design. This is contrast to a linear economy which is a 'take, make, dispose' model of production.
China's Circular Economy The major economic reformation that occurred in China during the late 1970’s caused the economy to experience rapid economic growth, increased international trade and large flows of foreign direct investment due to the attractive business environment of China’s new economy. The accelerated industrialization process of China’s economy directly contributed to negative impacts on the environment, where there was a significant worsening of pollution, waste generation and resource depletion. China produces 46% of the worlds aluminum, 60% of cement and 50% of steel, while consuming more raw materials than all 35 OECD countries combined. China uses 2.5 kilograms of raw material to produce $1 GDP, while OECD countries only require 0.54 kilograms. The surge in output of heavy industries coupled with resource inefficiency, as well as levels of consumption comparable to the Western world, has influenced China into adopting a circular economy to ensure sustainable growth.
Circular economy The concept of the circular economy has previously been expressed as the circulation of money versus goods, services, access rights, valuable documents, etc., in macroeconomics. This situation has been illustrated in many diagrams for money and goods circulation associated with social systems. As a system, various agencies or entities are connected by paths through which the various goods etc., pass in exchange for money. However, this situation is different from the circular economy described above, where the flow is unilinear - in only one direction, that is, until the recycled goods again are spread over the world.