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Call for Papers: Exploring the Circular Economy

The Journal of Industrial Ecology has announced a call for papers for a special issue on Exploring the Circular Economy.

The circular economy is gaining increasing currency as a strategy in the pursuit of global sustainability.  China enacted a law for the promotion of the circular economy in 2006, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has played a pivotal role in engaging the business community, and the European Union is formulating a circular economy strategy as a socio-economically promising means to achieve resource efficiency.

In contrast to the take-use-dispose paradigm in a traditional linear economy, in a circular economy, resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting their maximum value. Products and materials are recovered and renewed, leveraging business models designed to support this regenerative activity.  In closing materials loops or cycling resources, the circular economy looks to natural systems—or more precisely, nature as represented in ecosystem ecology—as an inspiration for resource efficiency in anthropogenic systems.

As the circular economy concept gains traction and as iteration continues between vision and implementation, a wide variety of questions need careful exploration.  In some arenas, the focus is on when and how circular economy approaches produce desirable environmental outcomes—and when they don’t.  In others, the interest lies in the further development of tools and strategies, e.g., how is circularity measured in businesses and economies? And in still others, the central concern is the diffusion and adoption of circular economies approaches by business, governments and society at large.


It is the ambition of this special issue to probe diverse dimensions of the concept, methodologies, performance and history (intellectual and practical) of the circular economy.  This includes the examination of the environmental, economic, resource, engineering, managerial, design, and policy implications of the circular economy.  Analysis can employ well known tools in industrial ecology including life cycle assessment (LCA), material flow analysis (MFA), techno-economic analysis, and input-output analysis as well approaches from other fields and disciplines such as social science, public policy, design, engineering and business.  Detailed and well documented case studies are welcome especially if they speak to key questions related to the circular economy.


Appropriate topics include:

•    Analysis of the concept, elements, and mechanisms of the circular economy:  How does it differ from earlier concepts? How is circularity measured? How are the business models and other elements and strategies prioritized, especially in quantitative terms?  Is it productive to view industrial ecology as the science of the circular economy?

•    Assessment of the resource dimensions of the circular economy:  How can a circular economy be achieved in a growing economy where the generation of secondary materials is lower than what is needed as inputs to infrastructure and production?

•    Assessment of the environmental dimensions of the circular economy:  When do circular economy strategies generate desirable results and when do they not?  In a strategy that is primarily focused on material resources, how are perverse effects with respect to climate change, energy, water, toxics, and pollution avoided?

•    Management and economics: What business models are most appropriate to a circular economy? What is the potential for company profit and for national socio-economic development? How can the rebound effect be managed? To what extent do the benefits to business and to the economy align with the environmental outcomes of circular economy approaches?

•    Policy and politics: How have circular economy policies been formulated and how have they performed to date?  How do existing circular economy policies differ from those currently proposed by circular economy advocates?  How does strategy based on resource efficiency and conservation succeed politically when resources prices decline?

•    Implementation: How is the circular economy achieved?  How are diverse stakeholders engaged and how are differing interests accommodated? How can business models friendly to a circular economy be fostered?  How are public and private procurement best used to advance the circular economy?  At what scale(s) are the circular economy best pursued—product, firm, supply chain, life cycle, urban, regional, national, etc.?


For the full call for papers, please go to:

Submission deadline: February 15, 2016


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