A Framework for Assessment of and Advancement Towards Sustainable Circular Economy : An application on automotive brake calipers

University essay from KTH/Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik

Abstract: The current use of natural resources within the industry generally constitutes of linear systems of raw material extraction to waste formation. However, an increased awareness of sustainability issues has resulted in engagements to try to minimise the impacts on the environment that these linear systems impose. Circular Economy is a concept for a strategy that strives towards closing loops of material in society, and therefore reduce the need of raw material extraction and waste formation. Although Cir- cular Economy strives towards increasing the sustainability of a system, recent research has shown that circularity of material does not necessarily have to lower the environmental impact. Therefore there is a need for a method that can assess circularity from a holistic perspective to ensure the contribution of the Circular Economy strategy to a more sustainable society. The aim of the study is to create a framework that accounts for both conventional circular economy indicators and environmental impacts, and that helps set a strategy for companies to transform towards sustainable Circular Economy. The findings of the performed literature study resulted in the gathering of the most used assessment tools for assessment of circular economy in previous studies: Material Flow Analysis, Cumulative En- ergy Demand and Life Cycle Assessment. This set of tools is used to identify hot spots of impact of a product throughout the product lifetime and to set a strategy toward better practices of manufacturing companies. The study gives an example of practical implementation of the framework on a case study of brake caliper remanufacturing at Autoexperten, a chain of franchise concept garages owned by the parent company KGK. A Material Flow Assessment and a Life Cycle Assessment is performed on a scenario modeled to represent the current state of the case of remanufacturing at Autoexperten, and an alternative scenario that do not include the practice of remanufacturing. The results of the performed assessments concluded that the current state scenario is the most preferable alternative regarding energy use, material use and environmental impact. Therefore, the main recommendation in regards to business strategies for Autoexperten and KGK is to continue the practice of remanufacturing.

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