Exploring Waste Management in the Circular Economy Concept Trough a Literature Review and a Case Study
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This thesis explores the relationship between Waste Management (WM) and Circular Economy (CE) through a literature review and case analysis. The main focus is on the role of WM in developing the CE concepts. Both concepts are linked to proper waste handling and the move of economies towards attaining a sustainable future. In addition, WM is considered an essential tool in dealing with the increasing global waste challenge. Both WM and CE have been put on the agenda in recent years as a response to the focus on sustainable development. CE especially, has gained momentum in recent years due to the attention of reaching the 17 sustainable development goals. The increasing attention for WM and CE shaped our research questions: Q1: What role does Waste Management play in Circular Economy? Q2: How are the two concepts of Waste Management and Circular Economy related? The research questions have been addressed by applying a literature meta-analysis. A total of 168 abstracts of research articles were pulled through the literature meta-analysis and methodically categorised. This categorisation was then analysed to find similarities and distinctions between the two concepts. The literature meta-analysis reviled a literature gap between CE theory and CE research literature. In CE theory WM have a central role in CE, while in CE research literature was WM almost overlooked. However, the contrast was not as distinct as first anticipated. Our literature meta-analysis also revealed that even though the concept of CE was less present in WM literature, the central aspects of CE was very much present in the form of reuse, reduce, recycle, and recover. The findings of our literature meta-analysis were then compared against operational practice of the regional renovation facility of IVAR IKS. The comparison was done through a case study of IVAR, limited to involve only the new renovated sorting facility at Forus. The case study was then finalized with interview and document analysis. This case study contradicted the findings in our literature meta-analysis, showing a more integrated practice of CE in the waste industry than first predicted. However, both studies showed less focus on the key element of reduce and more or less overlooked the consumers position in WM and CE. Due to the central role of WM within CE, we would then suggest a re-definition of the concept of WM in the context of CE.
Master's thesis in Energy, environment and society