"Standards for the Circular Economy"
, Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (JKU), Linz, 12-2020
Standards for the Circular Economy
Sprache des Titels:
Due to the limits of the linear economy with the take-make-waste process, a transition towards Circular Economy is vital. Withal, standardization is one main important means to pave the way for Circular Economy. Standards comprise the latest and commonly agreed knowledge and specifications from technology, science and practical experience and do not just serve for quality control, environmental- and labour protection, they also regulate international trade and promote innovation and higher perception for stakeholders in almost all branches.
For this reason, the Master Thesis elaborates the fundamentals of Circular Economy on the one hand and fundamentals of standardization on the other hand and merges both topics to determine and comprehend standardization for the Circular Economy. Therefore, early and recent developments of Circular Economy are depicted, and different schools of thought are emphasized, such as Cradle-to-Cradle or the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Latter mentioned organization brought up the so-called Butterfly Diagram to constitute how technical and biological nutrients are allocated across the economic cycle, which indicates a closed-loop system to keep materials and products as long as possible in the value chain. Thus, reducing the usage of resources by extending the product life and utilization of materials. This will lead to entire new business models and processes within organizations, which can be supported with profound standards and comprehensive guidelines for a sustainable implementation of Circular Economy.
In order to find conclusive results and appropriate standards, a quantitative and qualitative research approach was chosen (scanning for standards in the internet, action research with unstructured interviews with DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung, ASI Austrian Standards International and QA Quality Austria), which leaded to a comprehensive understanding of the topic and brought up insights from latest projects and activities in the field of standardization for Circular Economy.
The research investigation for this Master Thesis led to findings that are sub-divided into a) quantitative depiction of standards mapped to the Ellen MacArthur Framework the Butterfly Diagram, b) qualitative depiction of selected standards and guidelines (coverage of more than fifty percent of the categories of the Butterfly Diagram) and c) latest standardization initiatives for Circular Economy.
In conclusion, this Master Thesis provides valuable results to gain elementary knowledge about existing and future standards to lead the transition towards Circular Economy.