From resource efficiency to resource conservation : Studies, developments and recommendations for industrial implementation of circular manufacturing systems

Abstract: Manufacturing industry is under permanent pressure to maintain its economic growth and profitability as strong societal backbone. At the same time pressures of waste generation and resource consumption are increasing as result of manufacturing operations. Since manufacturing industry is one of the major consumers of natural resources it is therefore essential to reduce dependency on natural resources by decoupling economic growth from consumption. Resource efficiency approaches can improve the performance of production systems by reducing resource losses. However, the fundamental assumption at the basis of resource efficiency approaches is that resources are available infinitely. As a consequence, challenges of sustainability and resource scarcity remain inadequately addressed. The objective of this research is to develop analysis methods and decision support tools for manufacturing industry to facilitate its transition from linear production systems to circular manufacturing systems, which are economically viable and environmentally sustainable. The initial scope of study focuses on industrial resource efficiency assessment in production systems. Expanding the view to a manufacturing system perspective, the current research is explored with regard to circular manufacturing systems in the context of economic benefits, resource scarcity and waste generation. Systematic analysis methods and decision support tools are developed for industrial companies to facilitate the adaption of circular manufacturing systems. These developments are supported by industrial case studies. The analysis methods are to the largest extent based on agent-based simulation approaches. The tools are capable of assessing the economic and environmental impact of different business models, design strategies as well as supply chains settings. Moreover, the tools are able to determine whether introductions of new (circular) business models will be adopted by customers. One empirical market study is performed to investigate value propositions of a circular business approaches based on customer decisions.