WS6: Opportunities and Challenges for the Circular Economy

Published: 8 October 2018


Jerry Blomberg (Luleå University of Technology): 
Johanna Saariniemi (University of Lapland):
Heikki Huilaja (University of Lapland):

A circular economy implies an organization of economic activities where resource inputs and waste, emissions, and energy leakages are substantially reduced by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops. This can be achieved through, for instance, product design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling. Pursuing each of these measures, though, imply challenges; they may face important barriers and could have negative side-effects (e.g., rebound effects). Moreover, a focus on recycling and resource efficiency must not distract from the need to improve the tracing and tracking of hazardous substances and materials. Both technological and organizational innovations, including innovative solutions in the public sector, are needed. Moreover, there is also demand for increased knowledge about behavioral aspects, the role of policy, as well as about the societal consequences of an increased penetration of circular business models.

For this session, we invite papers from various social science disciplines that can shed light on conceptual and empirical issues in relation to the circular economy challenges. Comparative perspectives from the Nordic countries, involving all sectors of society, are particularly welcome. So are case studies that address a range variety of materials and services, such as metals, biological materials, food waste, energy use, transport services, etc.