Taking it to the Next Level: Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology Explores the Circular Economy

Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.

In recent years a growing number of businesses, governments and environmental advocates have embraced the concept of a “circular economy,” which aims to achieve greater sustainability by keeping more resources and materials in use for as long as possible—through strategies such increased product durability, reuse and recycling.
Adopted by such businesses as Google, Unilever, and Renault, as well as by the European Union and China, this framework has become an important element of environmental policy and management worldwide and spawned a growing consulting industry.
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But in a new special issue of Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology, leading researchers make the case that it is time to take the discussion and analysis to the next level.
With the concept gaining traction globally, five experts write in the lead editorial, there is a growing urgency for shared understandings, a common language, and hard examinations of the complexities and opportunities in the circular economy.
Such discussions, they write, must tackle three fundamental aspects of the circular economy: 1. the challenge of increasing the scale of circularity efforts beyond individual initiatives; 2. the magnitude of potential environmental benefits and impacts in the context of material flows, resource use, and product design; and 3. opportunities for innovative business models, institutional change, and informed policy action.
“As the circular economy gains worldwide attention and as implementation spreads, challenges and tradeoffs are emerging,” said Reid Lifset, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology and co-author of the editorial. “Industrial ecology is well-placed to provide insight and guidance on the environmental and resource implications of this emerging framework.”
Highlights of the 25-article issue include:
“The effort to close loops and to increase resource efficiency is a key element in the pursuit of sustainability,” said Indy Burke, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “This special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology brings the technical prowess of industrial ecology to the understanding of the environmental and resource dimensions of our production and consumption systems.”
Partial support for this special issue was provided by the global consultancy, Deloitte, and the women’s clothing company, Eileen Fisher, Inc.
The Journal of Industrial Ecology is a peer-reviewed international scientific journal owned by Yale University, headquartered at the Center for Industrial Ecology of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and published by Wiley.
Articles in the special issue are freely downloadable for a limited time.
– Kevin Dennehy    kevin.dennehy@yale.edu    203 436-4842