This project combines the socioeconomic and resource flow knowledge of two chairs at ETH Zurich, in order to explore the hidden economic and environmental potential of different paths towards a sustainable circular economy in Switzerland.

Lay summary

Current research and practical applications of the circular economy concept reveal two major caveats: Firstly, closing material loops in a value chain does not always lead to better environmental performance – a circular economy is not sustainable per se. And secondly, the current understanding of a circular economy is often limited to waste management. This neglects important aspects of the value chain such as potential new business models for bringing about possible improvements.

With this project our aim is to define a sustainable circular economy by integrating resource and socioeconomic perspectives, in order to understand material circularity in a holistic way. To this end, we aim to address the overarching research question: What are the hidden potentials for improving resource management in Switzerland, and how could they pave the way towards a sustainable circular economy?

To achieve these objectives, this project will carry out and consolidate economic and ecological analyses of selected value chains, to help policy makers improve regulatory frameworks and develop incentive systems to provide adequate framework conditions for a sustainable circular economy.