(Im)possibilities of “circular” production: Learning from corporate case studies of (un)sustainability

Kopnina, Helen and Padfield, Rory (2021) (Im)possibilities of “circular” production: Learning from corporate case studies of (un)sustainability. Environmental and Sustainability Indicators, 12. p. 100161. ISSN 2665-9727

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indic.2021.100161


This article discusses Cradle to Cradle (C2C) and circular economy designs including three key principles of C2C production as well as the so-called 9-R hierarchy of priorities in circular economy production. This article examines student assignments that apply these circular and C2C principles to the detergent brand Method, the refillable drinking bottle Dopper, and the packaging of Burger King. Product improvements identified by students include expanding transparency of the “invisible” aspects of production, such as the types of materials and energy used for packaging and transport, or the potential for take-back and repair. In the student analysis, it appears that the supposedly circular or C2C products have their shortcomings, especially when it comes to the first R of the 9-R hierarchy – Refuse or avoid making or buying new products. The larger lesson from these case studies is that the buzzword circularity might not be delivering on its promise of absolute decoupling of resource consumption from economic activity. Students are recommended to engage with tools, concepts, and approaches, such as critical thinking and degrowth strategies to provide insight into sustainable transformations for society.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Circular economy, Cradle to cradle, Degrowth, Greenwashing, Sustainability
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
L100 Economics
L900 Others in Social studies
N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2021 09:07
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2021 09:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/47865

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