Research

In order to succeed in moving from a linear use of resources towards a circular economy, it is essential to study and understand several aspects of consumer waste behavior, such as:

  • Food waste avoidance through identifying and altering causes of consumer food waste in the retailer-consumer interface (e.g. food pricing)
  • Consumers’ perception of their own responsibility and empowerment in reducing (e.g., plastic use through waste sorting systems initiated by regulators)
  • Barriers for proper waste handling, as these may be built into the design of waste handling infrastructures or are rooted in people’s habits and convictions
  • Understanding the learning processes through which citizens of all generations assume new forms of waste handling.

This relates to, for instance, understanding and improving waste prevention, including reduction of littering, analyzing and improving citizens’ source separation and waste handling, as well as appropriate use of take-back schemes.  

Design of collection systems
Another essential aspect towards a circular economy is the design of collection systems that support correct disposal, encourage circular use of resources, and are financially sustainable. This relates to the location of collection points in bring systems, the design of efficient collection routes, as well as the environmental impacts stemming from decisions regarding choice of route, vehicles and fuel. It also relates to the design of appropriate take-back schemes for products that pose difficulties to the circular economy concept, such as pharmaceuticals and products where take-back schemes ease the recycling process.

The quality of recycled materials
In order to close the loop of the circular economy, it is essential to ensure that the quality of recycled materials lives up to certain standards for inclusion in future production processes, to understand the technical limitations of sorting resources post collection, to obtain a better understanding of the energy potential of different types of material, as well as the benefits and risks of pollution stemming from the use of bio waste as fertilizer. 

Research in waste law
Surrounding the circular economy is a layer of waste regulations, policy actors and policy tools. Research on waste law regards mapping, analyzing and proposing amendments to the waste regulatory framework in Denmark and the EU in order to ensure the policy aims of efficiency in waste management and of the circular economy.