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Integrating Backcasting and Eco-Design for the Circular Economy: The BECE Framework

Mendoza, JMF and Sharmina, M and Gallego-Schmid, A and Heyes, G and Azapagic, A (2017) Integrating Backcasting and Eco-Design for the Circular Economy: The BECE Framework. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21 (3). pp. 526-544. ISSN 1088-1980


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The circular economy (CE) is essential for decoupling economic growth from resource consumption and environmental impacts. However, effective implementation requires a systemic change across supply chains, involving both technological and nontechnological innovations. Frameworks are beginning to emerge to foster CE thinking in organizations. However, literature review carried out as part of this research has revealed gaps in their ability to fulfil CE requirements. Furthermore, few frameworks provide support on how CE requirements may be implemented. To address these issues, this article presents a new framework, BECE (backcasting and eco-design for the circular economy), to ensure that businesses can implement CE requirements more readily. BECE empowers organizations to tackle the CE holistically by embedding the concept into corporate decision making and by bringing operational and systems thinking together, thus increasing the likelihood of successful implementation. The potential of the BECE framework was tested through a pilot workshop focusing on the development of a CE business model through redesign of products and supply chains. Using vacuum cleaners as an illustrative case study, several product design and supply-chain alternatives were identified, including the development of scenarios and action plans for their implementation at the business level. Although the case study focuses on a particular product, the BECE framework is generic and applicable across different products and business sectors.

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