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Ecologically Embedded Design in Manufacturing: Legitimation within Circular Economy

Hana Trollman (), James Colwill () and Alan Brejnholt ()
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Hana Trollman: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK
James Colwill: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK
Alan Brejnholt: Institute for International Management, Loughborough University London, London E15 2GZ, UK

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 10, 1-13

Abstract: Circular economy has gained momentum since the 1970s as a regenerative alternative to the traditional linear economy. However, as the circular economy has gone mainstream, circularity claims have become fragmented and remote, consisting of indirect contributions, such as the life extension of other products and the use of waste as feedstock, without addressing the actual cause of waste. The present study aims to identify the strategic motivations of manufacturers participating in the circular economy and the corresponding relationship to ecological embeddedness. This paper explores the circular economy in manufacturing through existing products on the market and their relationship to eco-design by considering the product, packaging, and its production. Legitimacy is found to be a decisive factor in whether the type of circular economy strategy manufacturers adopt yields ecological benefits. The results from the case study of products clearly indicate the superiority of ecological embeddedness, as a form of circularity supporting strong sustainability. Finally, a novel template is proposed to support the implementation of ecological embeddedness in manufacturing.

Keywords: circular economy; ecological embeddedness; design; legitimacy; sustainability; manufacturing; ecocentric (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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