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Journal article Embargoed Access

A customized multi-cycle model for measuring the sustainability of circular pathways in agri-food supply chains

Stillitano, Teodora; Falcone, Giacomo; Iofrida, Nathalie; Spada, Emanuele; Gulisano, Giovanni; De Luca, Anna Irene

Circular economy (CE) is claimed to be a promising pathway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but a reliable metric is needed to validate closed-loop strategies by measuring sustainability performances together with the degree of circularity. A significant contribution is offered by Life Cycle (LC) scholars in terms of methodological advances and operational tools for different sectors, also those more complex such as the agro-industrial systems that encompass biological and anthropogenic variables at different scales. However, to date, LC methodologies have not yet answered how to model the complexity of circular pathways. LC evaluations are often modelled for cradle-to-grave analyses, while a circularity evaluation would require an extension of the system boundaries to more interconnected life cycles, orienting towards a cradle-to-cradle perspective. This research gap led us to propose a multi-cycle approach with expanded assessment boundaries, including co-products, into a cradle-to-cradle perspective, in an attempt to internalize circularity impacts. The customized LC framework here proposed is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the Environmental Life Cycle Costing (ELCC) in terms of internal and external costs, and the Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) in terms of Psychosocial Risk Factor (PRF) impact pathway. The model is designed to be applied to the olive-oil sector, which commonly causes significant impacts by generating many by-products whose management is often problematic. Results are expected to show that the customized LC framework proposed can better highlight the environmental and socioeconomic performances of the system of cycles, allowing CE to deliver its promises of sustainability, as the circularity of materials per se is a means, not an end in itself.

This research was supported by the DRASTIC PRIN 2017 research project (project code: 2017JYRZFF), funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research (MIUR-ITA)
Embargoed Access

Files are currently under embargo but will be publicly accessible after July 6, 2024.