Yale University, MS
Garbageman’s Invitational Master’s Scholar 2016
How Closed-loop Production Systems Can Reduce Waste
"Circular economy" as a concept was first developed by Walter Stahel in the 1980s, where in his The Product-Life Factor paper argued for waste reduction and prevention strategies through business’ adoption of ways to reuse products or create service-life extension of products. However, it was not until the late 2000s that the ‘circular economy’ concept became more known also thanks to ‘Cradle to Cradle’, a framework created by W. McDonough and M Braungardt that inspired several think tanks and companies to push for business practices that generate less waste and are generally more friendly to the environment.
CEOs of consumer industries in many parts of the world do embrace this vision and want to make of ‘circular economy’ a reality as they see it could drive value to their business. However, these are oftentimes challenged by other actors or factors in the economy, and thus achieve an effective decoupling of value creation and resource-use seems an impossible mission.
It is very important to research how ‘circular economy’ products and business models could drive waste mitigation, pollution reduction and other environmental gains. Consumer industry and other industries are evolving to move towards more sustainable practices, yet, it is a critical moment to better understand what incentives will drive consumer industries to move a step further and own the responsibility of delivering to consumers a re-used packaging or recycled materials.
Serena’s research aims to best understand what business and regulatory incentives – in the United States and globally – may drive companies to create closed-loop systems. Moreover, Serena looks to study and quantify the economic, societal and environmental benefits of such systems using a system boundary that is not limited just to the companies driving the closed-loop system effort but also to other entities that may be partnering with the companies and helping them in their endeavor. In her research she strives to scout, analyze and promote ways for green chemistry and material science to enhance the feasibility of closed-loop systems and bring about a sustainable, non-toxic integration between the technical nutrients cycle and the biological nutrients cycle. Science can achieve milestones previously thought impossible and create advanced materials that can be reused, recycled (not down-cycled) or that can safely biodegrade without releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during their decomposition.
Serena Pozza is currently studying Environmental Management and Business Administration at Yale University, focusing on industrial ecology and green design. Serena is particularly interested in what what new products and business models can bring about a closed loop system and achieve zero waste. She wants to apply her knowledge of industrial ecology, life cycle assessment and green chemistry into creating business incentives to push change towards a circular economy. After graduating from Warwick University, Serena worked for the European Commission in China on issues related to renewable energy and energy efficiency in buildings. She then worked at the World Economic Forum, where she learned about the power of industrial innovations and partnerships in the sustainability space.