A circular economy (CE) is an economic system where products and services are traded in closed loops or ‘cycles’. This work develops a framework for assessing the extent to which product supply chains incorporate circular economy principles, and applies this framework to a specific material handling application, the wooden pallet supply chain. The main decisions affecting circularity and the most common decision alternatives for the wooden pallet supply chain are identified for the Pre-manufacturing, manufacturing, product delivery, customer use, and end-of-life phases. A streamlined life cycle assessment tool is developed for supporting a quick analysis about how the level of adoption of CE strategies could support environmental sustainability in pallet supply chains. A questionnaire, scoring, and assessment are presented for each phase of a pallet supply chain to reduce input and use of natural resources, reduce emission levels, reduce valuable materials losses, increase share of renewable and recyclable resources, and increase the value of durability of products. A case study is used to test the proposed method and present a contrast between two scenarios.
Progress in Material Handling Research
Gnoni, Maria Grazia; Tornese, Fabiana; Thorn, Brian K.; Carrano, Andres L.; and Pazour, Jennifer A., "A Measurement Tool for Circular Economy Practices: a Case Study in Pallet Supply Chains" (2018). 15th IMHRC Proceedings (Savannah, Georgia. USA – 2018). 12.