The closed loop economy and socio- technical dynamics


Closed loop economy requires reverse material flows from customers to producers. Aiming at for a better understanding, the socio-technical system is structured and return behaviour modelled. This allows to investigate interactions as well as spatial, and temporal dependencies regarding the transformation of the system. The structure is established using literature surveys and information from six expert interviews. The resulting feedback system is depicted using the notation of causal loop diagrams. The analysis gives evidence for a possible rebound effect, if incentives for returned goods create new material desires. Rising values of resources will deplete the accumulated stock of products at home and lead to material losses, if recovery technologies are not significantly improved by that time. In order to assess spatial and temporal differences of the return system, an agent-based model was created. It uses numerical values calculated with a structural equation model, based on data taken from literature. Considering a broad range of literature, nonlinear feedbacks are assessed and put into operation. The model shows how spatial and temporal differences in behaviour emerge depending on the provided knowledge about the facilities, the facilities themselves or incentives returning the products. It indicates short term return incentives do not change behaviour in the long run. As a measure to increase return rates, the provision of knowledge about the facilities in densely populated, urban areas is suggested.


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