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Resources, Volume 12, Issue 3 (March 2023) – 12 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Infrastructure development has traditionally focused on minimizing negative impacts in areas such as water and air quality, soil erosion, biodiversity and waste, and avoiding damage beyond pre-project baselines. Industry frameworks, standards and rating schemes must evolve to not only avoid damage but contribute positively to social and ecological systems. This research explores the feasibility of using an existing benchmarking methodology called Ecological Performance Standards (EPS) to facilitate mainstreaming regenerative performance expectations in infrastructure development. A matrix is introduced to map ecosystem services against infrastructure sustainability rating scheme credits and categories, demonstrating significant opportunities for a new 'business-as-usual'. View this paper
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17 pages, 965 KiB  
Article
What Role Does Sustainable Behavior and Environmental Awareness from Civil Society Play in the Planet’s Sustainable Transition
by Micaela Pinho and Sofia Gomes
Resources 2023, 12(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030042 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 5266
Abstract
The respect of human beings for the planet’s boundaries is an obligation of humanity for the sake of our own and future generations. Achieving this planetary sustainability requires a radical change in the way humanity develops. This study aims to explore whether a [...] Read more.
The respect of human beings for the planet’s boundaries is an obligation of humanity for the sake of our own and future generations. Achieving this planetary sustainability requires a radical change in the way humanity develops. This study aims to explore whether a sample of Portuguese civil society is committed to achieving this purpose. We explored: (i) citizens’ adherence to sustainable behaviour in terms of purchases and household practices; (ii) if environmental concerns and activism are predictors of these sustainable behaviours; and (iii) if environmental concerns influence environmental activism. A quantitative approach was used based on partial least squares. The results revealed that respondents demonstrate sustainable behaviour in consumption by avoiding plastic and looking for recyclable packaging and in housework by saving energy; environmental activism proved to be the most significant predictor of these behaviours, followed by environmental concerns. This article constitutes an opportunity to take (suggested) measures that encourage a change in the behavioural patterns of societies. Full article
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16 pages, 4262 KiB  
Article
Soil Improvement Using Blends of Coal Ash and Plantain Peel Ash as Road Pavement Layer Materials
by Isaac Akinwumi, Manuela Onyeiwu, Promise Epelle and Victor Ajayi
Resources 2023, 12(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030041 - 22 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2088
Abstract
The management of waste and its environmental impact remains an issue. Thus, various strategies are being explored to mitigate this problem. For this research case, the ash of plantain peel and coal was harnessed to enhance soil for usage in designing road pavements. [...] Read more.
The management of waste and its environmental impact remains an issue. Thus, various strategies are being explored to mitigate this problem. For this research case, the ash of plantain peel and coal was harnessed to enhance soil for usage in designing road pavements. The form of the soil, as regards its plasticity and grain assortment, positions it as a sandy lean clay material. Geotechnical parameters of the natural soil were established before being treated with coal ash (CA) and plantain peel ash (PPA), and subjected to tests for the Atterberg limits, California bearing ratio (CBR) and compaction, as well as investigations pertaining to its crystallinity and morphology. These assessments showed that strength parameters of soil increased on adding CA and PPA. However, the inclusion of these admixtures should be conducted until optimal strength is achieved as seen in 9% CA + 6% PPA. The use of soil stabilised with CA and PPA is suitable for general fillings and embankments. These findings revealed that integrating CA and PPA together would have the potential of stabilising soil as pavement layer material while also eliminating the pollution that emerges from the improper disposal of coal and plantain peels from the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Solid Waste Management)
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13 pages, 593 KiB  
Article
A Multicriteria Analysis to Support Natural Resource Governance: The Case of Chestnut Forests
by Stefano Bruzzese, Simone Blanc, Silvia Novelli and Filippo Brun
Resources 2023, 12(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030040 - 20 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1499
Abstract
Efficient natural resource management prevents and reduces negative impacts, such as environmental damage, misappropriation of resources, and conflicts; several strategies can be leveraged to conserve, protect, and enhance natural resources. Multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) is useful in providing solutions to addressing decision choice [...] Read more.
Efficient natural resource management prevents and reduces negative impacts, such as environmental damage, misappropriation of resources, and conflicts; several strategies can be leveraged to conserve, protect, and enhance natural resources. Multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) is useful in providing solutions to addressing decision choice problems. In this study, the natural resource under evaluation is the chestnut forest, with the objective of valorising its supply chains. The methodology applied is A’WOT, which allows previously identified factors, using a qualitative SWOT matrix, to be ordered through an objective quantification using the AHP (analytic hierarchy process), which is a multicriteria decision support method. The survey was conducted with a group of chestnut resource (n = 20) experts. The SWOT matrix identified a total of 20 factors: 6 strengths and 6 weaknesses and 4 factors each for opportunities and threats. The results express a clear stakeholder interest, which identifies the significant role of civil society in directing management choices for the provision and enhancement of ecosystem and vocational services. This study evaluated the adaptability of decision support tools applied to a real case of forest resource management to identify and order factors useful to enhance the resource and stimulate the supply chains to achieve greater added value. In a general sense, the methodological potential emerged to replicate or improve the research in other geographical regions, whether regional or extraregional, or even on a larger scale, such as on a national level. Full article
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13 pages, 1915 KiB  
Article
Application of Metallic Iron and Ferrates in Water and Wastewater Treatment for Cr(VI) and Organic Contaminants Removal
by Georgios Samiotis, Adam Stimoniaris, Ilias Ristanis, Liana Kemmou, Charoula Mavromatidou and Elisavet Amanatidou
Resources 2023, 12(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030039 - 20 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1511
Abstract
Iron species can act as electron donors, electron acceptors or serve as a sorbent to co-precipitate contaminants. These properties, along with its relatively low cost as a material, make iron an ideal compound for environmental applications in the removal of pollutants from water [...] Read more.
Iron species can act as electron donors, electron acceptors or serve as a sorbent to co-precipitate contaminants. These properties, along with its relatively low cost as a material, make iron an ideal compound for environmental applications in the removal of pollutants from water and wastewater. This study assesses the use of metallic iron as a reductant for the removal of toxic Cr(VI) from aqueous solutions, as well as the use of hexavalent iron (ferrates) for the removal of organic compounds, turbidity and biological contaminants from water and wastewater. Laboratory-scale experiments show that the Cr(VI) removal efficiency of metallic iron filling materials, such as scrap iron fillings, via reduction to Cr(III) and the subsequent precipitation/filtration of aggregates can reach values over 99.0%. Moreover, the efficiency of ferrates, in situ synthesized via a low-cost Fe0/Fe0 electrochemical cell, in the removal of organic compounds, turbidity and biological contaminants from high-strength industrial wastewater, biologically treated wastewater and natural water can also reach values over 99.0%. The results showed that iron species can be applied in low-cost and environmentally friendly technologies for natural water remediation and wastewater treatment. Furthermore, the study showed that the challenge of an iron material’s surface passivation, as well as of ferrates’ procurement cost and stability, can be resolved via the application of ultrasounds and via in situ ferrate electrosynthesis. Full article
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14 pages, 1925 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Surfactant Removal Capacity and Microbial Community Diversity in a Greywater-Treating Constructed Wetland
by Robelio Mascoli Junior, Caique Morelo Passoni, Filipe Martins Santos, Fernando Silva Bernardes, Fernando Jorge Correa. Magalhães Filho and Paula Loureiro Paulo
Resources 2023, 12(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030038 - 19 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1746
Abstract
Surfactants are among the main chemical contaminants in greywater (GW) and can cause severe health issues in humans and aquatic organisms. We assessed the performance of a multistage constructed wetland system (EvaTAC) for GW treatment and capacity of the microbial community in linear [...] Read more.
Surfactants are among the main chemical contaminants in greywater (GW) and can cause severe health issues in humans and aquatic organisms. We assessed the performance of a multistage constructed wetland system (EvaTAC) for GW treatment and capacity of the microbial community in linear alkyl benzene sulfonate (LAS) biodegradation. Physicochemical analyses were performed over 497 d, and biomass samples were collected for high-throughput DNA sequencing. The system was predominated by anaerobic conditions and received an average chemical oxygen demand (COD) and LAS of 374 and 32 mg·L−1, with removal rates of 66% and 43%, respectively. A positive correlation between COD and LAS suggested COD as a design parameter for LAS removal. We identified microbial genera participating in hydrolysis, fermentation, syntrophy, acetogenesis, methanogenesis, surfactant degradation, and sulphate reduction. Among the 15 surfactant-degrading genera, Pseudomonas was predominant. Community richness and diversity indices were comparable between subsystems, with a slight decrease in diversity observed towards the outlet. Among the LAS degraders, Rhodopseudomonas palustris had the highest relative abundance of operational taxonomic unit (OTU)s in all samples and the highest richness in the anaerobic chamber. The patterns in microbial community composition and environmental conditions suggest that LAS biodegradation occurred throughout the EvaTAC system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Editorial Board Members' Collection Series: Water Resources)
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20 pages, 1433 KiB  
Article
A Transformed Approach for Benchmarking the Performance of ‘Sustainable’ Infrastructure
by Samantha Hayes, Cheryl Desha, Savindi Caldera and Mark Gibbs
Resources 2023, 12(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030037 - 08 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1491
Abstract
Environmental sustainability priorities for infrastructure development have traditionally focused on aspects including minimising negative impacts in areas such as water and air quality, erosion control, biodiversity and waste management, both in compliance and voluntary frameworks. Associated project performance priorities have focused on avoiding [...] Read more.
Environmental sustainability priorities for infrastructure development have traditionally focused on aspects including minimising negative impacts in areas such as water and air quality, erosion control, biodiversity and waste management, both in compliance and voluntary frameworks. Associated project performance priorities have focused on avoiding damage beyond ‘pre-project baselines’. In contrast, ‘best practice’ regenerative performance requires infrastructure project outcomes that not only avoid damage but contribute positively to social and ecological systems. For such best practice to become mainstream, industry frameworks, standards and rating schemes must evolve. However, there is limited knowledge regarding ‘how’ regenerative performance could be encouraged as a business-as-usual infrastructure expectation. This paper therefore explores the potential for a benchmarking methodology called Ecological Performance Standards (EPS) as a transformed approach to facilitate the mainstreaming of regenerative performance expectations. Three research workshops (Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sydney and Brisbane, Australia) were undertaken to investigate the potential for this methodology in infrastructure applications. Mapping was undertaken to align the EPS process steps with associated infrastructure lifecycle phases. Research findings include the synthesis of key opportunities for capturing EPS within infrastructure sustainability rating schemes to leverage current efforts and pivot towards regenerative performance. The authors present a comprehensive matrix mapping 18 ecosystem services against the Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) Rating Scheme credits and categories, summarising where ecosystem services are addressed within the current scheme. The authors conclude the presence of significant opportunities for a new ‘business-as-usual’ for infrastructure through the integration of regenerative performance benchmarking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women's Special Issue Series: Sustainable Resource Management)
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17 pages, 2000 KiB  
Review
Solid-State Fermentation for the Recovery of Phenolic Compounds from Agro-Wastes
by Nadia D. Cerda-Cejudo, José J. Buenrostro-Figueroa, Leonardo Sepúlveda-Torre, Cristian Torres-León, Mónica L. Chávez-González, Juan A. Ascacio-Valdés and Cristóbal N. Aguilar
Resources 2023, 12(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030036 - 06 Mar 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3391
Abstract
Polyphenolic compounds are a group of secondary metabolites in plants; these molecules are widely distributed in fruits, vegetables, and herbs and can be found in the vacuoles of plant cells. The current trend in these compounds is their extraction to study their applications [...] Read more.
Polyphenolic compounds are a group of secondary metabolites in plants; these molecules are widely distributed in fruits, vegetables, and herbs and can be found in the vacuoles of plant cells. The current trend in these compounds is their extraction to study their applications in several areas, such as the food, cosmetic, and pharmacology industry. This review article presents a critical analysis of polyphenol extraction using solid-state fermentation. The parameters of extraction, such as the substrate, temperature, pH, inoculum of the microorganism, moisture, and water activity, are discussed in detail. This biotechnological extraction method affects the concentration and recovery of polyphenolic compounds. Some polyphenolic sources that are rising for their biological properties belong to agro-industrial wastes, such as peels, seeds, and the pulp of some fruits. Solid-state fermentation is an innovative and environmentally friendly tool that can contribute to generating value-added agrifood from agro-industrial wastes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resource Extraction from Agricultural Products/Waste)
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19 pages, 420 KiB  
Article
Development of a MATLAB-GAMS Framework for Solving the Problem Regarding the Optimal Location and Sizing of PV Sources in Distribution Networks
by David Steveen Guzmán-Romero, Brandon Cortés-Caicedo and Oscar Danilo Montoya
Resources 2023, 12(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030035 - 03 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1814
Abstract
This paper addresses the planning problem regarding the location and sizing of PV generators in distribution networks with a radial topology. This problem is mathematically modeled using a mixed integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) model, which seeks to reduce the total annual operating costs [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the planning problem regarding the location and sizing of PV generators in distribution networks with a radial topology. This problem is mathematically modeled using a mixed integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) model, which seeks to reduce the total annual operating costs of the system for a planning horizon of 20 years. The objective function used in this paper comprises three elements: (i) the energy purchase costs at the substation node (i.e., the main supply node), (ii) the investment costs for the integration of PV generators, and (iii) the costs associated with the operation and maintenance of these devices. To solve this problem, the interconnection of MATLAB and GAMS software is proposed, while using a master–slave methodology, with which a high-quality solution to this problem is achieved. In the master stage, the MATLAB software is used as a tool to program a discrete version of the sine–cosine algorithm (DSCA), which determines the locations where the PV generators are to be installed. In the slave stage, using one of the solvers of the GAMS software (BONMIN) with the known locations of the PV generators, the MINLP model representing the problem to be studied is solved in order to find the value of the objective function and the nominal power of the PV generators. The numerical results achieved in the IEEE 33- and 69-node systems are compared with the mixed-integer conic programming model solution reported in the specialized literature, thus demonstrating the efficiency and robustness of the proposed optimization methodology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decision Making in Resources Management: Problems, Methods and Tools)
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21 pages, 659 KiB  
Article
Competitiveness of Namibia’s Agri-Food Commodities: Implications for Food Security
by Yonas T. Bahta and Salomo Mbai
Resources 2023, 12(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030034 - 01 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2673
Abstract
The global literature widely uses Revealed Comparative Advantage (RCA), Lafay Index (LFI), Export Diversification (EDI), Hirschman (HI), and Major Export Category (MEC) to analyze international trade flows, though agricultural trade, specifically agri-food commodities consisting of food and feed commodities, is neglected in empirical [...] Read more.
The global literature widely uses Revealed Comparative Advantage (RCA), Lafay Index (LFI), Export Diversification (EDI), Hirschman (HI), and Major Export Category (MEC) to analyze international trade flows, though agricultural trade, specifically agri-food commodities consisting of food and feed commodities, is neglected in empirical works. Furthermore, the determinants of Revealed Comparative Advantages and the Lafay Index have received little attention, with little focus on the relationships between food insecurity as measured by the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) and the aforementioned factors, including the RCA and LFI indices as explanatory variables with other macroeconomic variables. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the competitiveness of Namibia’s agri-food products, the factors that influence it, and their implication for food security. This study attempts to answer which factors affect agri-food comparative advantage, which agri-food commodities have a comparative advantage and disadvantage, and what the implications are to food security. The study employed regression analysis, the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, and various indices. Revealed Comparative Advantage and Lafay Index indicated a mixed result during the study period. Export Diversification and Hirschman indices indicated a less concentrated trade structure throughout the study period. The results of the market structure of the international agri-food market estimated by the Major Export Category revealed that Namibia was unduly dependent on agri-food commodities incorporated in this study. The regression result showed a significant negative influence of labor and land productivity on the aggregated RCA and LFI for agri-food commodities. Land productivity and GDP per capita impact the degree of food insecurity in Namibia. The study concludes that Namibia was not dependent on international trade of agri-food commodities and had little bearing on food security. These analyses enlighten policymakers about the competitiveness of the agri-food business and its implications for food security through evidence-based policy development. Full article
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9 pages, 820 KiB  
Article
Grade and Tonnage Comparison of Anthropogenic Raw Materials and Ores for Cu, Zn, and Pb Recovery
by Eirik Nøst Nedkvitne, Dag Øistein Eriksen and Jon Petter Omtvedt
Resources 2023, 12(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030033 - 28 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1457
Abstract
Primary metal production operates with large tonnages and takes advantage of economies of scale. Metal recycled from low-value waste streams, competing in the same global metal market as primary production, will be more competitive by also taking advantage of up-scaling. However, an overview [...] Read more.
Primary metal production operates with large tonnages and takes advantage of economies of scale. Metal recycled from low-value waste streams, competing in the same global metal market as primary production, will be more competitive by also taking advantage of up-scaling. However, an overview of metal tonnages in low-value waste streams to see upscaling potential needs to be provided in the literature. In response, this study provides estimates of copper, zinc, and lead metal tonnages in waste incineration ash—A major waste stream going to landfills. Metal concentrations and tonnages are compared to tonnages and concentration grades found in ores. Copper, zinc, and lead concentration averages are about 3–5 times lower in ash compared to the worldwide average head grade of ores. Tonnages of metal in the ash generated from waste incineration in European countries bordering the Baltic and the North Sea are about 1/3 of mining metal output from Sweden, a leading mining country in the region. Therefore, incineration ash should be considered a significant potential Cu, Zn, and Pb metal source. Full article
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16 pages, 5447 KiB  
Article
Modeling the Impact of Fees and Circular Economy Options on the Financial Sustainability of the Solid Waste Management System in Jordan
by Hani A. Abu-Qdais, Nawras Shatnawi and Rami Al-Shahrabi
Resources 2023, 12(3), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030032 - 22 Feb 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2264
Abstract
Municipal solid waste services in Jordan are being provided by municipalities, where 90% of the generated solid waste finds its way to the landfills and dump sites. All Jordanian municipalities are suffering from low cost recovery where it reaches 50% in its best [...] Read more.
Municipal solid waste services in Jordan are being provided by municipalities, where 90% of the generated solid waste finds its way to the landfills and dump sites. All Jordanian municipalities are suffering from low cost recovery where it reaches 50% in its best case. Realizing these facts, recently, the Jordanian government has embarked on an ambitious package of regulations and policies to promote the adoption of circular economy options. The National Solid Waste Management Strategy (NSWMS) of Jordan has called for rationalization, gradual increase of the service fees and adoption of circular economy options through recycling and composting. To assess the impacts of the proposed policies by the NSWMS on the financial sustainability, a system dynamic modeling (SDM) was carried out for the two largest municipalities in the country, namely Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) and Greater Irbid Municipality (GIM). The share of solid waste management cost from the total municipal budget in GAM and GIM is 13.3% and 24%, respectively. On the other hand, the cost per ton of solid waste management in GAM is USD 85 and in GIM it is USD 50. Medium-term and long-term scenarios were considered in the SDM analysis. By considering the year 2016 as a baseline year, the simulation revealed that during the midterm period (2022–2026), the cost recovery will be increased from 54% to 82.5% in GAM, while in GIM it will be raised from 45% to 70%. Moreover, during the long-term period (2027–2034) as a result of adopting circular economy options by recycling and composting, both GAM and GIM will achieve full cost recovery of the solid waste services, in 2028 and 2029, respectively. Furthermore, diverting the solid waste from the landfill will lead to climate change mitigation, where about 652,275 tons of CO2eq. and greenhouse gases will be avoided. It is recommended that municipalities in Jordan should consider a more efficient solid waste collection mechanism rather than through electricity bills. Further research is needed to assess the impact of other circular economy options such as waste to energy and extended producer responsibility (EPR). Full article
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16 pages, 3065 KiB  
Article
Effects of Post-Fire Mulching with Loranthus europaeus Jacq. on Surface Runoff and Rainsplash Erosion in a Semi-Arid Pine Forest
by Mehdi Navidi, Abbas Banj Shafiei, Ahmad Alijanpour, Sajad Pirsa, Hesam Ahmady-Birgani, Manuel Esteban Lucas-Borja and Demetrio Antonio Zema
Resources 2023, 12(3), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources12030031 - 21 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1152
Abstract
To avoid flooding and erosion hazards, post-fire management actions are essential in Mediterranean forests after severe wildfires. In this regard, mulching is the most common action but some mulch materials, such as straw, may lead to adverse impacts in burned forests. The use [...] Read more.
To avoid flooding and erosion hazards, post-fire management actions are essential in Mediterranean forests after severe wildfires. In this regard, mulching is the most common action but some mulch materials, such as straw, may lead to adverse impacts in burned forests. The use of yellow mistletoe fruits (Loranthus europaeus Jacq., hereafter “LE”) for the production of biodegradable mulch and its effectiveness in post-fire hydrology have never been studied. To fill this gap, this study has evaluated surface runoff and rainsplash erosion in a pine forest in Central Eastern Spain burned by a wildfire and mulched by a mixture of LE fruits and straw (with or without adding clay particles) using a portable rainfall simulator. Compared to untreated sites, runoff increased in burned and mulched soils (by 13.6% for the mixture without clay and by 17.2% when clay was added, in the latter case significantly). This increase was mainly due to the compact layer created by mulch application on the soil surface. However, the peak flow and the time to peak were lower in mulched soils (on average by 32.7% and 60.5%, significantly only for the mulch mixture without clay), thus indicating that, in these soils, peak runoff takes longer and its maximum value is lower compared to untreated sites. Soil erosion noticeably and significantly decreased (up to 97%) in mulched areas in comparison to untreated sites without significant differences between the two mixtures. Overall, this study indicates to land managers that soil mulching with a mixture of Loranthus europaeus Jacq. and straw is an effective post-fire management action to reduce the soil erosion risk after a wildfire. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Editorial Board Members' Collection Series: Water Resources)
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