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Resources, Volume 13, Issue 4 (April 2024) – 11 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In the era of the circular economy, solutions aimed at increasing the circularity of materials and products are highly welcome. Eco-design and waste management strategies are crucial for ensuring circularity and resource-saving. Strategies should be driven by assessing life cycle-based environmental performance. Tools to measure this performance should take into account two recycling-oriented parameters: recycled content and recycling rate. This paper presents the results of a life cycle assessment case study for a secondary fence board (baseline scenario). The circular footprint formula has been used to allocate burdens and credits between the supplier and the user of recycled materials. The potential environmental impact and the most significant issues have been calculated, identified, and presented. View this paper
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22 pages, 54163 KiB  
Article
Environmental and Land-Use Changes as a Consequence of Land Reform in the Urej River Catchment (Western Tajikistan)
by Oimahmad Rahmonov, Bartłomiej Szypuła, Michał Sobala and Zebiniso B. Islamova
Resources 2024, 13(4), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040059 - 19 Apr 2024
Viewed by 756
Abstract
Mountain societies are strongly linked to natural resources and their rational management. The growing population has led to the management of mountain areas according to emerging human needs. The study was conducted in the Urej River catchment (The Fann Mountains, Tajikistan). This paper [...] Read more.
Mountain societies are strongly linked to natural resources and their rational management. The growing population has led to the management of mountain areas according to emerging human needs. The study was conducted in the Urej River catchment (The Fann Mountains, Tajikistan). This paper aims to present changes in land use in 1988–2023 resulting from environmental conditions and land reform. Pasturelands predominate in the study area (93.8%), while built-up with kitchen garden and irrigated areas cover 1.8% and 4.0% of the area, respectively. Kitchen gardens and irrigated areas provide food for the residents. Significant land-use changes were observed along the Uroz River, where the irrigation system was developed in areas that have not yet been used for plant cultivation. This is typical of many areas in Tajikistan, where it is impossible to obtain crops without irrigation due to climatic conditions. Until 1988, the study area was not as intensively cultivated as it is today. Under the ongoing lease system based on the Dehkan Farm Act, grazing land is still owned by the state, but inhabitants have access to it. The leased land does little to improve the economic situation of households but contributes to preventing ecosystem degradation on the slopes caused by humans. Full article
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14 pages, 6142 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Effect of a Spray Coating Applied on Open-Air-Stored Woodchips
by Gianni Picchi, Carla Nati, Lorenzo Brilli and Alessandro Cinotti
Resources 2024, 13(4), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040058 - 15 Apr 2024
Viewed by 818
Abstract
The present study aimed at testing the benefits of protecting woodchips with an acrylic crusting product developed for the coal energy industry. In the test carried out, four conical wood chips piles were built, two consisting of fresh biomass, the other two of [...] Read more.
The present study aimed at testing the benefits of protecting woodchips with an acrylic crusting product developed for the coal energy industry. In the test carried out, four conical wood chips piles were built, two consisting of fresh biomass, the other two of dry wood chips. A fourth larger pile was built as a reference. One dry and one fresh pile were superficially treated with 25 kg of protective acrylic solution diluted in 250 L of water, providing an average application of coating agent of approximately 85 g m−2, while the other two worked as controls. To monitor the piles’ temperature variation, thermal sensors were placed in the inner part of the five piles during their construction. Moisture content (MC) and dry matter (DM) variations in woodchip piles were recorded. The piles treated with the coating agent did not show any significant differences with the untreated piles: in wet material, the protective film slightly reduced the moisture dispersal from the pile from evaporation rather than limiting water intake from rain; in dry material, this confirms the inability of the coating agent to limit water intake from rainfall. Full article
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16 pages, 296 KiB  
Article
The Role of Internet and Social Interactions in Advancing Waste Sorting Behaviors in Rural Communities
by Xiaolan Wang, Liz Maribel Robladillo Bravo, Ricardo Fernando Cosio Borda, Luis Alberto Marcelo Quispe, James Arístides Pajuelo Rodríguez, Józef Ober, Nihal Ahmed and Nisar Ahmed Khan
Resources 2024, 13(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040057 - 9 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1097
Abstract
Addressing the global challenge of sustainable waste management, this research investigates the influence of social dynamics and digital connectivity on rural residents’ willingness to adopt waste classification practices, essential for sustainable environmental management. Through a comprehensive analysis of 5413 rural participants surveyed in [...] Read more.
Addressing the global challenge of sustainable waste management, this research investigates the influence of social dynamics and digital connectivity on rural residents’ willingness to adopt waste classification practices, essential for sustainable environmental management. Through a comprehensive analysis of 5413 rural participants surveyed in the China Labor-force Dynamic Survey (CLDS), this study employs a novel mixed-methods approach. It integrates quantitative analysis with the Manski social interaction framework and a Recursive Bivariate Probit model to explore the intricate interplay between community interactions, internet access, and environmental behaviors. Our methodology stands out for its unique combination of social theory and econometric modeling to address a pressing environmental issue. Results highlight a significant effect of mobile internet use and social interactions within communities on enhancing willingness towards waste classification. Notably, digital connectivity emerges as a key facilitator of environmental engagement, mediating social influences, and fostering a collective approach to waste management. Considering these insights, we propose targeted policy interventions that blend digital strategies with traditional community engagement efforts. Recommendations include crafting digital literacy programs and leveraging social media to bolster community-centric environmental governance. By harnessing the synergistic potential of digital tools and social dynamics, these strategies aim to elevate the effectiveness of waste classification initiatives in rural China, offering a scalable model for environmental sustainability. Full article
24 pages, 943 KiB  
Article
Navigating Legal and Regulatory Frameworks to Achieve the Resilience and Sustainability of Indigenous Socioecological Systems
by Stephen Chitengi Sakapaji, Jorge García Molinos, Varvara Parilova, Tuyara Gavrilyeva and Natalia Yakovleva
Resources 2024, 13(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040056 - 8 Apr 2024
Viewed by 983
Abstract
The sustainability of Indigenous Socioecological Systems (ISES) largely depends on well-crafted policy regulations. In particular, Indigenous traditional food systems (ITFS) are an essential component of ISES that provide a variety of culturally accepted, healthy foods while also playing an important role in cultural, [...] Read more.
The sustainability of Indigenous Socioecological Systems (ISES) largely depends on well-crafted policy regulations. In particular, Indigenous traditional food systems (ITFS) are an essential component of ISES that provide a variety of culturally accepted, healthy foods while also playing an important role in cultural, spiritual, and economic value to the Indigenous people (IP). Thus, sustainably managing these traditional natural resources must be a priority. As custodians of much of the world’s ecological system, IP have, for generations, exhibited sustainable lifestyles in governing these systems. However, Indigenous perspectives and voices have not been properly reflected in the ISES sustainability discourse, and few comparative case studies have addressed this issue. This study contributes to fill this research gap using a desktop research method based on the Political Ecological Theoretical Framework (PETF) to examine how existing regulatory policies may affect the resilience and sustainability of ISES-ITFS, especially in relation to growing environmental and climatic pressures. Two Indigenous communities, the Karen in Thailand and different Indigenous groups in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia, are examined as case studies. Our study provides crucial insight that should help the development of robust policy interventions that integrate Indigenous concerns into policies and regulations, emphasizing self-determination, cultural preservation, and land rights. The findings emphasize the necessity for comprehensive legal frameworks prioritizing Indigenous involvement and concerns in climate and sustainability policy implementations. The ultimate goal is to foster meaningful dialogues between policymakers and IP in navigating the climate and sustainability challenges of our time. Full article
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14 pages, 1507 KiB  
Article
Production and Quality Characteristics of Royal Jelly in Relation to Available Natural Food Resources
by Dimitrios Kanelis, Vasilios Liolios, Maria-Anna Rodopoulou, Fotini Papadopoulou and Chrysoula Tananaki
Resources 2024, 13(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040055 - 8 Apr 2024
Viewed by 833
Abstract
Royal jelly is a secretion produced from the hypopharyngeal glands of worker bees, which requires significant pollen reserves to stimulate gland secretion. The natural sources of food available to the hive during beekeeping season can greatly affect the quantity and quality of produced [...] Read more.
Royal jelly is a secretion produced from the hypopharyngeal glands of worker bees, which requires significant pollen reserves to stimulate gland secretion. The natural sources of food available to the hive during beekeeping season can greatly affect the quantity and quality of produced royal jelly. In this study, samples of royal jelly were collected throughout the beekeeping season, and their physical and chemical characteristics were analyzed to understand how natural variations in bee diet affect royal jelly production. Before each sample collection, the bees’ food reserves were removed from the experimental colonies so that the royal jelly was produced solely from natural sources. The results showed that the production was significantly lower during the summer months compared with spring and autumn. Additionally, the moisture, protein, fructose, and glucose content of fresh royal jelly also showed significant changes in the summer, and all physical and chemical characteristics decreased when the fresh samples were converted into dry matter. It seems that the quality of pollen entering the hives has a direct impact on the physical and chemical properties of the final product, highlighting the crucial role of available resources in stimulating bees to produce royal jelly. Full article
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28 pages, 4460 KiB  
Article
Combined Contaminant Levels from Local Harvested Food Items in the Norwegian–Finnish–Russian Border Region
by Anna Nalbandyan-Schwarz, Kristine Bondo Pedersen, Anita Evenset, Eldbjørg Heimstad, Torkjel M. Sandanger, Päivi Myllynen and Arja Rautio
Resources 2024, 13(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040054 - 8 Apr 2024
Viewed by 844
Abstract
This paper presents the results of a multidisciplinary study with the aim of assessing the potential combined risk from consuming locally harvested food products in the Euro-Arctic region of Norway, Finland, and Russia. The three important contaminant groups—radioactive substances, heavy metals, and persistent [...] Read more.
This paper presents the results of a multidisciplinary study with the aim of assessing the potential combined risk from consuming locally harvested food products in the Euro-Arctic region of Norway, Finland, and Russia. The three important contaminant groups—radioactive substances, heavy metals, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs)—were measured in food samples such as berries, mushrooms, fish, birds, reindeer, and moose; they were sampled in 2013–2015. To assess the combined pollution levels and investigate the trends, similarities, and variations between different contaminant groups, subsequent multivariate statistical analysis was performed. The results showed that, in general, the levels of radioactive substances, toxic elements, and POPs were below the permitted EU maximum content in food products. However, statistical analysis revealed some correlations, similarities, and peculiarities between the accumulation of different contaminants in various species, which allowed for a better understanding of the mechanisms of accumulation and interaction between different contaminant groups. It also gave a better insight into the possible added risks and helped pinpoint species that could serve as reference markers for the accumulation of different contaminants in food. Mushrooms, fish, and reindeer were found to be important markers in the combined risk assessments for the contents of metals and radioactive substances. Further research, as well as the development of methodologies for combined assessments, are recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women's Special Issue Series: Sustainable Resource Management)
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18 pages, 1922 KiB  
Article
Risks to Human Health from the Consumption of Water from Aquifers in Gold Mining Areas in the Coastal Region of Ecuador
by Irene Passarelli, Demmy Mora-Silva, Carla Arguello Guadalupe, Thalía Carrillo Arteaga, Rogelio Ureta Valdez, Luz María Orna Puente, María Gabriela Tobar Ruiz, Guicela Ati-Cutiupala, Marcelo Sanchez-Salazar, Salvatore Straface and Carlos Mestanza-Ramón
Resources 2024, 13(4), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040053 - 8 Apr 2024
Viewed by 865
Abstract
Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is a source of supply in many areas of the world, especially in developing countries. This is often carried out illegally using toxic substances such as mercury. Mercury, due to its chemical–physical properties and the transport factors [...] Read more.
Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is a source of supply in many areas of the world, especially in developing countries. This is often carried out illegally using toxic substances such as mercury. Mercury, due to its chemical–physical properties and the transport factors involved between the different environmental matrices, can percolate through soil and from surface water to groundwater. The objective of this study was to conduct a human health risk assessment. For this purpose, a screening of mercury concentrations was carried out, collecting 67 water samples at selected points, and a risk assessment was performed applying both a deterministic and a probabilistic approach. A deterministic approach is a specific analysis based on determining the values of the risk quotient (HQ) and the risk index (HI) for each receptor category (adults and children) and scenario (residential and recreational) considered; a probabilistic approach is based on stochastic simulation techniques and the evaluation of the statistical quantities. There was found to be a discrepancy between the results provided by the two approaches, with the deterministic approach suggesting a more worrisome picture. However, in general, the results showed a greater exposure in the provinces of El Oro and Esmeraldas, and a greater vulnerability of child receptors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mine Ecological Restoration)
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19 pages, 459 KiB  
Article
The Circularity of Materials from the Perspective of the Product Life Cycle: A Case Study of Secondary Fence Board, Part 2 (Scenario Analysis)
by Joanna Kulczycka, Anna Lewandowska, Katarzyna Joachimiak-Lechman and Przemysław Kurczewski
Resources 2024, 13(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040052 - 7 Apr 2024
Viewed by 810
Abstract
Recycling strategies demonstrate different life cycle environmental performance. In order to assess this performance, a life cycle assessment may be used. In such studies, the recycling should be linked with multifunctionality and allocation. This requires it to be modelled accordingly, especially in terms [...] Read more.
Recycling strategies demonstrate different life cycle environmental performance. In order to assess this performance, a life cycle assessment may be used. In such studies, the recycling should be linked with multifunctionality and allocation. This requires it to be modelled accordingly, especially in terms of environmental burdens and credits. The paper presents a case study of open-loop recycling. A flow of mixed post-consumer multi-material waste was reprocessed into another product with a new application—a fence board made of recycled material (secondary fence board). Although many allocation-related case studies are provided in the literature, no example of a comparison between different substitution scenarios for open-loop recycling has been found. In order to fill the gap, various hypothetical market-mix-based alternatives related to the virgin production and durability of products have been examined. The goal of the study is to assess the potential environmental impact of 1 m2 of secondary fence board modelled in different substitution scenarios. The paper is the second part of a two-part study. In Part 1, life cycle assessment results were presented for a baseline scenario (1A). Part 2 focuses strongly on allocation considerations. In order to ensure a consistency between the results of Part 1 and Part 2, the entire life cycle of the fence board has been taken into account in both calculations. The case study has shown that the results may be highly sensitive to the choice of substitutes and the choice of quality attributes impacting the reference flows (in our example, the durability of products). Full article
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11 pages, 4824 KiB  
Article
Separation of Cellulose from Wastewater and Valorisation via Pyrolysis: A Case Study in the Czech Republic
by Denisa Djordjevićová, Marco Carnevale Miino, Jakub Raček, Tomáš Chorazy, Petr Hlavínek and Zuzana Vranayova
Resources 2024, 13(4), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040051 - 5 Apr 2024
Viewed by 836
Abstract
Currently, the recovery of resources from urban wastewater (WW) represents a priority. On this topic, the potential recovery of cellulose for its subsequent reuse in different sectors is gaining interest. In this work, a large-size conventional wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was selected as [...] Read more.
Currently, the recovery of resources from urban wastewater (WW) represents a priority. On this topic, the potential recovery of cellulose for its subsequent reuse in different sectors is gaining interest. In this work, a large-size conventional wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was selected as a case study. A preliminary mechanical treatment was used, with the aim of separating, quantifying, and characterizing cellulose in WW. The results suggest that the per-capita production of dry primary cellulosic sludge (D-PCS) is equal to 1.46 ± 0.13 kgD-PCS PE−1 y−1, with an average calorific value of 21.04 MJ kg−1DM. Cellulosic fibres have an average length of >100 µm and a thickness of 2–5 µm. The D-PCS was subsequently treated via medium-temperature pyrolysis; a total of 29.5% of the initial D-PCS was converted into pyrolyzed primary cellulosic sludge (P-PCS) and only 26% into pyrolytic gas. More than 44.5% of the dried cellulose can be converted into pyrolytic oil. Moreover, three different scenarios of recovery have been considered, and the impact of cellulose separation in terms of COD fluxes entering the WWTP and potential energy recovery has been studied. The results suggested that, in this case study, the potential separation of the primary cellulosic sludge from the influent water flux would have no significant impact on COD load entering the biological treatments and biogas production in the anaerobic digestion of the secondary sludge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Wastewater Reuse)
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15 pages, 947 KiB  
Article
The Circularity of Materials from the Perspective of a Product Life Cycle: A Life Cycle Assessment Case Study of Secondary Fence Boards—Part 1 (Baseline Scenario)
by Joanna Kulczycka, Anna Lewandowska, Katarzyna Joachimiak-Lechman and Przemysław Kurczewski
Resources 2024, 13(4), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040050 - 1 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1489
Abstract
In the era of the circular economy, solutions aimed at increasing the circularity of materials and products are highly welcome. Eco-design and waste management strategies are crucial for ensuring circularity and resource-saving. Strategies should be driven by assessing life cycle-based environmental performance. Tools [...] Read more.
In the era of the circular economy, solutions aimed at increasing the circularity of materials and products are highly welcome. Eco-design and waste management strategies are crucial for ensuring circularity and resource-saving. Strategies should be driven by assessing life cycle-based environmental performance. Tools to measure this performance should take into account two recycling-oriented parameters: recycled content and recycling rate. This paper presents the results of a life cycle assessment case study for a secondary fence board (baseline scenario). The circular footprint formula has been used to allocate burdens and credits between the supplier and the user of recycled materials. The potential environmental impact and the most significant issues have been calculated, identified, and presented. A general recommendation for further environmental development of the secondary fence board is to improve the production-related energy efficiency of recycling processes and increase the recycling rate of the board (to avoid landfilling). Full article
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18 pages, 7732 KiB  
Article
Hydrochar as an Alternative to Coal: A Comparative Study of Lignocellulosic and Nonlignocellulosic Biomass
by Numan Luthfi, Takashi Fukushima, Xiulun Wang and Kenji Takisawa
Resources 2024, 13(4), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources13040049 - 31 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1344
Abstract
Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) is a widely used process for converting biomass with a wide range of moisture. Biomass selection poses challenges in producing hydrochar with desired properties because of their different constituents. In this study, we investigated the fuel properties of hydrochar of [...] Read more.
Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) is a widely used process for converting biomass with a wide range of moisture. Biomass selection poses challenges in producing hydrochar with desired properties because of their different constituents. In this study, we investigated the fuel properties of hydrochar of sorghum bagasse (SB) and microalgae (MA) at different severity factors (SFs = 4.08, 4.43, 5.56, 5.90, and 6.63) and their potential as alternatives to coal. The results show that during HTC, both biomasses underwent dehydration, in addition to the noticeable decarboxylation of MA. Fixed carbon increasingly developed in the SB hydrochar, in contrast to the MA hydrochar, which formed volatile hydrocarbon; thus, the MA hydrochar released heat values of 26.7–36.2 MJ·kg−1, which was higher than that of SB at 19.7–28.0 MJ·kg−1. However, owing to the stable hydrocarbons, SB hydrochar is assumed to combust more stably and ignite more decently, as indicated by its fuel ratio (0.83), approaching 0.9–1.5. Moreover, the greater number of solids recovered in SB after carbonization makes its conversion more techno-commercially viable, retaining 1.8 times more of the original energy. Conflating these fuel properties reveals that SB hydrochar (SF = 6.63) is a promising alternative to steam coal, and MA hydrochar is an attractive alternative to both steam (SF = 4.08–5.90) and coking coals (SF = 6.63). Concisely, both biomasses are practically promising as value-added hydrochars, but only SB can be developed beyond the current HTC severity owing to the thermal stability of its hydrocarbons. Full article
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