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Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Materials".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2024 | Viewed by 14095

Special Issue Editors

Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology, Centre for Research and Technology, 57001 Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: life cycle analysis; waste management; environmental impact assessment; circular economy and sustainability
Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology, Centre for Research and Technology, 57001 Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: waste management; circular bioeconomy; waste-to-energy; green logistics
Environmental Sciences, University of Thessaly, Gaiopolis, 41500 Larissa, Greece
Interests: circular economy; industrial symbiosis; solid waste management; secondary raw materials; secondary fuels; end of waste
Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology, Centre for Research and Technology, Hellas, Thermi, 57001 Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: environmental impact assessment; life cycle analysis; waste management and circular economy; sustainability; environmental informatics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable bioeconomy is a key building block within the EU vision for a modern, competitive, and climate neutral model of prosperity. Hence, the connection between the concept of circular bioeconomy and its promise of economic boost and simultaneous sustainable solutions is clearly expressed in the EU’s bioeconomy strategy. During the last decade, a constantly rising number of governments have embraced this vision to cope with changing global political contexts. Their strategies strive for a higher level of ambition, in order for bioeconomy to be a catalyst for sustainable change and transition, tackling key economic, societal, and environmental challenges. With the European Green Deal, relevant steps of integration are underway for key EU policies, such as circularity and climate, among others. Indeed, the EU transformative bioeconomy intends a shift from substitution logic toward circularity and sustainability. Within these circular bioeconomy principles, waste materials and residual biomass can be effectively reused, thus reducing drastically high waste volume. Not only does this help to solve a waste issue, but it also paves the way toward sustainable development, valorisation of waste, and generation of high value-added bio-based products.

Within this context, the aim of this Special Issue is to collect new ideas on the possible engagement of waste management processes with sustained innovation in various areas of bioeconomy through evidence derived by high-impact research studies and assessment approaches. Moreover, in this Special Issue, we aspire to present a selection of original and innovative papers highlighting the most challenging aspects relating to the comprehensive integration of life cycle thinking and multidisciplinary assessment in the nexus of sustainability, technology, and bioeconomy growth. Concepts, challenges, perspectives, and opportunities will shed light on the dynamic and forward-looking nature of environmental impact assessment tools, especially in the light of addressing the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability crucial for shaping the future circular bioeconomy. Successful paradigms of environmental that impact assessment methodology and LCA application in specific case studies from the bio-based industry are also welcomed. Papers on the aforementioned, as well as other relevant topics, selected for this Special Issue will be subject to a rigorous peer-review process with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications.

Maria Batsioula
Dr. Apostolos Malamakis
Prof. Dr. Spiliotis Xenofon
Dr. George Banias
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • circular economy
  • bioeconomy
  • life cycle analysis and thinking
  • environmental impact assessment
  • waste management
  • raw materials

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

20 pages, 10509 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Forest Biomass and Carbon Storage in Habitat 9340 Quercus ilex L. to Support Management Decisions for Climate Change Mitigation
Sustainability 2024, 16(4), 1403; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16041403 - 07 Feb 2024
Viewed by 370
Abstract
The assessment of forest biomass has been a focus of research, aiming to understand matter–energy relationships in forest ecosystems and address forestry practice issues. In recent decades there has been increased societal interest in rational forest resource exploitation, necessitating accurate biomass estimation. In [...] Read more.
The assessment of forest biomass has been a focus of research, aiming to understand matter–energy relationships in forest ecosystems and address forestry practice issues. In recent decades there has been increased societal interest in rational forest resource exploitation, necessitating accurate biomass estimation. In Greece there has been limited efforts in estimating forest biomass, and the current study focuses on habitat type 9340, “Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia forests,” located in the protected areas “GR1420004–Karla–Mavrovouni–Kefalovryso Velestinou–Neochori” and “GR1430001–Oros Pilio and Paraktia Thalassia Zoni (Mount Pilion and Coastal Sea Zone)” in the Natura 2000 network. The habitat falls within the thermo-Mediterranean zone and the study aims to estimate the biomass and carbon storage to contribute to sustainable EU forest strategies. Due to resource limitations, a generalized allometric equation was proposed as an alternative to traditional biomass estimation methods. The above-ground biomass per hectare was estimated, ranging from 16.10 to 205.27 Mg ha−1 (mean 61.91 Mg ha−1). Furthermore, two approaches were used to estimate the total biomass in the habitat: regional averages based on spatial distribution and spatial interpolation using a geographic information system. The total estimated biomass for habitat 9340 is 183,505 Mg, with the carbon storage in standing dry biomass amounting to 83,725.25 Mg. Despite the absence of sampled biomass specimens, this study combines robust statistical techniques with published empirical values to provide a solid framework for estimating assimilated CO2. Sequestered CO2 in the study area is estimated at 306,992.58 Mg. Therefore, the significant role of Quercus ilex L. in carbon storage in Mediterranean forest ecosystems is highlighted by sequestering a substantial amount of CO2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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12 pages, 403 KiB  
Article
A Framework for Assessing Hydrochars from Hydrothermal Carbonisation of Agrowaste with the Use of MCDA: Application with the Hierarchical SMAA-PROMETHEE Method
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 410; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010410 - 02 Jan 2024
Viewed by 679
Abstract
Large amounts of hydrochar have been produced during the last decade by various hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) processes. While the products of HTC seem to have widespread acceptance as valuable and efficient materials with advantages in their energy and environmental applications, which include soil [...] Read more.
Large amounts of hydrochar have been produced during the last decade by various hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) processes. While the products of HTC seem to have widespread acceptance as valuable and efficient materials with advantages in their energy and environmental applications, which include soil improvement, heavy metal recovery, and many more, a comprehensive framework for the assessment of the different hydrochars based on their characteristics is missing. In this study, a framework for the assessment of hydrochars is proposed with the utilisation of Multi-Criteria Decision-Aiding (MCDA) methodologies. A hierarchical structure of independent criteria is established on a comprehensive level including three lines of evidence (LoE), i.e., Environmental, Economic, and Social LoE, which further include the assessment criteria. Hierarchical-SMAA-PROMETHEE is proposed as the most suitable MCDA methodology to be applied for assessing hydrochars based on the proposed framework. A case study is performed to demonstrate the utility of the framework and the advantages it offers to analysts and decision-makers. Hierarchical-SMAA-PROMETHEE is a non-compensatory method that enables exploring the decision problem on more than one level (comprehensive vs. LoE) and includes robust recommendations on the preference model and the elicitation of weights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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23 pages, 2748 KiB  
Article
Demonstration of an Integrated Methodology for the Sustainable Valorisation of Bakery Former Food Products as a Pig Feed Ingredient: A Circular Bioeconomy Paradigm
Sustainability 2023, 15(19), 14385; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151914385 - 29 Sep 2023
Viewed by 635
Abstract
This study aims to demonstrate an integrated methodology for the valorisation of bakery former food products (FFP) as an ingredient of pig feed diets. The methodology involves: conducting a needs analysis and a full path traceability scheme based on Global Standards 1 (GS1) [...] Read more.
This study aims to demonstrate an integrated methodology for the valorisation of bakery former food products (FFP) as an ingredient of pig feed diets. The methodology involves: conducting a needs analysis and a full path traceability scheme based on Global Standards 1 (GS1) Organisation (Brussels, Belgium) standards, designing digital tools to support the implementation of the traceability scheme, and assessing the valorisation of FFP and, more specifically, of bakery by-products in bakery meal (BM) production, and its implementation in pig feed diet. BM production comprises various bakery by-products, which were collected, unpacked, grinded, and thermally treated. Physicochemical and microbiological analyses were conducted on BM samples, mainly focusing on nutrient composition, and the presence of aflatoxins, mycotoxins, and pathogenic microorganisms. The BM was then fed to finishing pigs (at an inclusion rate of 20% w/w), in parallel to a control group fed with a conventional pig feed diet. The animals in both dietary groups were evaluated for growth performance, and meat samples were analysed for specific quality parameters and sensory characteristics. The results show that the addition of 20% w/w BM does not significantly affect the growth performance or the meat quality of the pigs. Moreover, a sensory evaluation revealed minor differences in the sensory characteristics of the meat samples, denoting that the BM addition does not seem to dwindle the final meat product. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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12 pages, 273 KiB  
Article
Growth Performance, Welfare and Behavior Indicators in Post-Weaning Piglets Fed Diets Supplemented with Different Levels of Bakery Meal Derived from Food By-Products
Sustainability 2023, 15(17), 12827; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151712827 - 24 Aug 2023
Viewed by 656
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of different levels (15% and 20% w.w−1) of bakery meal (BM) inclusion on growth performance, welfare and behavior indicators in post-weaning piglets. Sixty post-weaning castrated male piglets were selected and divided in 3 feeding [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of different levels (15% and 20% w.w−1) of bakery meal (BM) inclusion on growth performance, welfare and behavior indicators in post-weaning piglets. Sixty post-weaning castrated male piglets were selected and divided in 3 feeding treatments: standard post-weaning diet with no BM added (CON), standard post-weaning diet with 15% w.w−1 BM added (BM 15) and standard post-weaning diet with 20% w.w−1 BM added (BM 20). Body weight (BW), average daily gain (ADG), feed intake (FI) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were recorded individually on a weekly basis. Additionally, welfare, quality behavior indicators, wounds and tail-biting incidence were assessed. The supplementation with BM in piglets’ diet had a significant impact on ADG and FCR during certain periods of the trial. BM 15 piglets showed higher ADG and lower FCR in the last week of the experiment compared to CON piglets (1278.57 ± 7.14 g vs. 905.00 ± 47.86 g and 1.69 ± 0.04 g vs. 2.35 ± 0.08 g, respectively). Overall, BM inclusion had no significant effect on performance, quality behavior characteristics and welfare (p > 0.05). The inclusion of BM at either 15% or 20% w.w−1 illustrated no detrimental effects on the overall growth parameters, welfare and behavior indicators for post-weaned piglets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
26 pages, 3771 KiB  
Article
Circular Bioeconomy Practices in the Greek Pig Sector: The Environmental Performance of Bakery Meal as Pig Feed Ingredient
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11688; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511688 - 28 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 730
Abstract
Food systems and, to an extent, the pig sector are major contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. At the same time, significant amounts of waste are produced from the food sector. The aim of this study is to examine the implementation of [...] Read more.
Food systems and, to an extent, the pig sector are major contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. At the same time, significant amounts of waste are produced from the food sector. The aim of this study is to examine the implementation of circular bio-economy practices in the Greek pig sector to improve its environmental performance. More specifically, in collaboration with a pig farm in Northern Greece and a waste management company, the collection and processing of bakery by-products was organized to produce bakery meal (BM) to integrate it in the diets of fattening and growing pigs. Using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, the environmental performance of 20% BM inclusion in pig diets was examined in comparison with the conventional feedstock. BM experimentally replaced corn, wheat, barley, and soya bean from conventional feedstock. The Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) was based on the yearly average values of feed and energy consumption to produce 1 kg of living weight of pig on the pig farm. Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) was conducted with SimaPro v3.5, using Recipe Midpoint Hierarchical v1.6. The LCIA calculations exhibited that BM inclusion in pig diets can lead to significant land occupation decrease, approximately 30%, which is mostly related to reduced wheat and soya beans. The reduction of cultivated croplands also led to reduced fertilizer and pesticide application, which improved marine eutrophication and freshwater ecotoxicity impact by 20% while it significantly reduced risks of human carcinogenic toxicity by 25%. Moreover, the Greek pig sector exhibited a 5% capacity for overall improvement of its environmental performance, which relies on minimizing logistics when the pig farm conducted collection and processing of by-products. A basic assumption of this study is the assessment of bakery by-product quantities in the wider region of the pig farm. The availability of by-products, based on the reported experience, was limited, and the reliability of the supply was frequently disrupted. As such, the supply chain model of the central hub for the collection and processing of bakery by-products is proposed as more efficient for regulating logistic challenges and availability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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16 pages, 774 KiB  
Article
Thermal Comfort, Growth Performance and Welfare of Olive Pulp Fed Broilers during Hot Season
Sustainability 2023, 15(14), 10932; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151410932 - 12 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 756
Abstract
This study evaluated the nutritional effect of dried olive pulp (OP), on broilers’ thermal comfort, growth parameters and welfare in a commercial poultry farm during the hot season. A number of 108 Cobb male broilers, 19 d olds were allocated into three dietary [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the nutritional effect of dried olive pulp (OP), on broilers’ thermal comfort, growth parameters and welfare in a commercial poultry farm during the hot season. A number of 108 Cobb male broilers, 19 d olds were allocated into three dietary groups: controls (CON), OP3 and OP6, based on the level of OP added to their diet (0%, 3% and 6%). The thermal comfort of broilers was assessed using the temperature–humidity index (THI). Broilers’ body temperature (BT) was determined weekly. OP beneficially affected the growth performance of broilers undergoing very severe heat stress, as indicated by the increased body weight gain (BWG) recorded in OP groups compared to CON during the first week of the experiment and the higher body weight (BW) of OP fed chickens at 26 d of age (p < 0.05). At 26 d of age, OP6 broilers had lower BT (40.55 ± 0.06 °C) than CON (40.78 ± 0.09 °C) (p < 0.05). A positive dietary effect of OP in welfare parameters like feather cleanliness and panting behaviour of chickens fed 6% OP was also recorded. Using OP as feedstuff is a promising feeding strategy for alleviating the adverse effects of heat stress; it also offers the potential to recycle olive by-products, leading to an efficient waste-based circular economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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20 pages, 2768 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Economic Performance of Multipurpose Collaborative Robots toward Skillful and Sustainable Viticultural Practices
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3866; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043866 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1595
Abstract
The increased cost of labor in modern viticulture stemming from the nature of operations that require physical strength and precision, coupled with labor shortages, poses a significant constraint in facilitating and scheduling seasonal activities. Therefore, autonomous collaborative robots present a potential solution for [...] Read more.
The increased cost of labor in modern viticulture stemming from the nature of operations that require physical strength and precision, coupled with labor shortages, poses a significant constraint in facilitating and scheduling seasonal activities. Therefore, autonomous collaborative robots present a potential solution for achieving sustainable development objectives and decreasing operational expenditures in agricultural operations. The current paper presents an economic assessment of collaborative robots (or cobots for short) in comparison to conventional labor for four different cultivars in Greece in a lifecycle costing methodological framework. The selected cultivars are Asyrtiko, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo, which are cultivated by two private wineries in the area of interest. All the relevant expenses of their annual production were distributed to agricultural operations, and eight scenarios were developed to compare conventional and cobot practices. The results indicate the great potential of cobots regarding specific viticultural operations such as weed control, pruning, herbiciding and topping. The adoption of cobots in these operations has the potential to contribute to sustainable agriculture by reducing labor costs and addressing labor shortages, while also increasing the efficiency and precision of these tasks. Nevertheless, the defoliation and tying operations appeared to be inefficient in most cases in comparison to conventional labor practices. Overall, the annual equivalent costs could be reduced by up to 11.53% using cobots, even though the projected lifetime of the cobots plays a significant role in the cost-effectiveness of autonomous robotic labor in viticulture. In conclusion, cobots could be instrumental in the Greek viticulture, integrating innovation and high-quality products toward sustainable agricultural development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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22 pages, 5132 KiB  
Article
An Empirical Investigation on Plastic Waste Issues and Plastic Disposal Strategies to Protect the Environment: A UAE Perspective
Sustainability 2022, 14(24), 16719; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142416719 - 13 Dec 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5439
Abstract
Due to the rise in waste, both developed and developing countries’ municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal systems are overburdened. The increased inflow of used plastic water bottles has rendered the situation difficult. Plastic usage in several forms is becoming indispensable in daily life, [...] Read more.
Due to the rise in waste, both developed and developing countries’ municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal systems are overburdened. The increased inflow of used plastic water bottles has rendered the situation difficult. Plastic usage in several forms is becoming indispensable in daily life, despite its harmful effects on humans and animals in general. Government bodies are eager to cut plastic usage in several forms, but the manufacturing costs and selling prices make it difficult to replace plastic with materials that are safe for living bodies. One such problem lies in the form of the water bottle. The use of plastic in water bottles is much more common in Gulf countries because of their geographical position and the scarcity of potable water. The large amount of plastic waste created by used water bottles is a very critical issue, as it has a severe environmental effect and is a hurdle in efforts to foster sustainable development and green initiatives. The present research undertook an empirical investigation on plastic waste issues, environmental concerns, and various mitigating initiatives. It further investigated the waste management system using closed-loop recycling for water bottles as an efficient means of managing MSW and protecting the environment in the UAE. A survey was initiated and distributed among the UAE population to study the feasibility of building such a system. The responses to the plastic waste issue and mitigating solutions were found to be encouraging. The statistical analysis showed a higher mean value of up to 4.47 on the 5-point Likert scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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12 pages, 1315 KiB  
Article
Environmental Assessment of Alternative Strategies for the Management of Construction and Demolition Waste: A Life Cycle Approach
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9674; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159674 - 05 Aug 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2015
Abstract
The management of solid waste is currently seen as one of the most important concerns that national authorities, particularly in south Europe, must address. In recent years, emphasis has begun to be paid to Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) being the largest waste [...] Read more.
The management of solid waste is currently seen as one of the most important concerns that national authorities, particularly in south Europe, must address. In recent years, emphasis has begun to be paid to Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) being the largest waste stream in the European Union that is produced by renovation and repair work on buildings, roads, bridges, and other constructions made of bulky materials such as asphalt, bricks, wood, and plastic. Many EU countries responded quickly as a result of the large amounts of such waste and the presence of hazardous substances in their composition. This study illustrates the anticipated outcomes of several CDW management strategies other than final disposal, such as recycling, reuse, and incineration, for a public-school building in Greece. In order to assess how well the chosen schemes performed in terms of various environmental criteria, the SimaPro software suite and the Ecoinvent v.3 Life Cycle Inventory database were used. In order to enhance the quality of the outcomes, inventory data from earlier studies were also employed as input data for the Life Cycle Assessment tool. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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