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Infrastructuring the Circular Economy

By Kristin Gecan

April 24, 2020

Figure 1. Underlying structure of the research approach.

Energies has published “Infrastructuring the circular economy” by ID associate professor Carlos Teixeira, ID alum Andre Nogueira (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), Weslynne S. Ashton (IIT Stuart School of Business), and Elizabeth Lyon and Jonathan Pereira (Plant Chicago).

The paper demonstrates ID’s continuing work in reimagining civic infrastructures and developing new value models for a new era:

We developed a new framework and a model for considering and allocating the variety of resources that organizations utilize when creating value for themselves, society, and the planet. … The existing infrastructures shaping production and consumption systems are usually perceived as given and unchangeable. This is one of the reasons why contemporary CE [circular economy] practices are constrained by them.

Creating distributed governance through participatory action research (PAR), ID partnered with The Plant/Plant Chicago to promote equity and sustainability, and to scale Plant Chicago efforts:

This research project not only helped build design capacity among PC [Plant Chicago] staff, increasing their ability to embed principles of sustainability and equity into their innovation processes towards CE, but it also increased their confidence in tackling complex projects at a broader scale, beyond the facility boundaries. In the process of doing so, PC transitioned from an NGO that promoted CE through research and development at The Plant to one cultivating local circular economies across the City of Chicago by convening diverse perspectives that would not otherwise have a forum in the circular economy space.

Read the full paper published by Energies.