94273 - Circular Economy

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will be aware that Circular economy is one of the key stratesies for sustainability. The student will know of the problem of scarcity of resources and raw materials. The student will learn the most important methodology to recycle waste materials. She/he will be able to use Life Cycle Assessment as most important tool for general and environmental evaluation of chemicals in the perspective of circular economy. At the end of the course the student will be albe: 1. to propose solutions that foster the circular economy in the chemical and related sectors exploitind recycling and reuse as the main tools; 2. to assess the criticity of supply of certain raw materials and to propose alternatives and/or best practices for their use; 3. to exploit the instuments of LCA for the assessment of improvements achievable through the implementation of circular economy.

Course contents

This CU is composed of three modules which are taught autonomously:

(1) Life Cycle Assessment:

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) belongs to the set of methodological tools set up in the last years, able to test the eco-sustainability of processes and used as operative approach to develop preventive actions. Also for chemical companies, it is more and more important to match economical results with a strict management of their environmental performances, because it represents a decisive factor for the determination of its competitiveness. The use of this tool, which is inserted in the framework of the more general life cycle thinking approach, can be usefully used to perform comparison among different products or processes, considering the same functional unit.

(2) Sustainability and Circularity of Material Flows

In this module students learn to apply material flow analysis to important raw materials used in the chemical industry. These will be used to develop indicators for circularity and sustainability of chemical processes.

(3) Recycling and Recovery

In this module, students learn the difference between the two terms (recycling and recovery) and the main processes to employ to treat and valorise by-products, waste and residues, according to the hierarchy suggested by the European Union.


Lecture notes and selected papers will be available for students.

Recommended reading:

ISO 14040 and ISO 14044

Brunner, P.H.; Rechberger, H. “Practical Handbook of Material Flow Analysis”. Lewis Publisher, 2004.

John Pichtel, “Waste Management Practices. Municipal, Hazardous, and Industrial”, II ed., CRC Press, 2014.

Teaching methods

Expositive lectures presenting the basic concepts and state of the art in the field, and exercise seminars.

Assessment methods

Students will be evaluated by written tests, group reports on a given case study, or individual presentations to class.

Teaching tools

The course will be taught with the aid of computer support for the projection of text and images. The slides will be left available to the students, usually uploaded on the course platform (https://emmcchir.org/moodle310/).

Office hours

See the website of Fabrizio Passarini

See the website of Luca Ciacci

See the website of Luca Ciacci


Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.