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Optimising environmental product life cycles: a case study of the European pulp and paper sector

Author: Van Wassenhove, Luk N. ; Gabel, H. Landis ; Bloemhof-Ruwaard, J. M. ; Weaver, Paul MINSEAD Area: Economics and Political Science ; Technology and Operations Management ; Technology and Operations Management ; Technology and Operations ManagementIn: ENV. Environmental Economics, nov. 1997, special issue on environment and resource economics Language: EnglishType of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask the Library for this articleAbstract: Policy makers are seeking to reduce the environmental impact of the European pulp and paper sector by influencing technology choices throughout its life cycle. Because of its preoccupation with existing technologies, policy risks causing perverse environmental outcomes or adverse effects on some countries' industry and trade. The scientific basis for preferring one technology over another is unclear. We explore these concerns in the case of mandatory fibre recycling using an approach that combines materials accounting methods and operational research techniques. We find that minor changes in technological assumptions result in sharply different environmental optima for the sector. Recycling offers rapid improvement in environmental performance with geographical specialization in production. An alternative of cleaner primary pulp production plus energy recovery offers potentially greater long term environmental improvement and greater geographical self-sufficiency
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Policy makers are seeking to reduce the environmental impact of the European pulp and paper sector by influencing technology choices throughout its life cycle. Because of its preoccupation with existing technologies, policy risks causing perverse environmental outcomes or adverse effects on some countries' industry and trade. The scientific basis for preferring one technology over another is unclear. We explore these concerns in the case of mandatory fibre recycling using an approach that combines materials accounting methods and operational research techniques. We find that minor changes in technological assumptions result in sharply different environmental optima for the sector. Recycling offers rapid improvement in environmental performance with geographical specialization in production. An alternative of cleaner primary pulp production plus energy recovery offers potentially greater long term environmental improvement and greater geographical self-sufficiency

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