Reconsidering the Circular Economy Rebound effect: Propositions from a case study of the Dutch Circular Textile Valley

Thomas Siderius*, Kim Poldner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This article investigates the phenomenon of rebound effects in relation to a transition to a Circular Economy (CE) through qualitative inquiry. The aim is to gain insights in manifestations of rebound effects by studying the Dutch textile industry as it transitions to a circular system, and to develop appropriate mitigation strategies that can be applied to ensure an effective transition. The rebound effect, known originally from the energy efficiency literature, occurs when improvements in efficiency or other technological innovations fail to deliver on their environmental promise due to (behavioral) economic mechanisms. The presence of rebound in CE contexts can therefore lead to the structural overstatement of environmental benefits of certain innovations, which can influence reaching emission targets and the preference order of recycling. In this research, the CE rebound effect is investigated in the Dutch textile industry, which is identified as being vulnerable to rebound, yet with a positive potential to avoid it. The main findings include the very low awareness of this effect amongst key stakeholders, and the identification of specific and general instances of rebound effects in the investigated industry. In addition, the relation of these effects to Circular Business Models and CE strategies are investigated, and placed in a larger context in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding about the place and role of this effect in the transition. This concerns the necessity for a new approach to how design has been practiced traditionally, and the need to place transitional developments in a systems perspective. Propositions that serve as theory-building blocks are put forward and include suggestions for further research and recommendations about dealing with rebound effects and shaping an eco-effective transition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125996
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume293
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Circular economy
  • Dutch textile industry
  • Qualitative research
  • Rebound effect
  • Sustainability
  • Transition

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