Sustainability assessment and policy research

General theme: The Research Line investigates the environmental impacts, economic feasibility and Social License to Operate of new flow sheets for the extraction, recovery and/or recycling of metals and/or minerals from low-grade ores, industrial process residues, and End-of-Life consumer goods. Particular attention goes out to the legal, social and economic bottlenecks, while also assessing the opportunities and possible incentives for sustainable (inorganic) materials management. Concurrently, SIM² KU Leuven uses a multi-actor, collaborative approach to obtain and maintain the Social License to Operate for mining and recycling projects. This RL is embedded in and forms the core of the informal cluster “CE@KU Leuven” in which also other CE strategies, such as sharing economy, repair economy, eco-design etc. are studied as well as recovery technologies for biobased and composite materials.

Flagship topics:

Prospective sustainability assessments

Methodologies such as LCA, LCC, CBA, exergy, dynamic MFA are further developed and applied on sustainable inorganic materials management developments, from laboratory to industrial and value chain scale. The assessments evaluate the economic, ecological and social opportunities within new material recycling and recovery flow sheets developed by the other RLs of SIM² or external (industrial and academic) partners

Policy research and Impact assessment studies

The broader economic, legal, and environmental context (with focus on criticality of resources and impact on climate change) is taken into account in consequential sustainability studies, multi-criteria analyses of complex problems, partial and general equilibrium economic models, etc. The impact of national and European legislation on SIM² related technologies will also be covered. The aim is to come to relevant indicators for sustainable materials management, guiding policy makers in governmental agencies and companies. The policy research centre CE is the driver for this subtopic.

Social License to Operate for primary, urban and landfill mining projects

Action research and bidirectional interaction with external stakeholders, including civil society groups and local communities, are set up to ensure projects that take the local context into account. This includes stakeholder analyses on local and regional levels, local dialogue, participatory monitoring and evaluation, and multi-stakeholder governance.

The Team

The leading members in this research line are:

Prof. Karel Van Acker
Prof. Karel Van Acker
Prof. Karel Van Acker (RL Leader) is senior lecturer in sustainable materials and processes, coordinator of the Leuven Materials Research Centre at KU Leuven and Promotor-Coordinator of the policy research centre Sustainable Materials Management. He chairs the Flemish Transition Network on Sustainable Materials Management and is involved in numerous projects on sustainability assessments of material life cycles, ranging from CFRP to biobased plastics, and on urban mining and the valorisation of residues.
Prof. Valérie Cappuyns
Prof. Valérie Cappuyns
Prof. Valerie Cappuyns is senior lecturer in environmental science and technology. Her research interests include environmental geochemistry (solid-phase characterisation and leaching of heavy metals from soils, sediments and waste materials), sustainable management of contaminated sites, life cycle analysis, and eco-efficiency.
Prof. Johan Eyckmans
Prof. Johan Eyckmans
Prof. Johan Eyckmans is professor in environmental economics at KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Business, campus Brussels. His research interests include the economics of climate change (game theory and formation of international environmental agreements, integrated assessment modeling), economics of waste and materials, cost benefit analysis (valuation of environmental goods and services) and evaluation of environmental policies.
Prof. Marc Craps
Prof. Marc Craps
Prof. Marc Craps is senior lecturer – researcher at the Center for Economics and Corporate Sustainability (CEDON) of KU Leuven at Campus Brussels. He’s an organisational psychologist and cultural anthropologist with a special interest in action research for multi-actor collaboration and sustainable resources management.
Prof. Geert Van Calster
Prof. Geert Van Calster
Prof. Geert Van Calster is professor at the University of Leuven and Head of Leuven Law’s department of European and international law. He is also senior fellow at Leuven’s Centre for Global Governance Studies. His work focuses on conflict of laws (private international law), EU and international regulatory law (especially environment), and international and EU economic law.
Prof. Piet Wostyn
Prof. Piet Wostyn
Prof. Luc Alaerts
Prof. Luc Alaerts
Prof. Jo Van Caneghem
Prof. Jo Van Caneghem
Prof. Joost Duflou
Prof. Joost Duflou
Prof. Wim Dewulf
Prof. Wim Dewulf