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Striving for a Circular Economy of Materials – A Status Report

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Friday, April 29, 2022 10 am

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This is a past event.

Chemical Engineering Research Seminar

Barbara Reck

Yale School of the Environment


The term Circular Economy describes a vision for a world in which materials are reused over and over, minimizing the need for primary raw materials and the associated environmental impacts. Measures to increase material circularity include Design for Recycling, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling. A tool that illustrates how efficient materials are being used throughout their life cycle is material flow analysis (MFA). This talk will present recent MFA results for a variety of materials (metals, plastics, textiles, paper), covering their entire life cycles from production to end-of-life, and demonstrating for the U.S. and the world the current status of circularity. The talk will also discuss the substantial variations in recycling efficiencies among individual metals and plastic types.


Dr. Barbara Reck is a Senior Research Scientist at the Yale School of the Environment and Node Lead Systems Analysis & Integration at the REMADE Institute, a U.S. Manufacturing Institute that seeks to reduce embodied energy use in manufacturing. Dr. Reck holds a doctorate in environmental engineering from Technische Universitӓt Berlin in Germany. Prior to joining Yale in 2003, she spent seven years at Lufthansa German Airlines as Manager Environmental Affairs, where she was responsible for incorporating the latest climate, noise, and cosmic radiation research into the company’s sustainability policy. Her research focuses on the sustainability of material use in society, informing environmental and resource policy as well as circular economy assessments. Beyond her extensive work on metals (namely nickel and stainless steel) her research includes studies on plastics and fibers (pulp & paper, textiles, biogenic building materials including mass timber). She has conducted in-depth analyses on metal recycling and its energy implications, and has developed metal recycling indicators, metal criticality assessments, and scenarios on the future supply and demand of key technology metals (iron, aluminum, copper, nickel, lithium, manganese, zinc, lead).

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  • Vinh Nguyen
  • Daniel Liebau
  • Ezequiel Carrillo

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