Environmental and Social Justice Considerations in a Circular Economy

Research output: NRELPresentation


A consideration of environmental justice (EJ) and social justice (SJ) is critical to minimize the impacts of technology deployment on local communities. SJ and EJ impacts occur in specific geographic locations but can cover a wide range of effects (e.g., air pollution, access to clean water, jobs, wages, and education), making it challenging to determine which metrics are appropriate to evaluate and which data are required for qualitative or quantitative analysis. This issue is only exacerbated when the technology in question is at an early technology readiness level (TRL) without community specific data. Here, we present a framework for evaluating the human health, local environment, and job implications of processes that are at early to middle TRLs. Using a case study on enzymatic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling (middle TRL), we demonstrate how to qualitatively and quantitatively assess these EJ and SJ metrics for a circular economy context and how to communicate the results in a manner beneficial to both researchers and local communities.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting and Exhibit, 26 November - 1 December 2023, Boston, Massachusetts

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-88091


  • circular economy
  • environmental justice
  • social justice


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