Circular Economy in the Danish Construction and Demolition Sector

Ida Toftegaard Clausen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In recent years, sustainability has been given much attention in academia and the concept of circular economy has become increasingly popular within the field of sustainable development. One industry that has a large negative imprint on the environment is the construction and demolition sector, which is one of the biggest producers of waste, requires a lot of CO2 heavy processes and uses a high amount of virgin materials in production (EUR-Lex, 2015; European Commission B, n.d).
From the perspective of the industry association Danish Association of Construction Clients (DACC), this thesis examines how DACC can contribute to the transition towards a circular economy in the Danish construction and demolition sector. It does so by1) outlining the relevant stakeholder relations to DACC and construction client members, 2) identifying how knowledge communication problems affect DACC and construction clients in regards to the transition towards a circular economy, and 3) identifying how cognitive biases influence DACC, construction clients and other experts in relation to the transition towards circular economy. Consequently, it takes a communicative perspective on research on the circular economy in the Danish construction and demolition sector.
The research takes a case-based approach in that semi-structured interviews were conducted with six participants from different parts of the construction and demolition sector. These interviews were analysed on the basis of a theoretical framework that the author developed on the basis of transition theory, theory on communication problems between experts and decision makers and a theory on cognitive biases and their influence on decision making (Geels, 2002, 2011; Eppler, 2007; Kahneman 2012).
The analysis found that there are relatively high levels of influence and dependence between different actors in the industry in relation to the circular economy. It points to the need for better network and knowledge sharing in order to facilitate working with circular initiatives. Some communication problems were present in the political dimension but a higher number of problems were found in the market and industry dimension. Also, cognitive biases were identified in the cultural dimension. The knowledge communication problems thus seems to complicate the process of implementing circular initiatives for DACC, construction clients and other experts. Some of the most pressing issues that cause communication problems were found to be a lack of transparency and governance, little available information on the circular economy, no clear definition of the concept, no concrete tools for construction clients and unstructured processes for knowledge sharing and communication about the circular economy.
The thesis concludes that identified communication problems and cognitive biases negatively influence the transition towards a circular economy. Consequently, DACC is recommended to facilitate networking in the industry, educate construction clients on the circular economy, provide the industry with clear and concise definition, and use its influence to push the agenda politically.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages80
SupervisorsSönnich Dahl Sönnichsen