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CODE 111696
SEMESTER 2° Semester


The course deals with the transition from a linear economic model to a circular one, working on breakthrough chemical, biotechnological, and physical processes to create sustainable products using renewable raw materials and energy sources, with the aim to close production cycles and minimise waste by circulating resources. 



The teaching aims to provide students with the knowledge and tools for the inclusion of engineering aspects in environmental protection, pollution prevention, ecological transition, circular and sustainable recovery and reuse of matter, water and energy. Special attention is paid to life cycle assessment and ecological footprint, circularity and sustainability of industrial technologies.


The course will deal with the transition from a linear economic model to a circular one, as well as the potential beneficial effects that this transition may have in macroeconomic and microeconomic terms, as at level of single business and supply chain. To this end, business cases and good practices of national and international relevance will be presented and analyzed. In doing so, students will not only acquire relevant knowledge about approaches and tools to support circular economy management, but they will also gain practical indications to use such knowledge in the business context

In addition to these, other main objectives encompass:

  • increasing awareness about the key principles of the circular economy;
  • providing a structured set of knowledge and skills for an innovative and effective circular economy management;
  • being proficient in concepts such as circular economy, circular business, circularity assessment;
  • increasing the ability to develop industrial processes with a circular approach.


The course has no specific prerequisites. However, for a successful learning, basic knowledge on mathematics, chemical and physics are required.


The course foreseen oral lessons, exercises, educational field trips, use of simulation software.

As part of the innovation learning project adopted by the Bachelor Degree Course in Chemical and Process Engineering, novel tools will be used for the active learning of students. The goal is to increase students' skills via interactive, experience-based, learning methodologies (e-learning, teamwork, etc.) for enhanced student participation, using an advanced level of communication that makes the student more aware and indipendent.

Students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities on file with the University and who wish to discuss possible accommodations or other circumstances regarding lectures, coursework and exams, should speak both with the instructor and with Professor Federico Scarpa (, the Polytechnic School's disability liaison.


  • Circular Economy fundamentals: Introduction to the circular economy: theories, definitions and principles; tools and metrics used for assess circularity at business level; overview of business cases and best practices of circular processes
  • Ecodesign: Incorporating of environmental considerations into the design process. Life Cycle Thinking. Sustainability in process engineering design. Environment as an additional design requirement.
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): ISO 14040-44 standards. LCA phases: goal and scope definition; inventory analysis; impact assessment; interpretation. LCA applications.
  • Circular modeling through supporting tools: Presentation of tools used to collect, analyse and monitor the sustainability performance data of products and services; Techniques for modeling and analysis of complex life cycles. Measuring of the environmental impacts of products and services across all life cycle stages. Identification of the hotspots of the supply chain, from extraction of raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal. Sustainability reporting, carbon and water footprinting, product design, generating environmental product declarations and determining key performance indicators.
  • Case Studies: A number of circular case studies will be carried out using software packages.
  • Group Project: Teams of students will carry out a circular case study. Each team is expected to present findings and conclusions at various stages and submit a final report for assessment demonstrating making judgements and communication skills.



Teaching material and exercises will be available on Aulaweb platform.

The following book and standards could be useful a follow-up.

  1. Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy COM/2015/0614 final

  2. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Towards the circular economy Vol. 1: an economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition, 2013
  3. Gerardo Ruiz Mercado, Heriberto Cabezas. Sustainability in the Design, Synthesis and Analysis of Chemical Engineering Processes. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2016
  5. ISO Standards 14040-14044



Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



The exam consists of a project ecodesign presentation and of an oral examination. In particular, the project ecodesign consists of the realization and the presentation of the outcome of a Circular Economy project of an industrial process chosen by the student based on the teacher suggestions. The project will be presented during the oral exam and will be discussed together with the topics covered during the course.​

Three exam sessions will be foreseen during the winter session (January, February and during the Easter didactic stop of the Polytechnic School) and four exam sessions will be foreseen during the summer session (June, July, September and during the fall stop of the Polytechnic School). No extraordinary further exam sessions will be issued outside the regular Polytechnic School periods, with the exceptions of students without didactic activities in their current academic year curriculum.


The learning outcomes are assessed through the presentation of a circular economy project and an oral exam.

The project design consists of the following steps: 

1.   Choose a process/plant/supply chain within the following: traditional processes (steel mills, refineries, glass and cements production plants, waste treatment), “innovative” processes (photovoltaic, fuel cell, bioplastic, biofuels, circular economy)

2.   Analyze the process through a Life Cycle Assessment study, retrieving data by scientific literature, publications, public reports using spreadsheets and modeling software. 

3.   Identify one or more aspects (substances, materials, emissions, waste) significant from an environmental point of view 

4.   Propose one of more plant/process/supply chain alternatives and study the obtained improvements 

5.   Draw up a sustainability report showing: case study, methodology and results

The project will be presented during the oral examination. 

The exam aims to evaluate skills to apply the learning to specific case studies and to critically analyze processes from a comprehensive and holistic point of view. Quality of the presentation, correct terminology, and critical thinking skills will also be evaluated.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Affordable and clean energy
Affordable and clean energy
Sustainable cities and communities
Sustainable cities and communities
Responbile consumption and production
Responbile consumption and production
Climate action
Climate action