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Unpacking Urban Agriculture: Business Contributions to Circular Economy

  • Circular economy (CE) has received considerable interest in recent years as a strategy to resolve some of our modern urban resource challenges, and circular city models often incorporate systems of urban agriculture in their design. Much work has analyzed the benefits of urban agriculture for creating a resilient food system and as a strategy for supporting urban green space and social cohesion, however, the contributions from business models that operate within urban agriculture have not been thoroughly studied. Many urban agriculture businesses often claim high levels of resource recycling and material circularity, though whether a resource efficiency throughout the entire product lifetime (including energy and material footprint for the cultivation equipment) in comparison to current industrial strategies is truly feasible or even possible is still to be debated. This thesis builds upon work that incorporates social dimensions of CE definitions and begins to research whether the potential resource efficiency contradiction can be justified as to make urban agriculture a valid approach for circular city design. This study examined an urban mushroom farm that implements a circular business model. A qualitative summary of the business operations and resource flows were unpacked and sorted into 24 socio-economic contributions based on their interpreted relevance. The interpreted data shows that an urban agriculture business model can contribute to the building blocks of a CE through economic, ecological, social, and spatial contributions. While these contributions can contribute positively to the operationalization of CE, potential trade-offs regarding resource efficiency, use of urban space, and investment priorities need to be considered and addressed to avoid a possible watering down or greenwashing of the CE concept.

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Author:Trevor Weiss
Referee:Johannes Hamhaber, Sudeh Dehnavi
Document Type:Master's Thesis
Publishing Institution:Hochschulbibliothek der Technischen Hochschule Köln
Granting Institution:Technische Hochschule Köln
Date of first Publication:2022/08/09
Date of Publication (online):2022/08/11
GND-Keyword:Geschäftsmodell; Kreislaufwirtschaft; Pilze; Recycling; Städtische Landwirtschaft
Tag:Business model; Circular economy,; Recycling; Socio-economic contributions; Start-up; Urban agriculture
Page Number:90
Institutes:Fakultät für Raumentwicklung und Infrastruktursysteme (F12) / Fakultät 12 / Institut für Technologie und Ressourcenmanagement in den Tropen und Subtropen
Dewey Decimal Classification:500 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik
JEL-Classification:Q Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
Open Access:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International