Developing product level indicators to advance the nitrogen circular economy

Chayse M. Lavallais, Jennifer B. Dunn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Increasingly, circularity indicators for material, energy, and water systems guide circular economy design. While indicators for products made from recycled carbon-based materials are somewhat common, peer indicators for waste nitrogen-derived products are limited. It is important, however, to develop such indicators to guide emerging technologies that transform waste nitrogen into products. In this study, we summarize the nitrogen circularity indicator literature, emphasizing the agricultural and wastewater sectors. Next, we use the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, to quantify the circularity of products made from waste nitrogen in swine manure. We considered four test cases using different technologies to recover nitrogen from the manure. Our analysis indicates that technologies that seem to increase circularity on the surface may not yield a substantial increase in MCI results. Finally, we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using the MCI for product-level analysis and further developments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107167
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Circular economy
  • Indicators
  • Nitrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics


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