Project

CRESTING (Circular Economy: Sustainability Implications and Guiding Progress)

Goal: CRESTING has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765198. The 4-year project started in January 2018.

The purpose of the project is to recruit 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and to train them in cutting edge systematic analysis of Circular Economy related activity and initiatives in a range of geographic and economic settings. The purpose of this is to translate critical assessment to lessons for managing the transformation to a Circular Economy.

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Date: 1 January 2018

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Tomas Santa Maria
added 2 research items
The process of developing sustainable and circular business models is quite complex and thus hinders their wider implementation in the market. Further understanding and guidelines for firms are needed. Design thinking is a promising problem solving approach capable of facilitating the innovation process. However, design thinking does not necessarily include sustainability considerations, and it has not been sufficiently explored for application in business model innovation. Given the additional challenges posed by the need for time-efficiency and a digital environment, we have therefore developed a design thinking-based framework to guide the early development of circular business models in an online and efficient manner. We propose a new process framework called the Circular Sprint. This encompasses seven phases and contains twelve purposefully adapted activities. The framework development follows an Action Design Research approach, iteratively combining four streams of literature, feedback from sixteen experts and six workshops, and involved a total of 107 participants working in fourteen teams. The present paper describes the framework and its activities, together with evaluations of its usefulness and ease-of-use. The research shows that, while challenging, embedding sustainability, circularity and business model innovation within a design thinking process is indeed possible. We offer a flexible framework and a set of context-adaptable activities that can support innovators and practitioners in the complex process of circular business model innovation. These tools can also be used for training and educational purposes. We invite future researchers to build upon and modify our framework and its activities by adapting it to their required scenarios and purposes. A detailed step-by-step user guide is provided in the supplementary material.
The Circular Sprint is a Design Thinking-based framework to support innovators in the early-stage development of a Circular Business Model, or the refinement of an existing business model concept, in a time-efficient and online manner. This User Guide is the practitioner-oriented step-by-step guide to the framework and tools presented in the article: Santa-Maria, T., Vermeulen, W. J. V., & Baumgartner, R. J. (2022). The Circular Sprint: Circular business model innovation through design thinking. Journal of Cleaner Production, 132323. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.132323
Anna Diaz Tena
added a research item
Although recent circular economy literature has emphasized the strategic role played by circular product design in private sector organizations, strategic management literature has so far overlooked the management implications of integrating circular economy strategies into new or existing products. As a result, the implementation of circular product design in private sector organizations remains unclear. The present paper aims to describe the managerial factors necessary for the implementation of value retention strategies during design and to designate a range of conditions under which each factor may arise. Examples of implementation processes (n = 24) were collected via expert interviews and compiled within a comprehensive framework based on general morphological analysis. Hence, implementation processes are represented as a combination of a limited number of process conditions. The framework is also used to describe a taxonomy of process configurations using hierarchical clustering, which indicates a strong influence of corporate sustainability maturity profiles in the implementation configurations observed. The contents of the present work help bridge the gap between strategic management and circular product design literature by providing the building blocks necessary for the integration of value-retention strategies during product planning and development.
Katelin Opferkuch
added a research item
Circular economy (CE) continues to become an increasingly important topic within disclosure frameworks and taxonomies for sustainable finance, however, early evidence points to CE not readily being included within corporate sustainability reports. Therefore, this research aims to explore how CE is emerging within the sustainability reports of companies listed in sustainability rankings. More specifically, the presence of CE within five corporate sustainability reporting elements has been investigated (when applicable): (i) the Chief Executive Officer's message, (ii) non-financial materiality assessments, (iii) references to the Sustainable Development Goal framework, (iv) targets, and (v) indicators. Qualitative and quantitative content analysis techniques were utilised to review 138 reports published in 2020 from 94 European companies, not restricted by sector. Results showed that nearly all companies are explicitly referencing CE, however, only 7% of them integrate CE within all five sustainability reporting elements. Less than one third of companies were found to include both targets and indicators for CE suggesting that overall, CE content within sustainability reports is largely superficial and inconsistent. This investigation contributes a descriptive overview of current CE reporting trends and shortcomings, as well as detailing implications relevant for academia and practitioners developing sustainability reports and/or CE assessments. The transition towards a CE requires transparency, therefore, further research and engagement is needed to better define the value of CE within external corporate communication.
Natacha Klein
added a research item
The Circular Economy (CE) is generally understood as an opportunity to transform the current unsustainable linear economic system by redesigning the way organisations provide goods and services rethinking how society consumes and uses those resources. In this context, the public sector is mainly recognised as an actor enabling the implementation of a sustainable CE through governmental interventions and policy initiatives. However, there is a lack of studies considering the public sector at an organisational level. CE in organisations includes a wide range of different practices that are important to examine in order to analyse the CE implementation process. Consequently, this study aims to characterise the current state of implementing circular practices and supporting strategies in central public sector organisations. To fulfil this aim, a questionnaire survey was sent to the organisations pertaining to the Portuguese Central Public Administration, as surveys are valuable tools to systematically collect information on various topics. The results demonstrate a relatively low level of implementation. Circular practices such as purchasing remanufactured or used items, using sharing platforms, increasing the efficiency of buildings, adopting green human resources and collaborative initiatives for circularity, and assessing and communicating about CE activities have presented low levels of adoption. At the same time, waste collection for recycling and dematerialisation practices showed good implementation levels. There is, thus, immense potential for further implementation of circularity in central public sector organisations in Portugal. This research contributes to deepening the understanding of the extent to which circular practices are embedded in public sector organisations and identifying the main implementation strengths and weaknesses. This research has the potential to help practitioners and researchers in the transition towards circularity in identifying circular opportunities in their organisations and in building a vision to further implement circularity in public sector organisations.
Tomas Santa Maria
added a research item
The circular economy is promoted as a contributor to sustainable development; however, the process of circular business model innovation remains under‐explored to date, hindering its implementation. Dynamic capabilities research provides a theoretical perspective to explore how incumbent firms can innovate in rapidly changing environments. An abductive qualitative research is done through an exploratory multiple case study on 10 incumbents that implemented a circular business model innovation. We identify 26 practices, aggregated in 12 micro‐foundations of the dynamic capabilities of sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring. By integrating the few empirical studies characterizing dynamic capabilities for sustainability‐oriented business model innovation, we offer a comprehensive framework of 33 practices. This study proposes that the most relevant practices for circular business model innovation processes are adopting a lifecycle perspective, employing sustainability‐oriented instruments, ideating sustainable value propositions, developing a sustainability strategy and culture, and engaging and coordinating stakeholders in the business ecosystem. We also suggest seven particularly relevant practices for long‐term business model transformations (e.g., top management commitment), four for innovations focused on short and medium loops of the circular economy (e.g., early customer engagement), and four for long loops (e.g., business ecosystem coordination). This study corroborates and expands recent research on dynamic capabilities for sustainability‐oriented innovation and provides practitioners with a set of 33 skills, processes, procedures, and activities to be prioritized to successfully innovate their business models for the circular economy.
Kieran Campbell-Johnston
added a research item
Critical raw materials are essential for the sustainability transitions, e.g. energy, digital and mobility of the European Union (EU). • Current electronics product design and waste policies fail to adequately integrate critical raw materials in the product design phase and recycling practices, resulting in many being lost in the waste stage. • We propose changes to European Union product and waste policy, including specifi ed waste monitoring and recovery strategies for critical raw materials (beyond mass-based targets), eco-design changes, and assessment of and fi nancing for critical raw materials recovery. • Legal implications and paths forward for these proposals are presented. 4 | Utrecht University 5 |
Anna M. Walker
added a research item
While academic literature related to sustainability assessment approaches in circular inter-firm networks continues to grow, little is known about the implementation and applicability of these approaches by industry practitioners across their supply chains. This chapter therefore compares the proposed approaches from the literature with those applied in practice according to four criteria: balance of sustainability dimensions; the intergenerational nature of sustainability; stakeholder involvement; and life cycle thinking. Empirical data was collected through 43 semi-structured interviews with companies engaged in CE practices in Italy and the Netherlands. It was found that CE actors saw sustainable supply chains as a priority, even though about a third of the respondents did not conduct sustainability assessments across supply chains. The main reasons for this were the small size of companies or, for larger companies, the limited importance clients attributed to the sustainability impacts of products. The supply chain assessments conducted were mostly qualitative, in collaboration with firms’ supply chain partners, or a life cycle assessment. It further emerged that, rather than relying on the assessment results, companies ascribed high importance to supply chain management tools and to a relationship based on trust with their supply chain partners.
Martin Calisto Friant
added a research item
In recent years, the concept of the ‘Circular Economy’ has moved to the center of political and academic discourse on sustainability, industrial innovation, eco-efficiency and socio-ecological change. But what do people really mean when they talk about the Circular Economy? There are very few studies that compare and clearly differentiate the multitude of different circular economy discourses and visions. Martin Calisto Friant, PhD researcher at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, addressed this key knowledge gap by developing the first typology of Circular Economy discourses, which reviews and conceptually classifies over 70 circularity concepts from the early 1950s to the present day. REVOLVE Circular sat down with him to learn more.
Martin Calisto Friant
added 2 research items
The short opinion piece explores the concept of circular economy, by discussing its key challenges, its precursors and its many related concepts and visions. It thereby reflects on the potentials and shortcomings of this new paradigm and whether it can help us address the key socio-ecological challenges of the 21st century.
The circular economy (CE) has become a key sustainability discourse in the last decade. The Netherlands seeks to become fully circular by 2050 and the EU has set ambitious circularity targets in its CE Action Plan of 2015. The plastics sector, in particular, has gained a lot of attention as it is a priority area of both the EU and Dutch CE policies. However, there has been little research on the different and often contested discourses, governance processes and policy mechanisms guiding the transition to a circular economy and society. This paper aims to fill these gaps by asking what circular discourses and policies are being promoted in the Netherlands and what sustainability implications and recommendations can be drawn from it. It does so through a mix of media analysis, policy analysis, semi-structured interviews, and surveys using Q-methodology. Results indicate a dominance of technocentric imaginaries, and a general lack of discussion on holistic, and transformative visions, which integrate the full social, political, and ecological implication of a circular future. To address those challenges, this research brings key policy insights and recommendations which can help both academics and practitioners better understand and implement the transition towards a sustainable circular plastics economy.
Katelin Opferkuch
added a research item
An emerging research area is dedicated to developing approaches for assessing the ‘circularity’ of companies and their products, within the context of sustainability goals. However, empirical evidence on the uptake of these assessment approaches remains scarce. Using a purposive sampling, we conducted a survey receiving 155 responses and held 43 semi-structured interviews with Dutch and Italian companies active in circular economy (CE), pursuing three research aims: to explore the use of CE and sustainability assessment approaches; to study the process of developing assessment approaches; and to uncover benefits of—and barriers to—CE assessment. While we find high variability of assessment approaches, most often, companies develop tailor-made sustainability indicators and apply life cycle assessments to CE strategies. Importantly, assessment development for CE practices requires and facilitates collaboration with external stakeholders. Finally, we reflect on the paradox of standardisation versus tailoring of assessment approaches within the CE reality and recommend establishing company needs and capabilities before designing assessment approaches.
Pauline Deutz
added a research item
Circular economy (CE) literature discusses the need for cooperation between different stakeholders to promote a CE; there is also an assumption regarding the benefits of loop closing on a local or regional scale. However, the potentially conflicting priorities, understandings, and expectations of the stakeholders involved have not been sufficiently addressed. Regional (or local) authorities have a responsibility to promote prosperity for stakeholders in their administrative region, within the constraints of national policy; conversely companies can have financial imperatives associated with stakeholders who may be globally distributed. Evidence of these conflicting priorities, the various positions stakeholder take, and their expectations of each other can be seen in the language choices regional actors make in their public-facing policy and report documents. The aim of the paper is to consider the challenges for creating a regional-scale CE that might arise from the differing priorities and values of companies and public agencies relating to specific places. It uses discourse analysis (including critical approaches) to examine how policy and business documents represent the stakeholders of the CE, their place in it, their priorities, and, importantly, the relationship between CE actors, focusing on the case of North Humberside on the North East coast of England. The plans set out in these reports are designed for external stakeholders and allow us to gain an insight into company and policy thinking in relation to CE developments in the coming years, including how they view each other’s roles. Findings indicate a shared motivation across scales and sectors for the CE as a means towards sustainable growth within which business plays a central role. However, there is a critical double disjuncture between different visions for implementation. First, between policy scales, a regional-scale CE is prioritised by regional policymakers, who have an interest in economic advantage being tied to a specific place and call for national scale support for their actions. Second, between regional policymakers and business, companies focus on their own internal operations and potential supply chain collaborations, with little attention given to the regional scale. This can be seen in the way organisations represent the actors of a nascent CE differently. In addition, a hegemonic business-focused growth discourse excludes other visions of the CE; the public are relegated to a passive role primarily as consumers and recipients of under-specified “opportunities” of wealth creation. CE theorisations need to incorporate and address these critical perspectives in order to support the development of strategies to overcome them.
Anna Diaz Tena
added 2 research items
Repair is an essential part of the transition towards a circular economy by recovering full functionality of faulty products or components, and thus, extending the product usage phase. This is seen as a core strategy to obtain desired environmental impact like waste reduction and resource conservation. Beyond that, repair services also affect societal and economic aspects like the number of local jobs. To realize the potential, supply with as well as demand for repair services has to be ensured. In this study we report on how the city of Graz, Austria deals with challenges related to this by introducing a public funding scheme for repair services to increase demand, and funding and organizing a repair network to strengthen the suppliers. By means of a case study, we explore success factors and critical aspects related to setting up a repair network, and provide insights into the interplay of a financial incentive scheme for promoting repair. Key findings show that: (1) having the local government as the network organizer facilitates the integration of multiple sectors but might jeopardize the network’s sustainability due to political reasons; (2) the interplay between public funding and the repair network is effective, but network heterogeneity induces risk; (3) cooperation within the network can improve price and service quality and thus, affect customer demand, but lacking awareness of repair in general and the repair network constrains demand. These insights and the related discussion result in the identification of future research opportunities and related questions.
Over the last years, academic literature has made significant progress on the development of key concepts, identifying circular product typologies, developing assessment methods, and exploring the synergies with manufacturing trends such as digitalisation or environmental management. Nevertheless, less attention has been paid on describing process model changes necessary for the implementation of circular product development. For this reason, this paper presents the circular Sustainable Product Development (cSPD) morphological field, aimed at providing implementation guidance to business and industry. It describes possible reconfigurations of the Sustainable Product Development (SPD) process model to further integrate circularity R-strategies, design scopes, design guidelines, inter- and intra-organisational actors and criteria for evaluation. With this framework, we intend to identify the most defining parameters in the process model and assign them a discrete number of categorical values so that different combinations explain the generation of prevalent circular product typologies in the manufacturing of durable goods.
Kieran Campbell-Johnston
added a research item
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a proposed policy approach to promoting the circular economy (CE) within the European Union. This research used a policy Delphi to explore perspectives on improving EPR policies to further contribute to the CE goals of the Netherlands. Both the potential improvement and critical reflections discussed by CE and EPR experts and practitioners from this study contribute to a more detailed understanding of the future governance of CE practices. We present various activities to improve EPR and insights from Delphi participants that emerged from the study. This paper shows that whilst actors agree, in essence, that there is a need for modifying EPR, what the specific changes to the form are and to whom the new responsibilities apply is contested. K E Y W O R D S circular economy, Delphi study, extended producer responsibility, recycling, The Netherlands
Natacha Klein
added a research item
The circular economy (CE) is seen as a model of production and consumption where resource use is reduced and extended in closed-loop life cycles. Organisations have been fundamental in contributing towards CE for which limited outcomes are known from public organisations. This research aims to identify the factors influencing the implementation of CE and the strategies that support such implementation in the public sector. An organisational change management perspective was taken. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with employees from the central public sector in Portugal to gather insights. Results reveal issues such as organisational culture, CE awareness for people in public sector organisations and leadership related to areas of strategy and management, human resources, and communication and assessment as key elements to consider in shifting towards circularity for this type of organisation. This study contributes to the research that has called for an expansion of the scope of CE to include human-based issues by viewing a public organisation as a multi-dimensional system transitioning to circularity.
Erik Roos Lindgreen
added a research item
PurposeMethods and tools to measure Circular Economy (CE) are in an early stage of development, especially on the micro level, and only limited guidance is available to companies’ decision-making processes related to CE solutions. In this context, the aim of this paper is to explore the suitability and effectiveness of grey literature CE indicators and the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method in measuring circularity at product or process level.Methods The analysis is based on two different comparative case-studies specifically related to the packaging sector, including glass and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, and to the food waste (FW) management sector, focusing on specific FW treatment activities. A review-of-reviews of CE metrics at the micro level is presented first in order to provide a theoretical overview on this specific theme and identify the available grey literature CE indicators and the role of LCA. Then, inventory data from both case studies are used as input to calculate LCA indicators as well as selected product-level grey literature CE indicators. Finally, the results are compared to critically analyze the potentiality in assessing circularity of these two streams of CE micro level assessment (LCA and CE indicators).Results and discussionThe main findings underscore that despite the common purpose of the selected CE indicators, the results related to the circularity performance may strongly vary depending on the evaluated case study and on the type of grey literature CE indicator that is applied. Regarding the application of the LCA method, the results highlight that, although a product may present high circularity performance, it does not necessarily carry lower environmental burdens. In addition, the LCA method allows obtaining useful information about both the environmental and circularity performance of the assessed case-studies.Conclusions The LCA method is presented as a suitable and effective method that businesses can apply to start a commitment towards CE. LCA can be considered the basic structured system on which to build a more complete metric framework for quantification of CE, specifically for companies that are aiming to operate more sustainably. On the contrary, grey literature CE indicators may not be always appropriate for assessing specific sectors or effectively contribute to assess environmental sustainability.
Tomas Santa Maria
added a research item
The Circular Economy (CE) is commonly promoted as a contributor to Sustainable Development, however, the implementation of Circular Business Models (CBM) in the market has been low, due in part to the complexity of operationalizing CE-based ideas and the lack of guidelines for firms. Design Thinking has been identified as an innovative problem-solving approach, capable of addressing complex challenges through multidisciplinary collaboration, such as CBM development. The COVID-19 crisis has imposed mobility restrictions and social distancing, which has accelerated organizations digital transformation and has pushed them to develop virtual collaboration capabilities. Accordingly, the present research aims to explore the application of Design Thinking to guide and facilitate the early-stage development of CBMs in an online collaboration context. Following a literature review and expert feedback rounds, the original Design Sprint process was combined with best practices from the Business Model Innovation (BMI) and CE-oriented innovation literature, modifying it to (i) embed a focus on sustainability/circularity, (ii) aim for outputs at the business model level-beyond the specific product or service-, and (iii) adapt to a digital environment. The adapted process and exercises were tested and refined in different scenarios, including two workshops with master level students, one workshop with a CE-academic consortium, three workshops with a start-up and three workshops with a corporate multistakeholder innovation project. Data was collected in the format of feedback surveys, workshop output documentation and researcher/facilitator notes. The proposed Circular Sprint-or Design Thinking Sprint for Circular Business Model Innovation-considers twelve consecutive exercises to be done in three half-day workshops, going through seven distinctive phases i.e. inspire, understand, define, ideate, decide, prototype and test, plus a pre-workshop problem framing session and a CBM introduction, all of it supported through an online visual collaboration platform. Results suggest the adapted design thinking process was effective in creating a common understanding of an issue from a life cycle perspective, allowed to ideate possible solutions in a constrained time, facilitated the decision-making process and supported the design of novel business models. However, the quality of outcomes depended on organizational settings, project maturity level and expert facilitation. Findings indicate that propositions were biased to previous knowledge and interests of participants, highlighting the relevance of idea cross-pollination mechanisms and the importance of a clear problem framing phase at the beginning of workshops. Embedding sustainability/circularity and a business model perspective from the onset has proven to be a challenging aspect, to be improved in future workshop iterations. Results also suggest online collaboration is positive for effective time management and homogenous contribution from participants, though limiting engagement. This research contributes to the development of the emergent Circular BMI field, integrating developments of the conventional BMI literature and design research fields; and will provide practitioners with an actionable framework to support the complex Circular BMI process, including a set of tools that could be flexibly adapted to different organizational contexts.
Estephania Delgadillo Jaime
added a research item
While many models for sustainable product-service systems (PSS) integrate the multi-actor perspective, few provide insights on how the territory in which actors implement the system influences its sustainability. This paper explores the implementation of a territorial PSS at a city or regional scale as a means to structuring value networks and enhancing its sustainability potential. The research combines a multidisciplinary literature review with two exploratory sustainable PSS cases in packaging and cloth baby diapers. The paper proposes a framework explaining how sustainable PSS providers develop territorial networks that consider a diversity of actors from civil, industrial, and public spheres to mobilize resources for value creation at organizational, network, and territorial levels. It identifies contextual factors, such as proximity, social embeddedness of relations, and the visions that influence the consolidation and sustainability of the territorial PSS networks. The empirical cases show the development of territorial networks enhances embed social relations among actors and enables the sustainable PSS concept to adapt to locally articulated sustainability principles and priorities. The paper discusses the implications of this approach for PSS for sustainability managers and designers. The study fills a gap by showing the importance of integrating a diversity of territorial actors as a pre-condition for PSS to contribute to the sustainability transitions and resilience of territories. Future research may validate the proposed framework and focus on identifying opportunities and barriers for the territorial PSS approach in different contexts such as industries and company sizes.
Katelin Opferkuch
added a research item
A growing commitment from companies to implement circular economy (CE) strategies demands the development of guidelines for consistent related external communication. The fields of non-financial reporting and sustainability are well established with numerous available international reporting frameworks and approaches; however, there is still an absence of standardised reporting principles and procedures for publishing progress on circularity. In this context, this article aims to explore how companies could include CE within their corporate sustainability reports, through an academic literature review and content analysis of existent reporting approaches. Results showed a clear disconnection between CE and sustainability reporting literature. Overall, only a few of the revised reporting approaches explicitly mention CE, and the guidance given to companies is very general, inconsistent and places the responsibility of selecting performance assessment approaches on the companies. The analysis contributes to identifying opportunities for transparent external communication of CE issues, as well as exploring the challenges and limitations.
Małgorzata Lekan
added 3 research items
The new transformative circular economy paradigm, which emerged to address global challenges such as growing resource scarcity and climate change, has gained momentum among scholars and practitioners in recent years. Currently, circular economy (CE) discourse and practice is greatly focused on techno-managerial and profit-oriented mainstream economic processes whilst significantly overlooking alternative economic practices that generate social value. Very few studies have attempted to conceptualize CE using a diverse economy perspective that challenges mainstream representations of global capitalism and reveals the diversity of local economic activities and practices. We propose that a more holistic approach to the CE debate offers the potential to couple ecological premises of CE thinking with mission-driven social enterprises that tackle poverty and inequality, promote communitarian mode of functioning, and address environmental issues. This contribution presents initial conceptual findings of a research project aiming to explore interrelationships between the mainstream and alternative economic spaces for the CE development. In doing so, it draws upon the literature on alternative economic spaces, diverse economies, social metabolism and social embeddedness; and employs two case studies: 1) heidenspass – a social enterprise project, which engages young individuals in reuse and upcycling activities across the wood/interior design, textile and food sectors in the city of Graz, Austria; 2) EMS, Ltd. - a social enterprise in the city of Hull, the UK, which is committed to alleviating food poverty by rescuing food waste. The key research methods included interviews with employees, interactive mapping sessions as well as empirical observations. The research presents social circular enterprise as an entity entangled in the complex web of social and material relations that span mainstream and alternative economic realms. By examining how social enterprises and their alliances stimulate transposition of resources in a given institutional context, yet across the two economic spheres, the paper explores the meaning of such cross-realm interactions for the development of a more social and inclusive CE. It concludes that understanding complex relationships underpinned by monetary and non-monetary, material and non-material transactions, as well as ever-evolving political, socio-ecological and economic contexts in which social enterprises are embedded, is important when studying transition pathways towards a more sustainable CE.
In recent years, the circular economy (CE) paradigm has emerged as a mainstream policy discourse having the potential to disrupt linear economic development pathways by extracting and retaining the maximum value from existing resources through their recirculation. Highlighting the diverse circuits of value implicated in local CE development, this article considers how the ecological (material) and extraeconomic (social) premises of CE thinking can be harnessed through mission-driven social enterprises (SEs). Using a case study of a SE project in Graz, Austria, which is engaged in CE activities across the textile, interior design/wood, and food sectors, it proposes a novel heuristic framework for examining the role of circuits of value in constructing alternative circular narratives and local circular economic development trajectories. In doing so, this framework positions SE as an entity entangled in a complex web of interconnected material and social relations and practices that occur across coexisting mainstream and alternative economic spaces of production, exchange, and consumption. By aligning the CE concept with circuits of value, the article further shows the importance of mapping and conceptualizing value flows and feedback loops associated with the local development of the CE in a given spatial and temporal context.
Tomas Santa Maria
added a research item
The implementation of Circular Business Models in the market has been low, due in part to the complexity of operationalizing Circular Economy-based ideas. Design Thinking is an innovative problem-solving approach, capable of addressing complex challenges through multidisciplinary collaboration, such as Circular Business Model development. Business Model Innovation, digitalization and time-pacing have been discussed as key sources of competitive advantage. Accordingly, the present research aims to explore the application of Design Thinking to guide a time-efficient early-stage development of Circular Business Models in an online collaboration context. A bespoke three-day workshop and its respective tools have been developed and refined through iterative phases of literature review, expert practitioner feedback, academic discussion and an ongoing action research phase that includes testing in six different scenarios. The original Design Sprint process was combined with best practices from the Business Model Innovation and Circular Economy-oriented innovation literature, modifying it to (i)embed a focus on sustainability/circularity, (ii)aim for outputs at the business model level, and (iii)adapt to a digital environment. The proposed Circular Sprint -or Design Thinking Sprint for Circular Business Model Innovation- considers a preparation phase and twelve consecutive exercises, going through seven distinctive phases in three half-days. Preliminary results suggest that embedding sustainability/circularity and a Business Model perspective to Design Thinking is plausible though challenging, requiring tool and process adaptations. Expert facilitation and balanced diversity of participants profiles are relevant for the workshop success. The online collaboration format is suggested as positive for effective time management and homogenous participation, though limiting engagement.
Anna M. Walker
added a research item
The circular economy (CE) concept has become a major interest for companies, promising new business opportunities and a decrease in environmental impacts. Though research on circular business models has recently increased, few scholars have investigated how companies engaged with CE view the connection between CE and sustainability. To address this gap, this paper uses a semi-quantitative survey and semi-structured interviews conducted with companies based in Italy and the Netherlands. Purposive sampling was employed to target firms associated with national and international CE networks, as these companies already engage with CE practices. The survey was distributed online to over 800 firms, of which 155 provided information on their understanding of the CE concept and its relationship with sustainability. The survey results are complemented through findings from 43 interviews with a subset of the survey respondents. The survey answers show that companies view CE as one of the tools to achieve sustainable development, particularly in the environmental domain, where the focus lies on environmentally friendly resource use. Yet, the respondents are less confident whether CE increases economic and social benefits of firms. Interviews show that a majority of respondents position sustainability as the overarching concept. However, most companies advocate that the private sector should strive for both sustainability and circularity, though the distinction between the two concepts in daily business operations seems synthetic and futile to some. These findings provide an important stepping stone for better understanding how firms could apply CE practices to move towards a more sustainable society.
Tomas Santa Maria
added a research item
Circular Economy (CE) is commonly proposed as a means to advance towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Design thinking (DT) has been identified as an innovative problem-solving approach, capable of addressing complex challenges, such as the CE, through multidisciplinary collaboration. Currently, the spaces for multi-stakeholder collaboration have been affected by Covid-19 restrictions, forcing organizations to develop online collaboration capabilities. Accordingly, this study aims to assess the effectiveness of the application of DT to generate CE-based solutions to address a sustainability challenge in an online setting. The assessment particularly addresses the extent to which a purposefully adapted DT process allows to conceptualize sustainability solutions, and, the user experiences in a digital collaboration environment. This research presents the findings obtained from an online DT workshop focused on proposing circular business models to improve the sustainability impacts of urban mobility in the city of Graz, Austria. The event involved 39 sustainability experts from academia, industry, public sector and NGOs, participating in five teams, each led by a workshop facilitator. Three specific activities have been elaborated to embed a focus on sustainability, which are combined with traditional DT exercises, and adapted to a digital environment. We report the outcomes of the online workshop and reflect on the adapted method strengths and weaknesses. DT is supported as a plausible method to conceptualize CE-based solutions, however, sustainability aspects need to be embedded throughout the problem-solving process.
Hinrika Droege
added 2 research items
To seize the potential of Circular Economy (CE) organisations need to evaluate and communicate their progress moving away from the non‐sustainable paradigm of ‘take‐make‐dispose’ towards circularity. Existing CE assessments for organisations focus on companies. Although the need for CE assessment is recognised in both public and private sectors, little progress has been made towards developing an approach for public sector organisations. CE assessment in public sector organisations is particularly important due to their role model, agenda setting and economic function. Therefore, this article co‐develops a CE assessment framework for public sector organisations. Portuguese public sector organisations were involved as a participatory case study. The result is a framework that covers the following components: (i) a system definition; (ii) a definition of 35 CE assessment elements; (iii) CE assessment targets; and (iv) CE indicators. The framework contributes to the understanding of circularity from a public sector perspective considering three key aspects: resources, operations and processes as well as social and employee related activities. Implications for CE assessments in the public and private sector encompass the importance for an early involvement of stakeholders to get a sector specific perspective, the need to address user‐friendliness and the requirement for continuous testing of CE assessments.
Circular Economy (CE) is seen as a key strategy in achieving sustainable development and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To seize the potential of CE, public and private organisations need to evaluate and communicate their progress moving away from the non-sustainable paradigm of “take–make–dispose” towards circularity. The literature and practitioners demonstrate a growing interest in CE assessment as a driver for this transition. Nevertheless, the majority of CE assessments are implemented in private companies and implementation in public sector organisations is low. This article presents the challenges that currently prevent public sector organisations from implementing CE assessment and derives strategies to overcome them. A total of 21 CE and assessment experts from the Portuguese public sector were interviewed, and the results were triangulated with an extensive policy document review. The findings show that cultural barriers, particularly a lack of public and political pressure as well as a resistance towards change, are considered the main challenges for CE assessment implementation. Cultural challenges drive structural ones such as a lack of leadership commitment, the voluntary nature, and a missing clear governance for CE assessment. Technical and financial challenges, contrary to previous findings of the literature, are not prioritised and are seen as a result of the cultural and structural challenges. Overall, the research suggests that CE assessment is often a discussion among academics and highly specialised practitioners. In order to drive its implementation, the debate has to involve stakeholders beyond expert circles to trigger awareness for its necessity and to facilitate usage for a broader audience.
Natacha Klein
added 2 research items
Circular economy (CE) is a concept that is gaining attention as an approach to help accelerate the transition towards sustainability. Research has focused on the adoption of CE practices in the business sector while the adoption within public sector organisations has been relatively overlooked. Examining CE adoption in the public sector through the perceptive of employees is crucial because of their expertise in the organisation where they work. The main aim of this study is to identify what public employees perceive as suitable CE practices for their organisations and their critical role in implementation. As the adoption of CE practices is influenced by social and material configurations, this research has taken a case study approach, focused on the Portuguese Central Public Administration. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with public employees working on CE and sustainability issues, and a complementary analysis was undertaken of governmental reports and legislative documents. The results show that public employees view the existence and potential of CE practices mainly in the area of public procurement but also in resource efficiency and optimisation, dematerialisation and in practices related to the R-hierarchy including reduce and reuse. Both technical-oriented practices aimed to achieve traditional resource efficiency, and human-centred practices targeted at reducing consumption and sharing resources have been identified. This research provides insights into how a specific group of stakeholders envisions CE activities for their sector. Identification of practices for central public sector has the potential to assist decision-makers in the process of defining priorities for CE planning, implementation and monitoring. This study focusing on CE practices in central public sector organisations contributes to the calls for an inclusion of human/socially-based practices centred around consumption reduction, sharing and dematerialisation activities to enhance the transformative and innovative potential of CE.
Tomas Santa Maria
added a research item
Widespread adoption of sustainable and circular business models is encouraged for a transition towards a sustainable future, however, implementation in incumbent firms has been slow. The process of circular business model innovation (CBMI) remains under-explored, resulting in lack of guidelines for firms interested in the circular economy. Through a multiple case study (n=13) on companies that have implemented a CBMI, the following research question aims to be answered: How does the process of CBMI happen in incumbent firms and what best practices can be identified? Through an abductive analysis of data, a set of eleven best practices for CBMI have been synthesized, contributing to the emergent literature of the topic and providing guidance to practitioners.
Anna Diaz Tena
added a research item
The concept of circular economy (CE) is of great interest for manufacturing companies since it provides a framework which allows them to align organisational objectives with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Corporate CE entails the adoption of several value-retention options (R-strategies) throughout companies’ operations, which aim at creating, preserving and recovering the value of assets and products. The sustainable product development (SPD) process, in which around 80% of the total environmental impact of a product is determined, is employed to translate R-strategies into new product requirements. This study is aimed at investigating the implications of R-strategy adoption for decision-making in SPD. The research follows an empirical approach, combining a literature review and in-depth semi-structured interviews with product developers and sustainability experts working in companies operating in the technical material cycles of the CE. Thus, implications for product dimensions, inter- and intraorganisational actors, decision-making support types and lifecycle information flows so that SPD processes further accommodate CE principles into products are investigated. This study reveals new directions to adjust the contextual factors of SPD to further align existing processes with widely expanding CE organisational cultures.
Heather Rogers
added a research item
Repair is an essential aspect of circular economy (CE) strategies to extend the life of products and materials, and has further been suggested as a key sector to benefit from employment through CE transitions. At the same time, CE narratives around repair have been criticised as highly technocratic, neglecting the body of literature exploring repair as a relational act embedded in daily life. Hull, UK has been characterised as a structurally disadvantaged city, which might benefit from development opportunities offered through an expanded repair economy. However, a better understanding of the demographics of repair users is needed to promote its expansion. Therefore, this research aims to increase understanding of public perceptions, attitudes and behaviours relating to repair as both an option for consumers and as potential employment. The study combines literature in CE, human geography, and consumer behaviour to critically analyse a public survey (n = 740) conducted in partnership with Hull City Council. Results explore demographic associations with repair behaviour, identifying a profile of repair economy participants. Furthermore, an interdisciplinary discussion identifies a tension between repair as an act of necessity, which often carries a negative stigma, and that of choice for those privileged with skills and excess leisure time. Gender discrepancies between public perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours are identified, and policy recommendations for the development of an inclusive repair economy are made. While an opportunity for an expanded repair economy in the city is apparent, further research is needed to assess the quality of work in the sector.
Anna M. Walker
added a research item
Despite the frequent association of circular economy (CE) with sustainability, most CE practices have yet to prove they actually contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and social aspects in particular. To attain the consensually established targets in the SDG framework, it is vital to assess the impact of CE practices. As most of these practices are carried out in a network of actors, sustainability assessment approaches from the fields of industrial ecology and supply chain management are particularly suitable. However, both fields are known for their limited inclusion of the social dimension. While scholars have already started to explore the assessment of social sustainability within the context of CE practices, little is known about the perspectives and experiences concerning social assessment of businesses actively engaged with CE. Thus, the authors conducted 43 semi-structured interviews with frontrunner companies engaged with CE in Italy and the Netherlands to obtain a better picture on (1) how these firms view the importance of the social dimension as part of the assessment of CE practices, (2) what the barriers to conducting social assessment are, and (3) whether they have experience with assessing social sustainability aspects within their companies and supply chains. Through a thematic analysis, it was found that most companies deem the social dimension to be relevant to CE assessment and either consider it an integral part of CE or of sustainability. However, a majority of the companies did not conduct any type of social assessment. Most companies which implemented assessments did so in a qualitative manner or used industry-based sustainability indicator frameworks. Notwithstanding the prevalence of social life cycle assessment in the academic realm, almost all interviewees mentioned barriers to its application related to its complexity and the lack of a standardised approach.
Tomas Santa Maria
added a research item
Widespread adoption of sustainable and circular business models is required to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable society, however, the literature supporting the process of Business Model Innovation for the Circular Economy - or Circular Business Model Innovation (CBMI) - is currently emerging. Several publications on this field have been published since 2014, nevertheless, there is still a lack of understanding on the process of CBMI, particularly for incumbent firms; and, as most of the literature is theoretical, further empirical insights are required. Furthermore, there is a need for an updated and comprehensive review of this fast-paced field, and a need to further integrate the CBMI field with the conventional Business Model Innovation (BMI) domain. The present research aims to first, map and frame the field of CBMI, building upon the structure of the conventional BMI field; second, to assess the current state of research of the field, proposing a future research agenda; and third, to explore the most relevant elements of the CBMI process in the practice. The article uses a combined literature and multiple case study approach. It begins by synthesizing a BMI framework, which is then combined with the findings of a systematic literature review (n=84) on the emergent CBMI field, to propose an original framework that structures the field. The review includes an assessment per article on the state-of-research. The framework is then illustrated through a multiple case study on ten incumbent firms that have implemented a substantial CBMI, revealing which topics are more relevant from a practice perspective and offering valuable empirical insights. We suggest that future research should prioritize those topics that are very important from the practice and still un- or under-researched in the CBMI field (i.e. organizational culture and structure as moderators of the CBMI change process, sustainability strategy as an antecedent of CBMI and top management role as key elements of the CBMI process) and to those identified as important though under-researched (i.e. organizational change management as a key element of the CBMI process; organizational inertia, ambidexterity and CBMI uncertainties as moderators of the CBMI process; and systemic change as an effect of the CBMI). The literature on Sustainable BMI is integrated to propose contributions to the identified gaps. This research contributes by framing and assessing the field of CBMI, proposing a future research agenda, providing a detailed literature state-of-research assessment and by further integrating CBMI with the conventional BMI field.
Małgorzata Lekan
added a research item
Check out how digitized alternative economic models can enable an inclusive circular economy transition amidst COVID-19 and surveillance capitalism. The study uses the case of Tedoy, un mundo para compartir - a community foundation from Santiago, Chile engaged in diverse circular economy practices.
Andrea Raggi
added a research item
Circular economy has become a central concept of sustainable production and consumption since its introduction into the public eye. However, to ensure circular economy actually delivers on its promises regarding sustainability, it is vital to anticipate and assess the impact of circular economy practices in an integrated way. For that purpose, holistic assessments are crucial to enable transparent decision-making, clearly indicating possible trade-offs. While previous literature has mainly focused on product, company or country level, this paper contributes to an improved understanding of sustainability assessments on the inter-firm level. Given the vital role of inter-firm networks in the transition to a circular economy, the authors present a systematic literature review of sustainability assessment approaches applicable within circular inter-firm networks. These networks are primarily represented in two related fields relevant to circular economy: industrial ecology offers sustainability assessment approaches for inter- and intra-sectoral business activities at different scales, whereas circular supply chain management is a promising source for sustainability assessment approaches considering product life cycles. Over 100 academic publications are reviewed and categorised according to assessment type, correspondence to the relevant field, and sustainability dimensions addressed. The results demonstrate that life cycle-based methodologies as well as indicator frameworks, often combined with multi-criteria decision-making methods, are the most common ex-post assessment approaches. Concurrently, the most frequent ex-ante assessments are based on mathematical programming. It is further observed that industrial ecology-related publications present more comprehensive environmental assessments, while circular supply chain management literature includes the social dimension more often, but superficially. Overall, the social dimension is least assessed and least integrated into the sustainability assessment. Based on the findings of the review, an integrated framework of approaches is developed, enabling decision-makers to identify suitable sustainability assessment approaches for circular inter-firm networks.
Martin Calisto Friant
added a research item
Since the publication of the European Union's Circular Economy Action Plan in 2015, this new sustainability paradigm has become a guiding force behind the environmental and economic policies of the Junker Commission. The European Union (EU) has taken a particular approach to circularity, with high expectations to increase competitiveness, promote economic growth and create jobs while reducing environmental impacts and resource dependency. However, the circular economy (CE) is a contested paradigm, for which many competing interpretations exist, each seeking varying degrees of social, ecological and political transformation. Considering the emerging and contested state of the academic literature on CE, the EU's embrace of the concept is a remarkable phenomenon, which remains poorly researched. The aim of this paper is thus to address this research gap by analysing the CE discourse and policies of the Junker Commission (2014-2019) in order to critically discuss their sustainability implications and develop key policy recommendations. To do so, this research uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The paper first critically analyses the EU's discourse based on a typology of circularity discourses. It then reviews the complex set of concrete CE policies and actions adopted by the EU and compares them to its discourse. Results show a dichotomy between words and actions, with a discourse that is rather holistic, while policies focus on “end of pipe” solutions and do not address the many socio-ecological implications of a circularity transition. Several actions are thus recommended to tackle the systemic challenges of a circular future from a plural perspective.
Małgorzata Lekan
added a research item
Technology is increasingly reshaping social relations and transforming associated urban spatial configurations. Advancements such as digital social platforms and mobile apps have helped to connect social actors, empower citizens, and enable diverse circular economy practices in cities. Paradoxically, technology is also contributing to loneliness, anxiety, and depression among urban populations, and raises nuanced questions about access and inclusivity in increasingly digitized urban settings. In this contribution, we consider the possibilities and challenges inherent in applying digital technologies to leverage the development of inclusive and diverse circular economic spaces around a city’s reuse, repair and recycling infrastructure and drive socio-ecological transformations of urban spaces. We conclude that uneven access to digital tools potentially reinforces existing urban social inequalities, and that emphasis must be placed on understanding how technologies should be more effectively designed and leveraged for a socially inclusive circular economy in the city.
Erik Roos Lindgreen
added a research item
Transitioning from the current linear economic development model to a circular economy (CE) is a hot topic in academic literature, public governance, and the corporate domain. Actors have implemented CE strategies to reduce their resource use and its associated impacts, while boosting economic competitiveness and generating positive social impact. Companies are identified as key actors in transitioning to a CE, and many academics have proposed tools to assess CE and guide them in this process. This paper critically reviews such academic ‘assessment approaches’ at the micro level in order to reflect on their key properties. Seventy-four approaches are inventoried through a systematic literature review of academic literature. A critical review framework is constructed and applied, containing four perspectives: A general perspective, a descriptive perspective (methodological aspects), a normative perspective (connections to Sustainable Development), and a prescriptive perspective (implementation-focused). Methodologically, the 74 approaches are highly diverse, having various connections to previously established methodologies. Eighteen of the reviewed assessment approaches include all three dimensions of Sustainable Development (SD), in addition to a ‘circular’ dimension. Roughly one quarter of the approaches apply a participatory design approach. Suggested key desired properties of CE assessment approaches include making use of existing assessment methodologies such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and a closer collaboration between science and practitioners to consider end-user needs in the design of CE assessment approaches.
Natacha Klein
added a research item
The concept of the Circular Economy (CE) is an increasingly attractive approach to tackling current sustainability challenges and facilitating a shift away from the linear “take-make-use-dispose” model of production and consumption. The public sector is a major contributor to the CE transition not only as a policy-maker but also as a significant purchaser, consumer, and user of goods and services. The circularization of the public sector itself, however, has received very little attention in CE research. In order to explore the current state of knowledge on the implementation of CE practices and strategies within Public Sector Organizations (PSOs), this research aims to develop an overview of the existing literature. The literature review was designed combining a systematic search with a complementary purposive sampling. Using organizational sustainability as a theoretical perspective, the main results showed a scattered landscape, indicating that the limited research on CE practices and strategies in PSOs has focused so far on the areas of public procurement, internal operations and processes, and public service delivery. As a result of this literature review, an organizational CE framework of a PSO is proposed providing a holistic view of a PSO as a system with organizational dimensions that are relevant for the examination and analysis of the integration process of CE practices and strategies. This innovative framework aims to help further CE research and practice to move beyond current sustainability efforts, highlighting that public procurement, strategy and management, internal processes and operations, assessment and communication, public service delivery, human resources dimensions, collaboration with other organizations, and various external contexts are important public sector areas where the implementation of CE has the potential to bring sustainability benefits.
Kieran Campbell-Johnston
added a research item
The circular economy (CE) emphasises closing material loops to retain material value. The current practice of tyre recycling in the Netherlands, through a system of extended producer responsibility (EPR), appears an overwhelming success, with claims of 100% recovery. Yet, there is limited critical understanding regarding the system's circularity, considering alternative value retention options and resource recovery outcomes. This study analyses this Dutch tyre EPR system and reflects on how it can be improved from a systemic CE perspective. It uses a qualitative case study approach, using interviews and a review of policy, legal and EPR reporting documents. This paper assesses the governance of this sector and reflects on the existing system, including its circularity and value retention outcomes. Our analysis reveals seven central issues concerning how the EPR system currently functions, resulting in limited circularity and sustainability outcomes, despite high material recovery levels. To address these issues we recommend the continuous improvement of recovery and sustainability targets beyond a single product life cycle, a more transparent and inclusive governance system, as well as a greater focus on sufficiency strategies, e.g. design for durability and a broader transformation of transport models. This paper adds a practical understanding of the capacity of EPR to contribute to CE. Full text available (open access): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652620320898
Martin Calisto Friant
added a research item
The circular economy (CE) has recently become a popular discourse especially in government and corporate sectors. Given the socio-ecological challenges of the Anthropocene, the concept of CE could indeed help the transition to a sustainable, just and resilient future. However, the actual definition, objectives and forms of implementation of the CE are still unclear, inconsistent, and contested. Different actors and sectors are thus articulating circular discourses which align with their interests, and which often do not sufficiently examine the ecological, social and political implications of circularity. In this context, this research asks how to better navigate and analyse the history, complexity and plurality of circularity discourses by conceptually differentiating them in a comprehensive discourse typology. To answer this question a critical literature review has been carried out, which first, examines and reflects on the core challenges, gaps and limitations of the CE concept. Second, this research develops a comprehensive timeline of circularity thinking, which identifies and conceptually classifies 72 different CE-related concepts from the Global North and South (such as Gandhian and steady-state economics, buen vivir, doughnut economics and degrowth). This leads to the development of a typology of circularity discourses, which classifies circularity visions according to their position on fundamental social, technological, political and ecological issues. This research thus seeks to provide a basis for a more inclusive and comprehensive discussion on the topic, which opens the imaginary regarding the many circular futures that can exist and allows for a cross-pollination of ideas, policy options, strategies, practices and solutions.
Kieran Campbell-Johnston
added a research item
The principle of cascading, the sequential and consecutive use of resources, is a potential method to create added value in circular economy (CE) practices. Despite conceptual similarities, no research to date has explored how cascading has been operationalised and how to integrate it with CE R-imperatives (Reduce, Reuse etc.) to facilitate implementation practices. CE practices emphasise value creation and retention, yet, there has been little reflexive examination of explicit and intrinsic value considerations; namely, how allocation choices, i.e. the decision-making process, for resource utilization are made. This paper aims to (1) examine how cascading has been operationalised (empirically and theoretically) to understand its normative underpinnings and value considerations; and (2) integrate cascading with the CE practices in a manner that accounts for the complexities of material allocation choices. Through a literature review of 64 articles from three bodies of literature (CE, cascading and up/downcycling), plus additional material on sustainable development, we show the cascading concept is a suitable framework to direct material uses and provides an overarching concept to integrate with CE R-imperatives. From this, we propose a new theoretical framework that considers the socio-organisational necessities for a CE-cascading system, specifically by deconstructing the allocation choices and exchanges of product material combinations between actor groups. This considers a dual perspective of the physical aspects of materials and the social context in which material allocation is made. The framework transcends individual value chain actor configurations to propose an overarching steering/governance framework, based on the triple-P of sustainability (People, Planet, Prosperity), to examine and direct CE-cascading exchanges, between and above individual users/firms.
David Santiago Perez Rodriguez
added a research item
This research positions individual actions as the propelling force of collective actions towards sustainability; it gives agency to individuals by recognizing them as citizens rather than consumers. That framework will enable to stimulate the discussion between theory and practice about the agency of communities disrupting and transforming the current logic of the economic system into one that can successfully coexist with our current biospheric limits (Hawken, Lovins, & Lovins, 2013).
Martin Calisto Friant
added a research item
The circular economy (CE) has recently become a popular discourse especially in the public and private sectors. The proponents of this concept are advocating many social, economic and environmental benefits from the application of CE practices. Given the current challenges of the Anthropocene to overcome resource scarcity, climate change, biodiversity loss and maintain the integrity of the biosphere, all while providing for the needs of a rising human population, the CE could indeed provide with key solutions for the transition to a sustainable, just and resilient future. However, the actual definition, objectives and forms of implementation of the CE are still contested, inconsistent and unclear. The discourse on the CE has been dominated by some sectors (mostly corporate and public policy) as well as some field (mostly engineering, management and economics) which have promoted a certain vision of circularity. So far, the CE literature has thus not sufficiently examined the ecological, social, political and cultural implications of circularity. This research identifies and critically reviews the core research gaps on the CE and proposes the transdisciplinary research perspective of political ecology as one of the most relevant fields from which to further examine those underling issues. This paper also presents a new typology of CE discourses, which classifies CE visions according to their position on fundamental socio-environmental issues. [Update]: This research was extensively updated, and expanded for publication in the Journal Resources Conservation & Recycling and can be openly accessed here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.104917
Claire Lea
added a project goal
CRESTING has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765198. The 4-year project started in January 2018.
The purpose of the project is to recruit 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and to train them in cutting edge systematic analysis of Circular Economy related activity and initiatives in a range of geographic and economic settings. The purpose of this is to translate critical assessment to lessons for managing the transformation to a Circular Economy.
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