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Exploring the role of independent retailers in the circular economy: a case study approach

Authors:
  • Positive ImpaKT, Luxembourg

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In the face of a rising global population and the associated growing resource consumption and negative environmental impacts, the fundamental need for an alternative to the traditional linear model of growth has led to the emerging debate about circular economy. While the topic of circular economy has been receiving increasing attention in the literature over the last years, research in this field has been mainly addressed through the manufacturers’ lens. However, as being an interface between the manufacturers upstream and the consumers downstream, retailers are strategically placed in the value chain to promote more sustainable consumption and production processes. Accordingly, the purpose of the thesis is to investigate the implementation of circular economy through a different lens, the retailers, whose role in the circular economy, to date, has received little empirical attention. Building on a literature review of circular economy and circular business model, a conceptual framework is developed to describe the four main functions of retailers in a circular economy. A case study with an independent retailer was conducted to test the relevance of this framework and to provide a concrete example of its usage as well as future development needs. The main findings of this thesis indicate the potential key role of independent retailers in a transition towards a circular economy.
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... For the past 150 years, the industrial economy has been dominated by a linear model of production (Wautelet 2018b), where manufactured capital, human capital, and natural capital contribute to human well-being, supporting the production of goods and services in the economic process (Brears 2018). The Industrial Revolution increased the economy's productivity with innovative technological advances and brought unprecedented prosperity to society. ...
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