sustainability-logo

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Carmen Jaca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Navarra, TECNUN, Industrial Management Department, San Sebastian 20018, Spain
Interests: Circular economy; Continuous improvement; Sustainability
Dr. Tatiana Reyes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ICD, Hetic, Creidd, Université de Technologie de Troyes, FRE2019, CNRS, Troyes, France
Interests: Design for sustainability, sustainable values, methods and tools, sociotechnical systems, holistic approach, Permacircular economy
Dr. Marta Ormazabal
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Industrial Management Department, University of Navarra, TECNUN, 20018 San Sebastian, Spain
Interests: circular economy; sustainability; purpose
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The circular economy is a paradigm that aims to generate economic prosperity, protect the environment, and prevent pollution in order to facilitate sustainable development through creating and maintaining value in the economy, encouraging regenerative innovations, and closing the energy and material loops.

Considering that linear business models predominate in firms, the transition to a circular system will require guidance and examples of successful cases for the benefits and advantages of the CE to become accepted and for the methods of application for sustainable production and consumption to become well known. This support is especially important in the case of SMEs, which have become highly important because they make up 95% of companies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries (OECD, 2017). However, such organizations have to deal with technological, financial, and human resource barriers against circular economy implementation (Ormazabal et al., 2016; Rizos et al., 2016).

We are seeking contributions reflecting different perspectives and methodological approaches that explore circular economy applications, methodologies, and practices in SMEs. Contributions from all sectors are welcome, from manufacturing to services industries and both public and private. Empirical contributions are encouraged as well as theoretical and conceptual papers which address circular economy in SMEs.

Dr. Carmen Jaca
Dr. Tatiana Reyes
Dr. Marta Ormazabal
Guest Editors

References

OECD, 2017. Enhancing the Contributions of SMEs in a Global and Digitalised Economy, pp. 7-8.

Ormazabal, M., Prieto-Sandoval, V., Jaca, C., Santos, J., 2016. An overview of the circular economy among SMEs in the Basque Country: a multiple case study. J. Ind. Eng. Manag. 9, 1047e1058. https://doi.org/10.3926/jiem.2065.

Rizos, V., Behrens, A., van der Gaast, W., Hofman, E., Ioannou, A., Kafyeke, T., Flamos, A., Rinaldi, R., Papadelis, S., Hirschnitz-Garbers, M., Topi, C., 2016. Implementation of Circular Economy Business Models by Small and Mediumsized Enterprises (SMEs): Barriers and Enablers, 8. Sustain. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8111212.

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • circular economy
  • SMEs
  • environmental strategy
  • methodologies

Published Papers (7 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Article
Success Drivers for Implementing Circular Economy: A Case Study from the Building Sector in Colombia
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1350; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031350 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1161
Abstract
This paper contributes to the circular economy (CE) literature by investigating the drivers of success of the CE implementation in the construction sector and how those drivers can complement any implementation process in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). To do so, we analyzed [...] Read more.
This paper contributes to the circular economy (CE) literature by investigating the drivers of success of the CE implementation in the construction sector and how those drivers can complement any implementation process in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). To do so, we analyzed the case of TECMO Estructuras Metálicas, using the methodology proposed by Jaca and colleagues to implement the CE in SMEs. It is a Colombian company with more than five decades of experience in the manufacture and installation of steel and aluminum structures for small and large building and infrastructure projects. The data were collected between August 2019 and November 2020 through direct communication with the company via workshops, meetings, and company reports. This research found that five drivers are relevant for implementing CE in the construction sector: fertile ecosystem, management commitment, identification of valuable materials, green teams, and CE intermediaries. Moreover, this study also contributes to teaching the implementation of the CE in companies, since it shows that through the methodology presented, implementation projects can be developed in postgraduate classes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Circular Business Models and Circular Agriculture: Perceptions and Practices of Dutch Farmers
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1282; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031282 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1845
Abstract
Although it is not clear yet what a full-grown circular economy (CE) is going to look like, it is clear that the challenges of transitioning to a CE are both impressive and urgent. The Dutch government has expressed the ambition to establish a [...] Read more.
Although it is not clear yet what a full-grown circular economy (CE) is going to look like, it is clear that the challenges of transitioning to a CE are both impressive and urgent. The Dutch government has expressed the ambition to establish a CE in the Netherlands in 2050. In the wake of this, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality laid down a vision on circular agriculture (CA). A key question with respect to both CE and CA is if and to what extent this means business as unusual: How distinct is circular business from normal business operations? The ways in which the notions of CE and circular business models (CBMs) are often introduced suggest a big difference. However, closer scrutiny also reveals that in practice the impact of circularity is less obvious. Against the backdrop of such opposite observations, this paper examines how Dutch farmers perceive circularity and what implications this has for their production practices. Interviews (n = 13) with Dutch farmers show that circular business is adapted in normal business management by some and regarded as a genuine alternative to the conventional food system by others. By taking Dutch farmers as an example, this paper aims to contribute to our understanding of how CE is interpreted in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises)
Article
Sustainability vs. Circular Economy from a Disposition Decision Perspective: A Proposal of a Methodology and an Applied Example in SMEs
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10109; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310109 - 03 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 945
Abstract
Disposition Decision (DD) consists of deciding how to treat a recovered product, and it is one of the most important decisions in reverse logistics. Any of the selected disposition alternatives will have a significant impact on the enterprise sustainability. However, the most sustainable [...] Read more.
Disposition Decision (DD) consists of deciding how to treat a recovered product, and it is one of the most important decisions in reverse logistics. Any of the selected disposition alternatives will have a significant impact on the enterprise sustainability. However, the most sustainable alternative may not be an alternative to make circular economy (CE) possible. In these cases, if the company wishes to adopt a CE strategy, it will have to switch from the most sustainable alternative to a less sustainable one that CE allows. Then, how much should be sacrificed for each sustainability dimension to make CE possible? This paper proposes a methodology for quantitatively comparing the most sustainable disposition alternative and the most sustainable CE alternative. This comparison allows small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to know how exactly all dimensions increase or decrease when selecting the most sustainable CE disposition alternative and to, therefore, assess the interest of adopting a CE policy. The proposed methodology is applied to a used tire recovery company. The results of this example show that the CE alternative offers a better environmental result but presents worst economic and social results. This example can be used as a guide for future applications other SMEs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
“Squaring the Circle”—The Disregarded Institutional Theory and the Distorted Practice of Packaging Waste Recycling in Romania
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9440; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229440 - 13 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 793
Abstract
The European Union (EU) remains one of the leading-edge jurisdictions on the planet in legislating and enforcing the circular economy, a token of its forthright environmental awareness. Still, given that the level of economic development across the EU member states is heterogenous, this [...] Read more.
The European Union (EU) remains one of the leading-edge jurisdictions on the planet in legislating and enforcing the circular economy, a token of its forthright environmental awareness. Still, given that the level of economic development across the EU member states is heterogenous, this concern, however generous it may be, looks too beyond “their” means and too ahead of “its” times. What the European policymakers seem to disregard is that top-down institutional constructions, as is the case with the EU’s overambitious environmental legislation, can end up in severe distortions. Imposing/importing an institutionalized arrangement without due preparation may fuel resistance to (even positive) change, as the biases it engenders translate into considerable costs and selective benefits. The present article attempts a novel approach within the literature, where the failure to achieve recycling targets is usually considered the fault of private businesses. Instead, our study explains suboptimal environmental results by the institutionalization of spiraling governmental interventions in markets, meant to make the arbitrarily set recycling/reuse targets artificially viable. Subject to EU rules, Romania’s packaging waste recycling market is a textbook case in revealing this outcome predicted by economic theory, as our statistical data suggest. The conclusion is that it is equally perilous to neglect the calibration of legislative targets according to institutional and economic development as it is to reject environmental claims based on their costs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Circular Economy Practices among Industrial EMAS-Registered SMEs in Spain
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9011; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219011 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1047
Abstract
The Eurobarometer report from December 2019 revealed that 80% of European Union (EU) citizens believe that industry is doing too little to protect the environment and that more work needs to be done to help companies transition to a more sustainable economic model. [...] Read more.
The Eurobarometer report from December 2019 revealed that 80% of European Union (EU) citizens believe that industry is doing too little to protect the environment and that more work needs to be done to help companies transition to a more sustainable economic model. In recent years, the EU has made the Circular Economy (CE) a priority, and an environmental management system based on the EMAS Regulation can help companies achieve this goal by assisting them in analysing and measuring an efficient and sustainable use of resources. Thus, this study analyses EMAS companies’ environmental statements in order to identify and quantify the CE practices they have implemented. Findings identify 23 circular practices and show that the majority of companies focus their efforts on reducing emissions by optimizing the materials cycle and improving internal production processes. Eco-design stands out as the main driver amongst the circular transformation practices. This study has also detected a lack of uniformity in the way companies quantify the various circular practices currently operating, or how they communicate this information. These results may be useful to companies, professionals and administrations responsible for promoting the CE, and it can also provide guidance on what information to include in future environmental statements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Shortcomings of Transforming a Local Circular Economy System through Industrial Symbiosis: A Case Study in Spanish SMEs
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8423; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208423 - 13 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1025
Abstract
Defining the circular economy (CE) as a material and energy model coincides with the definition given by multiple authors in which Industrial Symbiosis (IS) has been deemed as a foundational strategy to support the implementation of the CE. The consumption of secondary materials [...] Read more.
Defining the circular economy (CE) as a material and energy model coincides with the definition given by multiple authors in which Industrial Symbiosis (IS) has been deemed as a foundational strategy to support the implementation of the CE. The consumption of secondary materials is essential to achieve a successful transformation from a linear economy to a CE focused on IS practices. In this scenario, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a major role as stakeholders in developing CE systems as it is not possible to create this model with each company working in isolation. However, there is a lack of empirical studies on the role played by relevant local stakeholders such as individual firms interacting in the development of a local CE system. This study aimed to study the challenges that SMEs face in developing a CE system. A case study is selected as a research strategy using a mixed-method approach: a sequential quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews) data collection techniques were employed for this research. It was observed that an absence of inter-organisational collaboration and a misunderstanding of the roles played by SMEs may impede the implementation of a local CE system level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Review
A Critical Review of Academic Approaches, Methods and Tools to Assess Circular Economy at the Micro Level
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4973; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124973 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 44 | Viewed by 2955
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Small and Medium Enterprises)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop