Special Issue "Circular Economy"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2016).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Peter Hopkinson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Management, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK
Tel. +44 (0)1274 238000
Interests: circular economy; business models for radical resource productivity; organisational change and adaptation to external environmental issues
Prof. Dr. Stuart Roper
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Management, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK
Tel. +44 (0)1274 234435; Fax: +44 (0)1274 235680
Interests: interested in areas of branding and corporate reputation
Dr. Donato Masi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
WMG, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK
Tel. +44 (0) 24765 23960
Interests: sustainable supply chain management; circular business models

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A circular economy is defined as one that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times. This systemic framework proposes a global economic model that decouples economic growth and development from the consumption of finite resources. It is based on some key principles. These include keeping a clear distinction in the economic system between technical and biological materials, keeping them at their highest value at all times.

Second, it focuses on effective design and use of materials to optimise their flow and maintain or increase technical and natural resource stocks. It promotes business opportunities and innovation across fields such as product design, service and business models, food, farming, biological feedstock, and products.

Finally, it proposes a series of building blocks and enablers to create a resilient economic system. The circular economy draws a sharp distinction between the consumption and use of materials: circular economy advocates the need for a “functional service” model in which manufacturers or retailers increasingly retain the ownership of their products and, where possible, act as service providers—selling the use of products, not simply selling them and then taking no further responsibility. This shift has direct implications for the development of efficient and effective take-back systems and the proliferation of product- and business model design practices that generate more durable products, facilitate disassembly and refurbishment and, where appropriate, consider product/service shifts.

This Special Issue of Sustainability invites papers on any of these themes, concepts, and principles. We are especially interested in empirical studies with appropriate theoretical underpinnings on (but not limited to):

(1)     potential or actual employment and labour effects from circular economy intiatives or programmes in developed and developing country contexts;

(2)     analysis of circular economy policies and their effects and outcomes in different contexts;

(3)     consumer attitudes, practices and behaviours in relation to circular economy business models;

(4)     materials, resource or energy impacts from circular economy system level re-design, product-serevice system innovation, circular business model innovation or circular design initiatives;

(5)     change management processes within business setting to show how circular economy is being implemented, innovations processes and lessons learnt that are more widely transferable.

Prof. Dr. Peter Hopkins
Prof. Dr. Stuart Roper
Dr. Donato Masi
Guest Editors

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 1800 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
  • growth-resource dependencies
  • labour and employment
  • consumer behaviour and branding
  • reverse logistics and supply chains
  • policies
  • circular design and business models
  • change management

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
A Conceptual Framework for Circular Design
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 937; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090937 - 13 Sep 2016
Cited by 83
Abstract
Design has been recognised in the literature as a catalyst to move away from the traditional model of take-make-dispose to achieve a more restorative, regenerative and circular economy. As such, for a circular economy to thrive, products need to be designed for closed [...] Read more.
Design has been recognised in the literature as a catalyst to move away from the traditional model of take-make-dispose to achieve a more restorative, regenerative and circular economy. As such, for a circular economy to thrive, products need to be designed for closed loops, as well as be adapted to generate revenues. This should not only be at the point of purchase, but also during use, and be supported by low-cost return chains and reprocessing structures, as well as effective policy and regulation. To date, most academic and grey literature on the circular economy has focused primarily on the development of new business models, with some of the latter studies addressing design strategies for a circular economy, specifically in the area of resource cycles and design for product life extension. However, these studies primarily consider a limited spectrum of the technical and biological cycles where materials are recovered and restored and nutrients (e.g., materials, energy, water) are regenerated. This provides little guidance or clarity for designers wishing to design for new circular business models in practice. As such, this paper aims to address this gap by systematically analysing previous literature on Design for Sustainability (DfX) (e.g., design for resource conservation, design for slowing resource loops and whole systems design) and links these approaches to the current literature on circular business models. A conceptual framework is developed for circular economy design strategies. From this conceptual framework, recommendations are made to enable designers to fully consider the holistic implications for design within a circular economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy)
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Open AccessArticle
Re-Introducing Consumption to the ‘Circular Economy’: A Sociotechnical Analysis of Domestic Food Provisioning
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 794; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8080794 - 12 Aug 2016
Cited by 22
Abstract
The paper makes two contributions to the advancement of the ‘circular economy’ as a blueprint for a more sustainable society. The first is to highlight the importance of understanding the dynamics of consumption and waste in the domestic sphere. The second is to [...] Read more.
The paper makes two contributions to the advancement of the ‘circular economy’ as a blueprint for a more sustainable society. The first is to highlight the importance of understanding the dynamics of consumption and waste in the domestic sphere. The second is to illustrate two ways in which using insights from socio-technical literature on sustainable consumption, in combination with the sociology of food, could contribute to redressing this shortfall. This includes understanding why people use or consume particular goods or services, and how this might be altered; and what drives the production of waste and the adoption of strategies for its reduction by consumers. We mobilise insights from a socio-technical perspective on consumption, which highlights the importance of everyday interactions between routine activities, mundane technologies and cultural meanings in (re)producing patterns of consumption. These insights are illustrated with reference to domestic food provisioning, using empirical data generated through twenty semi-structured interviews with consumers in relation to meat consumption and thriftiness. Two suggestions for the development of the ‘circular economy’ to better take account of consumption within the domestic sphere are made. The first is a shift from imagining consumers as ‘users’ of particular products or services, to conceptualisation as ‘doers’ of everyday activities. The second is a broadening of the principle of ‘eco-effectiveness’ to take account for the social value of consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy)
Open AccessArticle
How Supportive Are Romanian Consumers of the Circular Economy Concept: A Survey
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 789; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8080789 - 11 Aug 2016
Cited by 21
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to investigate consumer behavior regarding the environment and the adoption of new patterns of behavior and responsible consumption in the promotion of a Circular Economy (CE) in Romania. With this goal in mind, a questionnaire survey was [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to investigate consumer behavior regarding the environment and the adoption of new patterns of behavior and responsible consumption in the promotion of a Circular Economy (CE) in Romania. With this goal in mind, a questionnaire survey was performed on-line on a nationwide scale to explore consumers’ behaviors and attitudes, which was distributed in all four of Romania’s macro-regions and interviewing 642 respondents. The results indicate that the consumers have a positive attitude towards the importance of the environmental protection, in general and it also measures the frequency of adopting eco-friendly behaviors by the consumers, showing that the consumption behavior is not very consistent with the general attitude regarding environment. As a parallel, consumers are aware of the importance of CE business models, in general, both for the economy and for the environment, but the adoption of consumption patterns specific to CE business models, necessary for the development and the success of the CE business models, has a low probability in the absence of direct or indirect incentives and benefits fostering the adoption of these consumption patterns. In conclusion, the development of CE business models in Romania requires a national strategy, which includes means to sustain the adoption of necessary new consumption behaviors, besides awareness raising and educational campaigns for explaining to consumers the liaison and the impact of their behavior to the environment and to the economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards a Circular Economy: The Role of Dutch Logistics Industries and Governments
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 647; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8070647 - 08 Jul 2016
Cited by 55
Abstract
While there is great potential in the chief values and prospects of a circular economy, this alone will not bring the circular economy to market or scale. In order for a circular economy to materialize, an integrated approach that focuses on a long-term [...] Read more.
While there is great potential in the chief values and prospects of a circular economy, this alone will not bring the circular economy to market or scale. In order for a circular economy to materialize, an integrated approach that focuses on a long-term system change or transition is required. To set the change process in motion, many (public and private) players (companies, authorities, citizens, and research institutions) need to be involved. Among the many stakeholders, a genuine enabler to implement a successful and sustainable circular strategy is the logistics industry. Given that The Netherlands is used as a case study, in this paper, we focus on the Dutch logistics industry and how this industry can contribute to the broader Dutch agenda to realize a more circular economy. It implies looking at the specific transition agenda for the logistics industry in relation to a circular economy, what barriers may exist that might hamper such a transition, and how public policy-makers are dealing with and can tackle these barriers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy)
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