Ten academic articles for a developing economy on the Circular Economy you can't miss!

A circular economy is an economic system based on regenerating natural resources and systems and eliminating waste and pollution. Where and how can we start especially from a Developing Economy perspective? We have curated a list of academic articles that will help you dive into this regenerative process.

The “Doughnut”: The green ring represents a sweet-spot where our socio-economic systems should be placed, such that they respect (external) planetary boundaries, and fulfil (internal) societal needs.

Introduction of the circular economy within developing regions: A comparative analysis of advantages and opportunities for waste valorization

Authors: Navarro Ferronato, Elena Cristina Rada, Marcelo Antonio Gorritty Portillo, Lucian Ionel Cioca, Marco Ragazzi, Vincenzo Torretta,

Citation: Ferronato, N., Rada, E. C., Portillo, M. A. G., Cioca, L. I., Ragazzi, M., & Torretta, V. (2019). Introduction of the circular economy within developing regions: A comparative analysis of advantages and opportunities for waste valorization. Journal of environmental management, 230, 366-378.

Abstract: The introduction of effective solid waste management strategies in developing countries should be considered for improving sustainability at global level. Many barriers should be overcome, concerning the introduction of environmental policies, effective investments, social inclusion and public awareness, which are significant issues in low-middle income countries. The Circular Economy could represent the answer for improving current solid waste management activities worldwide, since denote the principle of waste valorization and recycling for boosting developing economies. This paper is focused on this theme, analyzing main opportunities for improving the current state of solid waste management in developing big cities. The solid waste management of two countries are reviewed: Romania is the emerging country where Circular Economy is becoming a future objective due to economic aids and strength regulations which the European Union (EU) established for the nations forming parts the alliance; as a comparison, Bolivia is reported for evaluating main differences founded for developing recycling systems in a no-EU country. These two case studies could be of interest for highlighting main pros and cons of the participation into a wide organization like the EU for introducing in short terms Circular Economy principles. Moreover, a theoretical Circular Economy model for developing big cities in low-middle income countries is described within the study for effectively comparing which chances can spread for these countries as regard municipal solid waste exploitation. Despite the economic level, Romania and Bolivia are both facing with many solid waste management issues although in different magnitude. For the Romanian case study, it is visible how it cannot achieve the European goals for 2020 due the need of change in public recycling behavior. Bolivia, instead, represents the case where international aids and new investments are required, considering the informal sector into the formal management system as a real opportunity for improving local recycling rate. In conclusion, the comparison suggests how external supports led to implement the principles of the Circular Economy within a developing region. The model of Circular Economy proposed is recommended for developing big cities in order to advance a new form of safe employment, encouraging the activities that are still in action (i.e. informal sector) and boosting the principles of sustainable development.


Industry 4.0 enablers for a cleaner production and circular economy within the context of business ethics: A study in a developing country

Authors: Masoud Shayganmehr, Anil Kumar, Jose Arturo Garza-Reyes, Md. Abdul Moktadir

Citation: Shayganmehr, M., Kumar, A., Garza-Reyes, J. A., & Moktadir, M. A. (2021). Industry 4.0 enablers for a cleaner production and circular economy within the context of business ethics: a study in a developing country. Journal of Cleaner Production, 281, 125280.

Abstract: To achieve sustainability, businesses are adopting Cleaner Production (CP) and Circular Economy (CE) practices for producing better quality products at the lowest cost while decreasing the negative environmental impact of their operations. The implementation of these practices is highly influenced by Industry 4.0 technology’s enablers, particularly within the context of ethical and sustainable business development. In this paper, a novel framework is proposed to assess the importance of Industry 4.0 enablers for implementing CP practices embedded in CE in the context of ethical societies and assess an industry’s readiness. Firstly, the most effective context-related Industry 4.0 enablers are extracted from previous studies and validated through a Fuzzy Delphi method. Secondly, the Interval-Valued Fuzzy Sets (IVFS) based Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) method is applied to evaluate the enablers’ weight. Due to existing ambiguities in the enablers, IVFS was applied to model the uncertainty in an interval [0,1]. The final results indicate that the most important enablers are “Technical Capability”, “Security and Safety”, Policy and Regulation”, “System Flexibility”, “Education and Participation” and “Support and Maintenance” respectively. Thirdly, the Fuzzy Evaluation Method (FEM) was followed to evaluate the readiness score of Industry 4.0 enablers for implementing CP practices embedded in CE and evolving ethical principles of corporate social responsibility. This paper contributes to the CP, CE and ethics body of knowledge by proposing a framework for assessing the dimensions of Industry 4.0 enablers during the implementation of CP and CE practices and to provide ethical and sustainable business development.


Prioritization of sustainability indicators for promoting the circular economy: The case of developing countries

Authors: Sue Lin Ngan, Bing Shen How, Sin Yong Teng, Michael Angelo B. Promentilla, Puan Yatim, Ah Choy Er, Hon Loong Lam

Citation: Ngan, S. L., How, B. S., Teng, S. Y., Promentilla, M. A. B., Yatim, P., Er, A. C., & Lam, H. L. (2019). Prioritization of sustainability indicators for promoting the circular economy: The case of developing countries. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews, 111, 314-331.

Abstract: The concept of the circular economy has gained well-recognition across the world for the past decades. With the heightening risk of the impact of climate change, resource scarcity to meet the increasing world population, the need to transition to a more sustainable development model is urgent. The circular economy is often cited as one of the best solutions to support sustainable development. However, the diffusion of this concept in the industrial arena is still relatively slow, particularly in the developing country, which collectively exerts high potential to be the world's largest economies and workforce. It is crucial to make sure that the development of these nations is sustainable and not bearing on the cost of future generations. Thus, this work aims to provide a comprehensive review of the circular economy concept in developing country context. Furthermore, a novel model is proposed by adopting Fuzzy Analytics Network Process (FANP) to quantify the priority weights of the sustainability indicators to provide guidelines for the industry stakeholders at different stages of industry cycle to transition toward the circular economy. The results revealed that improvement in economic performance and public acceptance are the key triggers to encourage stakeholders for sustainable development. The outcomes serve as a reference to enhance the overall decision-making process of industry stakeholders. Local authorities can adopt the recommendations to design policy and incentive that encourage the adoption of circular economy in real industry operation to spur up economic development, without neglecting environmental well-being and jeopardizing social benefits.


The Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Concept and Application in a Global Context

Authors: Allan Murray, Keith Skene and Kathryn Haynes

Citation: Murray, A., Skene, K., & Haynes, K. (2017). The circular economy: an interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and application in a global context. Journal of business ethics, 140(3), 369-380.

Abstract: There have long been calls from industry for guidance in implementing strategies for sustainable development. The Circular Economy represents the most recent attempt to conceptualize the integration of economic activity and environmental wellbeing in a sustainable way. This set of ideas has been adopted by China as the basis of their economic development (included in both the 11th and the 12th ‘Five Year Plan’), escalating the concept in minds of western policymakers and NGOs. This paper traces the conceptualisations and origins of the Circular Economy, tracing its meanings, and exploring its antecedents in economics and ecology, and discusses how the Circular Economy has been operationalized in business and policy. The paper finds that while the Circular Economy places emphasis on the redesign of processes and cycling of materials, which may contribute to more sustainable business models, it also encapsulates tensions and limitations. These include an absence of the social dimension inherent in sustainable development that limits its ethical dimensions, and some unintended consequences. This leads us to propose a revised definition of the Circular Economy as “an economic model wherein planning, resourcing, procurement, production and reprocessing are designed and managed, as both process and output, to maximize ecosystem functioning and human well-being”.


Collaboration as an enabler for circular economy: a case study of a developing country

Authors: Jyoti L. Mishra, Kudzai Dominic Chiwenga and Khaoula Ali

Citation: Mishra, J. L., Chiwenga, K. D., & Ali, K. (2019). Collaboration as an enabler for circular economy: A case study of a developing country. Management Decision.

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to advance the knowledge of Circular Business Models (BMs) over linear models by focusing on new dynamics which are unique to developing countries and have mostly been overlooked by contemporary literature; and second, to bring to the fore aspects of human-sphere which are currently under-researched in the circular economy (CE) domain. Therefore, the research explores how collaboration can facilitate the transition of a developing country’s economy through the creation of value from circular BMs and human-sphere. To fulfill the research objectives, the authors apply natural resource-based view (NRBV) theory to an in-depth case study. The authors draw the data from semi-structured interviews and observations in North African manufacturing companies. It was found that multi-stakeholder collaboration is pertinent in implementing CE, especially in developing countries. Collaboration between companies, focusing on CE BMs, with other companies/SMEs could lead to technology transfer and organizational learning necessary for resource efficiency (RE) and clean technology (CT) – the basis for CE. The authors propose a model for collaboration as an enabler for CE.


Adoption of circular economy for food waste management in the context of a developing country

Authors: Yousaf Ali, Danyal Hakeem Jokhio, Amna Ali Dojki, Obaid ur Rehman, Feroz Khan and Aneel Salman

Citation: Ali, Y., Jokhio, D. H., Dojki, A. A., Rehman, O. U., Khan, F., & Salman, A. (2021). Adoption of circular economy for food waste management in the context of a developing country. Waste Management & Research, 0734242X211038198.

Abstract: Food wastage is a global concern with high economic, social and environmental impacts. Pakistan, a developing country, is also significantly affected by the adverse impacts of food wastage. For overcoming this problem, the transition from a Linear to a Circular Economy (CE) for the management of food wastage can serve as a viable strategy. However, there are barriers of political, technical and cultural nature, which are impediments in the path of this transition. This study aims to identify and prioritize these barriers in order of their significance. This research study evaluated and ranked these barriers using a Fuzzy Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) technique, the Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS). A total of 15 barriers were analyzed, and the ‘complicated intrinsic nature of CE’, ‘misleading information about shelf-life leading to waste rather than distribution’, ‘the poor economic viability of start-ups with CE model’, ‘corporate and organizational hesitance to change/innovate’ and ‘technological backwardness of farmers/growers on the agricultural production side’ were ranked as the most significant hurdles. The novelty of this study lies in its application. This study is unique as it has focused on developing countries and proposed policy recommendations for the transition towards a CE. In light of the above-mentioned results, this study provides policy recommendations for public and private sector policymakers that would facilitate the food industry in shifting towards the CE model.


Implementation of Circular Economy Principles in Industrial Solid Waste Management: Case Studies from a Developing Economy (Nigeria)

Authors: Obiora B. Ezeudu and Tochukwu S. Ezeudu

Citation: Ezeudu, O. B., & Ezeudu, T. S. (2019). Implementation of circular economy principles in industrial solid waste management: Case studies from a developing economy (Nigeria). Recycling, 4(4), 42.

Abstract: The existing solid waste management principles are increasingly being replaced with discussions on circular economy (CE) principles in contemporary deliberations on solid waste handling. This shift is supported by the global adoption of the concept of sustainable development. The CE offers better prospects to solid waste management and has been implemented successfully in its full theory, practice, and policies in some developed locations of the world. The socio-economic disadvantages, insufficient expert knowledge and a lack of information have hindered its appropriateness and implementation in low and middle-income countries. Hence, the current research study examines the challenges and opportunities of implementing the circularity principle at the industrial sector level of a typical developing economy—Nigeria. Four different industries were selected for this case study—telecommunications, water packaging, pulp and paper and the food industry. These industries represent the major waste streams in an urban solid waste mix (waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), plastic, paper and organic). This study discovered several barriers and existing pre-conditions in place that could either foster or militate against the smooth and successful application of a CE model as a simple modification of the generic model. This study also discussed future directions on the implementation of the model.


The Relevance of Circular Economy Practices to the Sustainable Development Goals

Authors: Patrick Schroeder,Kartika Anggraeni and Uwe Weber

Citation: Schroeder, P., Anggraeni, K., & Weber, U. (2019). The relevance of circular economy practices to the sustainable development goals. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 23(1), 77-95.

Abstract: This paper identifies the extent to which circular economy (CE) practices are relevant for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The results of a literature review and a matching exercise to determine the relationship between CE practices and SDG targets show that CE practices, potentially, can contribute directly to achieving a significant number of SDG targets. The strongest relationships exist between CE practices and the targets of SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and SDG 15 (Life on Land). The paper also explores synergies that can be created through CE practices among several of the SDG targets. Furthermore, it identifies several potential trade-offs between targets for decent work, safe working environments, human health and current CE practices relating to recycling of municipal waste, e-waste and wastewater, and provides suggestions how these can be overcome. The paper concludes that CE practices can be applied as a “toolbox” and specific implementation approaches for achieving a sizeable number of SDG targets. Further empirical research is necessary to determine which specific types of partnerships and means of implementation are required to apply CE practices in the SDG context.


Waste Picker Organizations and Their Contribution to the Circular Economy: Two Case Studies from a Global South Perspective

Authors: Jutta Gutberlet, Sebastián Carenzo, Jaan-Henrik Kain and Adalberto Mantovani Martiniano de Azevedo

Citation: Gutberlet, J., Carenzo, S., Kain, J. H., & Mantovani Martiniano de Azevedo, A. (2017). Waste picker organizations and their contribution to the circular economy: two case studies from a global south perspective. Resources, 6(4), 52.

Abstract: The discussion on the circular economy (CE) has attracted a rising interest within global policy and business as a way of increasing the sustainability of production and consumption. Yet the literature mostly portrays a Global North perspective. There is a diverse spectrum of community-based organizations playing important roles in resource recovery and transformation, particularly, but not only, in Global South countries, providing innovative examples for grassroots involvement in waste management and in the CE. This article proposes to add a Southern lens, situated in the context of waste picker organizations, to the concept of CE. The discursive framework in this article couples ecological economy (EE) with social/solidarity economy (SSE), focusing not only on environmental sustainability but also on social, economic, political and cultural dimensions involved in production, consumption and discard. We acknowledge that grassroots movements contribute to policy making and improve urban waste management systems. The paper outlines two empirical studies (Argentina, Brazil) that illustrate how waste picker organizations perform selective waste collection services, engage with municipalities and industries, and practice the CE. The research reveals that social and political facets need to be added to the debate about the CE, linking environmental management and policy with community development and recognizing waste pickers as protagonists in the CE. Our findings emphasize a need for a change of persisting inequalities in public policy by recognizing the importance of popular waste management praxis and knowledge, ultimately redefining the CE.


Barriers to effective circular supply chain management in a developing country context

Authors: Sachin Kumar Mangla, Sunil Luthra, Nishikant Mishra, Akshit Singh, Nripendra P. Rana, Manoj Dora and Yogesh Dwivedi

Citation: Mangla, S. K., Luthra, S., Mishra, N., Singh, A., Rana, N. P., Dora, M., & Dwivedi, Y. (2018). Barriers to effective circular supply chain management in a developing country context. Production Planning & Control, 29(6), 551-569.

Abstract: Circular supply chain (CSC) emphasises surge in application of reuse, recycling, remanufacturing and thereby promotes transformation from linear to circular model of flow of products. Supply chains of manufacturing industries have become global over the years. Products manufactured in developing nations are being sent to developed nations for mass consumption. Developed nations have regulatory policies, technological knowhow and modern infrastructure to adopt CSC model. Their counterpart is trailing in these aspects. In literature, limited work has been performed on identifying challenges of implementing CSC in developing nations. Therefore, employing literature review and feedback received from experts, 16 important barriers were identified to CSC adoption in India. These barriers were analysed using integrated Interpretive Structural Modelling ? MICMAC approach. The findings will contribute in transforming supply chains thereby bringing economic prosperity, addressing global warming and generating employment opportunities. Finally, crucial policy measures and recommendations are proposed to assist managers and government bodies.


About the Author

Piyush Dhawan (LinkedIn) is the co-founder of the Circular Collective was awarded the prestigious German Chancellor Fellowship last year to work on the topic of Circular Economy. He has for the past decade been working with Bilaterals and Multilaterals on a range of topics including business and biodiversity, Vision 2030 SDGs and Future of Indian Cities




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