Adoption of circular economy practices in small and medium-sized enterprises: Evidence from Europe and the UK

Prasanta Kumar Dey*, Chrysovalantis Malesios, Somyadeb Chowdhury, Krishnendu Saha, Pawan Budhwar, Debashree De

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Circular Economy (CE) practices have the potential to enhance sustainability performance of organisations and therefore can help respond to United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. The aim of this research is to examine the adoption of CE in Euroepan small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and its impact on sustainability performance. We analyse the current state of CE practices and its impact on sustainability performance across key CE fields of action (design, procurement, production, distribution, consumption and recover) for SMEs in France, Greece, Spain and the UK A mixed-methods approach (survey, interviews, case studies) is undertaken to collect data from around 100 SMEs in each country, employing resource-based view as the theoretical lens. Our findings reveal that CE adoption can result into superior environmental performance through energy and resource efficiency, and waste reduction. Moreover, the ‘design’ function contributes the most towards the adoption of CE in SMEs, whereas the ‘recover’ function contributes the least, considering the current state-of-practices. From a theoretical perspective, we outline the issues and challenges, impact of support from customers and policymakers, and self-motivation of SMEs to adopt CE. Based on the findings, we propose an implementation framework for SMEs to develop organisation wide strategic initiatives for CE adoption in business operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108496
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Early online date31 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

Funding Information:
This research has received funding from: (1) European Regional Development Fund (reference OC12R16P0367 ) for the project Support the Shift Towards a Low Carbon Economy in Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local area Enterprise Partnership; (2) MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS, EU Horizon 2020 (Agreement No. 788692 ) for the project Enhancing Sustainability Performance of Small and Medium sized Enterprises’ Supply chain.


  • Circular economy
  • Closed loop supply chain
  • Resource-based view
  • Small and medium sized enterprises
  • Sustainability performance


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