Circular Economy to Enhance Sustainability of Small and Medium sized Enterprises

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The circular economy (CE) represents a major paradigm shift of moving from the concepts of
linear to circular supply chains across multiple industries. Although some aspects of CE
adoption within industrial supply chains have been researched extensively (particularly
addressing challenges of design, implementation and operations), the research that relates CE
practices with sustainability performance to reveal the current state of CE practices within
small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is scant. The aim of this research is to facilitate
SMEs to achieve greater sustainability through CE implementation. This research addresses
three research questions – How are CE fields of action related to sustainability perfornace,
what are the issues, challenges and opportunities of adopting circular economy in SMEs, and
what key strategies, resources, and competences facilitate effective implementation of CE in
SMEs? This study adopts a mixed method approach (qualitative and quantitative) using
survey research, focus group and case studies. 130 randomly selected SMEs within the
Midlands of the UK has been surveyed and the responses are analysed using statistical tools
along with findings from focus groups and case studies. The study reveals that all circular
economy fields of action (take, make, distribute, use and recover) of SMEs are correlated to
economic performance but only make and use are related to environmental and social
performance. The study further derives strategies, resources and competences for achieving
sustainability across all the CE field of actions. Additionally, this research reveals the issues
and challenges, strategies, resources and competences required for implementing CE in
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Early online date24 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2020


Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Dey, PK, Malesios, C, De, D, Budhwar, P, Chowdhury, S, Cheffi, W. Circular economy to enhance sustainability of small and medium‐sized enterprises. Bus Strat Env. 2020; 1– 25, which has been published in final form at  This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Funder: H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (GrantNumber(s): 788692)

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