Supply Chain Configurations in the Circular Economy: A Systematic Literature Review

Donato Masi, Steven Day, Janet Godsell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As the circular economy (CE) gains traction in literature and practice, several academic communities are opening up spaces that move away from the CE as a pure engineering concept. This systematic literature review (n = 77) analyses and discusses the fragmented body of knowledge on the meso-level of supply chains (SCs): (a) to find common ground that underpins the current implementation of the CE on this level; and (b) to identify drivers, inhibitors, and enablers from which CE SC configurations emerge. The review finds that there remain differences in CE definitions that result from claimed antecedents and scopes, resulting in distinct research streams. On the meso-level, eco-industrial parks, environmental SCs, and closed-loop SCs each face significant challenges. The latter potentially offers the largest environmental benefits but engenders radical changes for business models and exposes SCs to more risk. We firstly argue for moving away from using a prescriptive set of practices as definitions for the CE towards a set of overarching goals to allow for the inclusion of future practices and techniques. Secondly, we highlight that research going beyond the meso-level to consider the wider social and institutional environment is needed to solve current challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1602
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).


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