Topic Group 5c Circular Economy, Zero-waste and Innovation


A special issue of the journal Circular Economy and Sustainability based on the Budapest conference was published in 2022.  The contents are: Deutz, Cecchin and Salomone Circular Economy and Sustainability: View from the ISDRS 2020 Conference

Henriques, Azevedo, Dias, Estrela, Ascenço,, Vladimirova and Miller Implementing Industrial Symbiosis Incentives: an Applied Assessment Framework for Risk Mitigation

Rincón-Moreno, Ormazábal and Jaca Stakeholder Perspectives in Transitioning to a Local Circular Economy: a Case Study in Spain

Prieto-Sandoval, Mejia-Villa, Jaca and Ormazabal,  The Case of an Agricultural Crop Business Association in Navarra as Circular Economy Intermediary

Walker, Opferkuch, Roos Lindgreen, Raggi, Simboli, Vermeulen, Caeiro, Salomone    What Is the Relation between Circular Economy and Sustainability? Answers from Frontrunner Companies Engaged with Circular Economy Practices

Klein, Ramos and Deutz Advancing the Circular Economy in Public Sector Organisations: Employees’ Perspectives on Practices

Newsholme, Deutz, Affolderbach and Baumgartner Negotiating Stakeholder Relationships in a Regional Circular Economy: Discourse Analysis of Multi-scalar Policies and Company Statements from the North of England

ISDRS Team visits USA April 2019 to deliver thought provoking discussions on the Circular Economy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: READ MORE 



This track has been closely associated with the H2020 project ‘Cresting’. Outputs including policy briefings and a list of academic publications to date are available from the project website


Innovative research on the circular economy presented at 2019 ISDRS conference is published in leading academic journals


Three papers from the CRESTING project were recently published in Resources, Conservation & Recycling and in the Journal of Cleaner Production. All three papers were based on research presented at the 2019 ISDRS conference in Najing, China.

The first paper is titled “How circular is your tyre: Experiences with extended producer responsibility from a circular economy perspective” (open access) and was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. It examines the governance and sustainability outcomes of the waste management system for end of life tyres in the Netherlands, leading to key insights and recommendations for the sector.

The second paper is entitled “The Circular Economy and Cascading: Towards a Framework” (open access) and was published in the journal Resources Conservation & Recycling X. It integrates cascading and circular economy practices leading to a new theoretical framework that considers the necessities and complicities of circular economy governance.

The third paper is entitled “A typology of circular economy discourses: Navigating the diverse visions of a contested paradigm” (open access) and was published in the journal Resources Conservation & Recycling. It builds the first typology of circularity discourses to date by identifying 72 different CE-related concepts from the Global North and South (such as Gandhian and steady-state economics, buen vivir, doughnut economics and degrowth) and conceptually classifying them based on to their position on fundamental socio-ecological issues.

The presentation of the preliminary results of all three studies in the 2019 ISDRS conference allowed for constructive feedback and helped authors improve the quality and depth of their analysis. The young authors also participated in the ISDRS PhD day, where they received further comments and suggestions on how to improve their papers. The resulting publications are at the forefront of research on the circular economy, showing the usefulness of the ISDRS conferences and network for young academics seeking to publish their results, kickstart their careers and, most importantly, contribute to leading academic debates with fresh new ideas.

Related UN-SDGs

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Next Conference track 5c

Keep up to date with developments of ISDRS 2024 Track 5c here 

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Past Conferences

2019 Nanjing, China

Circular economy was again a vibrant session at the Nanjing conference with some 20 presentations (including posters) divided between four sessions. Presenters came from across the world, primarily representing Chinese and European institutions. Talks covered a wide range of CE themes which can only be briefly reviewed here, but the abstract collection and proceedings can be consulted for more information. Life cycle analysis (LCA) was well represented with talks including strategies for incorporating LCA into decision making, company approaches to LCA; implications of material recovery for LCA of specific products. The role of different stakeholders in building a CE were considered both in terms of collaboration and competition. A range of different scales were addressed including company-scale reporting of performance; adoption of CE practices by SMEs; whilst geographical scales of analysis included community scale recycling, local social enterprises, embedding regional-scale resource availability into product design; potential regional capture of CE economic benefits; national policies and international policy consequences, and global scale resource recovery. In addition systematic literature reviews were presented addressing the relationship between sustainability and CE; discourses of the CE; adoption of CE by the public sector and how to measure its impact. Resource focus of different talks included plastic, phosphorous, food, tyres, packaging, and electronics and the implications of technological driven lifestyles on the CE.

Many of the speakers were early career researchers, who also participated in the PhD student workshop. Thus it seems there is thriving community of CE research, bringing many new ideas. It will be very interesting to see how these projects, as well as those presented by more experienced colleagues, developing in the coming years.

2018 Messina, Italy
Report on track 5c: Circular Economy and Zero Waste

Chaired by Pauline Deutz and Andrea Raggi There was a keen interest in Circular Economy (CE) at this year’s ISDRS conference. The talks and posters covered the spectrum of approaches to the field ranging from product specific LCA to consideration of social implications of a CE.  Read more here

2017 Bogotá, Colombia:
Circular Economy & Industrial Ecology 
Circularity cannot be a dogma, which might not be the best strategy for achieving resource efficiency or sustainable development. CE needs to be considered within the broader perspective of Sustainable Development. A common framework for Circular Economy is not available yet ... read more here
Andrea Cecchin, Pauline Deutz

2016 Lisbon, Portugal:
Circular Economy & Industrial Ecology
Pauline Deutz

2015 Geelong, Australia:
Industrial Ecology, Innovation for the next generation
Pauline Deutz, Damien Giurco

Knowledge Resources

State of the Art:
Getting beyond the messy conceptualization of CE
In a just published article in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, we discuss and synthesize the diverse inputs from a range of academic disciplines into the discourses. We analysed 69 scientific articles that explicitly referred to a waste hierarchy in terms of a 3R, 4R or more. Read more

Recommended Sources
The top useful sources are the following:

1) Useful courses available at the UN SDG Academy; see for example "Globalization: past and future".
2) SDG Academy see for example ‘Natural resources for sustainable development’ 
3) Circular Economy accord to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
4) ISDRS based book: International Perspectives on Industrial Ecology