The place of waste: Changing business value for the circular economy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Business Strategy and the Environment, 2018, 27 (5), pp. 631 - 642
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment Traditionally, wasted resources are considered a burden that imposes a cost on organizations. However, ecological sustainability principles underpinning the linked discourses of industrial ecology and the Circular Economy conceptualize waste as intrinsically valuable. Our research identified exemplar business organizations that had each changed their business models to resolve the tension of waste as a burden and/or resource. Synthesizing these cases, we found these organizations applied systems thinking to reframe their product and service offerings and developed material circular flows in their business models. Analysis of how our exemplar organizations changed their business models to tackle pressing sustainability issues and to resolve the burden–resource tension show that the focus of change is on reconceptualizing their understanding of the role of waste in the value chain of their products and services. This altered understanding of waste as a resource across their value networks initiated negotiations with their existing suppliers to also modify their supply chain practices.
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