Circular Economy Activities in the EU: Mapping SME Patterns of Implementation and their Correlates

Tally Katz-Gerro, Jordi López-Sintas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the European Commission looking for ways to incentivize the adoption of circular economy (CE) activities by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU, further insights into the implementation of CE activities across member states are needed. We analyse a European Commission survey conducted in 2016 among circa 11,000 firms in EU-28 member states in order to throw light on the conditions in which SMEs engage in five specific CE activities. In contrast to previous studies arguing that CE activities are independent of each other, we present novel findings demonstrating that seven patterns of engagement in CE can be identified in which activities are systematically interdependent. Further, we show that these patterns are associated with the organizational properties of
SMEs and are differentially distributed among EU member states and industrial sectors. The interdependency of activities forms a hierarchy in which waste minimization is the most likely activity to be implemented in SMEs, followed, in descending order of likelihood, by re-planning of energy use, redesigning products and services, and finally using renewable energy and re-planning water usage. The findings have theoretical, managerial and policy implications for the adoption of interdependent CE activities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Nov 2018


  • Circular Economy
  • SMEs
  • Environment
  • Sustainability
  • Europe

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute


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