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Sustainable production: The economic returns of circular economy practices

Davide Antonioli, Claudia Ghisetti, Massimiliano Mazzanti and Francesco Nicolli

Business Strategy and the Environment, 2022, vol. 31, issue 5, 2603-2617

Abstract: Assessing the economic consequences of sustainable production choices aimed at reducing negative environmental externalities is crucial for policy making, in light of the increasing interest and awareness experienced in recent EU policy packages. This assessment is one of the goals of the current work, which tries to provide new empirical evidence on the economic returns of circular economy practices, drawing on previous literature on the underlying determinants of greener production choices, which are stated to differ from standard technological innovations as they are subject to a knowledge and an environmental externality. Using an original dataset on approximately 3000 Italian manufacturing firms, we provide evidence on the relations among innovations related to the circular economy concept and economic outcome in the short run. The evidence shows that in the short run, it is difficult to obtain economic gains from circular economy related innovations when taken in isolation, especially for Small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs), who may also experience negative returns.

Date: 2022
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