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Circular Economy Business Models: A Critical Examination

Charles J. Whalen and Katherine A. Whalen

Journal of Economic Issues, 2020, vol. 54, issue 3, 628-643

Abstract: In recent decades, increasing numbers of scholars and practitioners have rejected the conventional, “linear” view of economic activity (centered on “take, make, and dispose”) in favor of a “circular economy” perspective, which emphasizes the need for humans to live in harmony with Earth’s ecological system. As a consequence, various contemporary business models claim to draw inspiration from this new perspective. However, our critical examination reveals that many of these models say little about—and, on their own, may contribute little to achieving—ecological sustainability. We conclude by stressing the need for public policies that enable society to pursue what institutionalists call “higher efficiency.”

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/00213624.2020.1778404

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