Circular Economy - A Literature Review

Helene Kingo Christensen, Thea Grønnegaard Larsen, Sarah Overby Ridha & Caroline Amalie Ledertoug

Studenteropgave: Kandidatprojekt


This literature review engages with the concept of Circular Economy (CE) in elaborating upon the theory, methods and gaps of the literature. CE poses an alternative to the linear economic model. It aims at minimizing the strain on the environment caused by global production’s heavy use of raw materials, which can be seen in relation to the current linear economic model. The main approaches within CE, employed in this literature review are Industrial Ecology and Cradle to Cradle, as these take into account the implementation of CE and present ambitions for the reduction of environmental impacts. However, CE is a contested concept, and some scholars emphasize lacks of a broader view, rather than primarily applying industrial aspects informed by the engineering discipline. This point is further examined in addition to critiques aimed at a lack of taking account of the economic nature of CE. It is found that literature on CE is mainly embedded within the environmental economics’ strand of critical theory in global political economy. This also applies to some of the critiques furthered. Other strands of critique subscribes to an ecological economics worldview in some aspects. In addition, a potential of linking ecological economics with the concept of CE is furthered to question the role of economic growth in relation to CE. The qualitative and quantitative methods used in the literature surrounding CE is explored. Additionally, several gaps are found in the literature engaging with CE; i.e. the lack of knowledge of the long- and short-term impacts of CE, as well as the lack of focus on consumer behavior along with the lacks of policy concerns and global application of CE.

UddannelserGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Antal sider38
VejledereJakob Vestergaard


  • circular economy