Anglia Ruskin University
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Circular business models for sustainable development. A “waste is food” restorative ecosystem

journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 15:29 authored by Antonella Zucchella, Pietro Previtali
The issue of waste is at the core of a possible economic revolution. The debate around the circular economy can contribute substantially to addressing this issue and to provide novel answers to a major problem for humanity. At the same time, we are not still seeing widespread adoption of circular business models in industry; entrepreneurs still seem to be reluctant to embrace this innovation. One of the possible reasons is the inadequate capacity to implement business models, which rest on the mutual collaboration of a system of actors. Our aim it is to provide a better understanding of a business model based on circular principles, focusing on two units of analysis: i. the focal actor as orchestrator of the circular network and ii. the circular ecosystem encompassing suppliers, customers, universities and public authorities. The research method applied is an depth nested single case study of a small company (A&S), using various waste streams to produce manure for the surrounding farmers and surplus energy. To establish their business model, they developed relationships with various actors, thus contributing to the rise of an ecosystem. Our results thus highlight an exemplar case of eco-systemic business model in agriculture, by depicting the traits of a circular organization based on six dimensions of sustainability-oriented innovation. They involve a strong collaboration among various network members, orchestrated by the focal firm and focused on “waste is food” and restorative objectives. The aim of this exemplar case is upcycling and restoring (and not just reduce the impact on) natural resources for a sustainable development. Adoption factors and barriers are also briefly discussed.



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Business Strategy and the Environment





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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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ARCHIVED Lord Ashcroft International Business School (until September 2018)

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