Empirically grounded research in logistics and supply chain management for a circular economy

Call for papers for: International Journal of Logistics Management

Submission deadline: 31/03/2022


The realization that the earth’s natural resources are limited has countries and major corporations embracing the circular economy (CE) as an alternative to the traditional linear extract-make-use-dispose economic model. A CE is restorative and regenerative by design, aspiring to attain a zero-waste vision (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015). Global brands including Apple, Philips, Dell, Coca-Cola, HP Inc., among others, have publicly committed to CE. Gartner, a leading consulting firm, suggested that moving to a circular supply chain is one of the most common trends among global supply chain leaders. It believes that “the future of supply chain is circular, not linear” (Aronow, Ennis & Romano, 2018). The European Union, UK, Japan, and China have incorporated CE into their environmental strategies and policy frameworks.

However, in 2020, less than 9% of the world’s economy was circular (Circular Economy, 2020). The transition to CE faces many challenges and under-researched questions (Farooque, Zhang & Liu, 2019) especially with respect to logistics and supply chain management. For example, how can reverse flows that facilitate product returns and value recovery from wastes be managed efficiently and effectively? Although renewable energy is beginning to replace fossil fuel in transportation and logistics, this transition needs to be accelerated to achieve the CE vision. Further, product designers and supply chain managers must rethink product and supply chain designs. The reuse of resources must be not only in the original supply chains but also across different supply chains.

Circular supply chain management is defined as the integration of circular thinking in supply chain management (Farooque, Zhang, Thürer, Qu, & Huisingh, 2019). A recent review (Zhang et al., 2021) completed by the lead guest editor shows that about 85% of the publications on circular supply chain management in the top academic journals in logistics, operations and supply chain management are modelling-based. Most of these modelling works deal with abstract problems and do not specify any industry or country context. This suggests that there is a need for more empirically grounded research, which motivates us to propose this Special Issue.

In the academia, the circular supply chain management concept (Farooque, Zhang, Thürer, Qu & Huisingh, 2019) was proposed recently. The circular supply chain management concept extends the boundaries of sustainable supply chain management (Seuring & Müller, 2008), green supply chain management (Srivastava, 2007), environmental supply chain management (Zsidisin & Siferd, 2001), and closed-loop supply chain management (Guide & Van Wassenhove, 2006). It advances the supply chain sustainability domain by offering a new and compelling perspective, the CE perspective. For example, a closed-loop supply chain can rarely reuse/recycle all unwanted items within the same supply chain. A circular supply chain goes further to recover value from wastes by collaborating with other organizations outside of the original supply chain (Weetman, 2017). Therefore, a circular supply chain offers greater potential to advance the cause of resource circularity (Farooque, Zhang, Thürer, et al., 2019).

Scope of the Special Issue

The Special Issue aims to advance empirically grounded research in logistics and supply chain management to facilitate the transition to CE. The proposed Special Issue will meet the aim by requiring all submissions to use empirical data for analysis and results validation. Specially, we welcome research works that have made an impact in practice, i.e., in government policymaking and in business decision-making.

The Special Issue will be open to a wide range of scientific research methods so long as the research uses empirical data and the validity of the results is evident from empirical validation. Such methods include, but are not limited to, case study, survey, action research, behavioural experiments, multi-criteria decision analysis, optimization, simulation, and big data analytics. Authors are not restricted to, but are welcome to consider the topics listed below:  

  • Reverse logistics in a circular economy
  • Circular supply chain design
  • Supply chain integration for resource circularity
  • Cross-sector collaboration for supply chain circularity
  • Closed-loop supply chain management
  • Remanufacturing supply chain management
  • Product take-back and extended producer responsibility for a circular economy
  • Green marketing and supply chain management in a circular economy
  • Drivers/barriers/enablers of green logistics, reverse logistics and circular supply chain
  • Smart enabling technologies for green logistics, reverse logistics and circular supply chain

Manuscript Submission

Submissions are due by 31/03/2022. It is highly recommended that manuscripts go through English professional proofreading before submission. All manuscripts will undergo a double-blind review process. Articles should be a maximum of 10,000 words in length. This includes abstract, all text, references, and appendices. Articles should follow the manuscript requirements presented on the author guidelines outlined on the journal’s page.

Submissions to be made through the ScholarOne submission portal and select ‘Empirically grounded research in logistics and supply chain management for a circular economy’ from the menu.

For questions regarding this special issue, please contact the lead guest editor: [email protected]

Guest Editors

Dr Abraham Zhang

Essex Business School

The University of Essex

Southend Campus

Elmer Approach, Southend on Sea

Essex SS1 1LW


E-mail: [email protected]

Professor Stefan Seuring

Faculty of Business and Economics

University of Kassel

Kleine Rosenstr. 1-3

34117 Kassel


E-mail: [email protected]

Professor Janet L. Hartley

Department of Management

College of Business Administration

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green OH 43403


E-mail: [email protected]


Aronow, S., Ennis, K., & Romano, J. (2018). The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2018. Retrieved from https://www.gartner.com/doc/3875506

Circular Economy. (2020). The Circularity Gap Report 2020. Retrieved from https://www.circularity-gap.world/2020.

Farooque, M., Zhang, A., & Liu, Y. (2019). Barriers to circular food supply chains in China. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 24(5), 677-696. doi:https://doi.org/10.1108/SCM-10-2018-0345

Farooque, M., Zhang, A., Thürer, M., Qu, T., & Huisingh, D. (2019). Circular supply chain management: A definition and structured literature review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 228, 882-900. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.303

Guide, V. D. R., & Van Wassenhove, L. N. (2006). Closed-Loop Supply Chains: An Introduction to the Feature Issue (Part 1). Production and Operations Management, 15(3), 345-350. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1937-5956.2006.tb00249.x

Seuring, S., & Müller, M. (2008). From a literature review to a conceptual framework for sustainable supply chain management. Journal of Cleaner Production, 16(15), 1699-1710. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2008.04.020

Srivastava, S. K. (2007). Green supply-chain management: A state-of-the-art literature review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 9(1), 53-80. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2370.2007.00202.x

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2015). Towards a Circular Economy: Business rational for an accelerated transition. Retrieved from https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/TCE_Ellen-MacArthur-Foundation_26-Nov-2015.pdf

Weetman, C. (2017). A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains: Repair, Remake, Redesign, Rethink. Kogan Page.

Zhang, A., Wang, J. X., Farooque, M., Wang, Y. & Choi, T. M. (2021). Multi-dimensional circular supply chain management: A comparative review of the state-of-the-art practices and research. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review.

Zsidisin, G. A., & Siferd, S. P. (2001). Environmental purchasing: a framework for theory development. European Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, 7(1), 61-73. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0969-7012(00)00007-1