Circular Clock model for circular economy implementation in firms: Balance between theory and practice

Vanessa Prieto-Sandoval, Andres Mejia-Villa, Carmen Jaca, Marta Ormazabal


Purpose: The circular economy is a key issue for any company, city, or institution. The linear economy model, based on "take, make, use and waste" of products and resources, has discarded potentially valuable resources and caused serious contamination problems. In contrast, the circular economy (CE) model is a strategic paradigm whose purpose is to regenerate and conserve resources through closed material loops and the sustainable use of energy in its processes. Therefore, a growing number of companies are applying different tools and techniques to implement the CE principles to innovate their products, services, and processes, achieving promising results. Thus, the main objective of this study is to suggest an implementation model named “Circular clock” based on a set of tools and techniques which firms may use for implementing CE.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper presents an empirical analysis based on the triangulation method that includes three different data sources: semi-structured interviews in Spain, academic literature and books, and non-academic publications from institutions and consultancy firms.

Findings: The most relevant result of this study is the proposal of a Circular Clock model for circular economy implementation is based on six fields of action define in the academic literature: take, make, distribute, use, recover, and industrial symbiosis. Moreover, this study may serve as guidance in facilitating the strategic adoption of eco-innovation practices in firms' transition to a CE. 

Research limitations/implications: The sample of companies that participated in the triangulation is exploratory; however, this limitation is overcome by reviewing academic literature and institutional reports. On the other hand, academics could expand the selection of tools with subsequent studies.

Practical implications: The current study is based on the triangulation method, which was vital to balance the theory and practice provided by academic sources, reports, and books. In addition, this study has improved our understanding of the goals or intentions that may motivate firms to implement the CE and align them with the suggested set of tools. Consequently, this study is relevant to support practitioners in selecting a tool based on the goal they want to achieve towards circular economy implementation.

Social implications: This research suggests several tools; however, each organization could adapt some that it already knows. Therefore, firms and implementation leaders should customize the circle with short lines in each case. Moreover, the clock bells represent the deadline considering that every CE implementation process requires a deadline to ensure its success in micro-level or firms.

Originality/value: The "circular clock" provides a didactic way for sustainability leaders, consultants, or companies to facilitate the implementation of the circular economy by choosing the field of action on which they want to focus and the most appropriate tool according to their strategy, objective, and budget.  Therefore, this model is based on the balance between theory and practice.


Circular Economy, strategy, tools, competitiveness, environmental management, implementation

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Licencia de Creative Commons 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, 2008-2023

Online ISSN: 2013-0953; Print ISSN: 2013-8423; Online DL: B-28744-2008

Publisher: OmniaScience