The Circular Economy: Barriers and Opportunities for SMEs

Vasileios Rizos, Arno Behrens, Terri Kafyeke, Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers, Anastasia Ioannou, No
2015 unpublished
The 'circular economy' is gaining momentum as a concept in both academic and policy circles, while circular business models have been linked to significant economic benefits. This paper identifies key barriers and enablers to adopting circular economy business practices, using input from a literature review, discussions held in the context of the GreenEcoNet project and an analysis of two SME circular business models. Main policy messages  SMEs wishing to enter global value chains face
more » ... chains face different types of challenges for which they need practical, technical and legal advice and support.  For SMEs seeking to develop an innovative product within a circular economy, access to suitable sources of finance is key.  Using language that is directly relevant to the core business operations, such as "reduce waste" or "reduce costs" can play a significant role in convincing SMEs of the benefits of the circular economy.  Policy-makers need to first better understand the complex challenges faced by SMEs in order to develop appropriate supportive policy frameworks.  Policy measures to raise consumers' awareness about circular economy practices and products can encourage the adoption of circular business models. CEPS Working Documents are intended to give an indication of work being conducted within CEPS' research programmes and to stimulate reactions from other experts in the field. The opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of CEPS. This paper was prepared in the context of GreenEcoNet, a project financed by the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research, which brings businesses and academia together on an EU-wide platform to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the transition to a green economy.