Circular economy to ensure production operational sustainability: A green-lean approach

Ming K. Lim, Ming Lai, Chao Wang, Sir Yee Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Satisfying the requirements associated with environmental concerns and resource efficiency in the manufacturing process has become necessary to realize effective production management. Specifically, manufacturers must identify novel working procedures or methodologies to enhance the resource efficiency and environmental friendliness of production processes. Green-lean production and a circular economy are promising schemes to achieve this goal. However, compared to green-lean management, the implementation of a circular economy in production operations remains relatively unclear. Several scholars have recommended the combination of the circular economy and green-lean concepts to bridge this gap, however, systematic methods remain to be developed. Considering this aspect, this study proposes a method that integrates green-lean solutions with the circular economy concept. The proposed method is applied in production operations through the principle of continuous improvement to enhance the environmental and resource performance aspects. The method includes three successive phases, which can not only help managers fully identify the opportunities for improvement but also provide managers with directions for improvement by introducing four strategy quadrants. The effectiveness and practicability of the proposed method are proven considering an industrial case of the assembly workshop of an automobile company. The proposed study can support enhance theoretical knowledge regarding the green-lean and circular economy concepts and demonstrates the implementation of a circular economy in the process of optimizing the production operation of manufacturing enterprises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-144
Number of pages15
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Early online date5 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 72071006 and 62073007 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Institution of Chemical Engineers


  • Circular economy
  • Environmental improvement
  • Green-lean
  • Production operation
  • Resource efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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