Proposing Circular Economy Ecosystem for Chinese SMEs: A Systematic Review

Zhejun Min, Sukanlaya Sawang, Rob Kivits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Circular Economy (CE) has attracted so much attention around the world as it can contribute to the balance between economic development and environmental sustainability, to address the increasing critical resources scarcity and environmental issues. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in China are a major driving force in the economy with 43 million SMEs in 2020. Most of them maintain the traditional economic development method of "take–use", without considering the environment. This has caused great harm to the environment and resource availability. Therefore, Chinese SMEs must adopt CE in their business to address this issue. The current study aims to explore the key barriers (lack of time, lack of human resources and finance) and enablers (e.g., network, innovation, and reputation) for Chinese SMEs CE adoption. The current study employs a systematic review approach with thematic analysis to identify the internal and external barriers and enablers of CE adoption among SMEs. Moreover, a CE ecosystem has been proposed for identifying the key actors in the CE system, which will be beneficial for policy-makers to take into account when drafting and adjusting CE laws and regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2395
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Circular economy
  • Circular economy ecosystem
  • SMEs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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