Recycling systems around the world have been thrown into chaos following China’s 2018 ban on the import of plastic waste. However, what has arguably created a global waste crisis can also be seen as an opportunity to re-invent inefficient or ineffective systems that generate unhandled waste streams, with the potential to advance society towards broader goals of waste reduction. Companies from every sector face this challenge, creating a unique opportunity to create shared, collaborative solutions that rethink what it means to reduce, reuse, and recycle in the context of Industry 4.0 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

While plastic is one focus, we work with companies from all sectors to better understand how supply chains can be leveraged to advance the circular economy. Our work includes helping companies understand how to measure and reduce supply chain waste, incentivize supply chain partners to increase materials take-back, and to create innovative systems to improve recycling rates.

At a recent roundtable held at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, more than 30 participants from a range of industries gathered to discuss overcoming challenges to achieving circularity in the supply chain. Some of their insights are summarized here:

Are you interested in advancing circular supply chains? Contact us at to get involved.

Key Publications

Natali, P, Greene, S., & Toledano, P. How much carbon dioxide is actually in your products? MIT Supply Chain Blog. 2019. link

Chena,W., Kucukyazicib,B., Jesus Saenz, M. On the joint dynamics of the economic and environmental performances for collective take-back systems. International Journal of Production Economics 218 (2019) 228–244. link

Bukhari, M., Carrasco-Gallego, R. and Ponce-Cueto, E. Developing a national programme for textiles and clothing recovery. Waste Management & Research. 2018, Vol. 36(4) 321–331. link

Chen, W., Kucukyazici, B., Verter, V., Jesús Sáenz, M. Supply chain design for unlocking the value of remanufacturing under uncertainty. European Journal of Operational Research, Volume 247, Issue 3,
2015, Pages 804-819. link

Efendigil, T. Modelling Product Returns in a Closed-Loop Supply Chain Under Uncertainties: A Neuro Fuzzy Approach. Journal of multiple-valued logic and soft computing 23(3):407-426, 2013.

Ponce, E. & González-Manteca, J. Impact of Emerging Environmental Regulations on the Reverse Logistics System for Portable Batteries in Spain. Environmental Issues in Supply Chain Management: New Trends and Applications. 2012. link

Carrasco-Gallego, R., Ponce-Cueto, E. & Dekker, R. Closed-loop supply chains of reusable articles: a typology grounded on case studies. International Journal of Production Research, 50:19, 5582-5596. link