Improving the sustainability of food supply chains through circular economy practices – a qualitative mapping approach


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present a methodological approach to support qualitative analysis of waste flows in food supply chains. The methodological framework introduced allows the identification of circular food waste flows that can maximise the sustainability of food supply chains. Design/methodology/approach: Following a qualitative approach, circular economy perspectives are combined with core industrial ecology concepts in the specification of a standardised analytical method to map food waste flows and industrial synergies across a supply chain. Findings: The mapped waste flows and industrial linkages depict two time-related scenarios: (1) current scenarios showing the status quo of existing food waste flows, and (2) future scenarios pointing out circular flows along the supply chain. The future scenarios inform potential alternatives to take waste flows up the food waste hierarchy. Research limitations/implications: The qualitative approach does not allow generalisations of findings out of the scope of the study. The framework is intended for providing focussed analysis, case by case. Future research involving mixed methods where quantitative approaches complement the qualitative perspectives of the framework would expand the analytical perspective. Originality/value: The framework provides a relatively low-cost and pragmatic method to identify alternatives to minimise landfill disposals and improve the sustainability of food supply chains. Its phased methodology and standardised outcomes serve as a referential basis to inform not only comparative analysis, but also policymaking and strategic decisions aimed at transforming linear food supply chains into circular economy ecosystems.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: CC-BY-NC 4.0. Any reuse is allowed in accordance with the terms outlined by the licence. To reuse the AAM for commercial purposes, permission should be sought by contacting
Uncontrolled Keywords: Circular economy,Food supply chain,Food waste,Industrial ecosystems,Qualitative mapping,Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health,Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Publication ISSN: 1477-7835
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2024 17:05
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2021 10:07
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http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2021-06-22
Published Online Date: 2021-04-30
Accepted Date: 2021-04-12
Authors: Batista, Luciano (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-0367-2975)
Dora, Manoj
Garza-Reyes, Jose
Kumar, Vikas


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