Ratio Working Paper No. 338 Breaking Circular Economy Barriers

PublikationWorking paper
barriers, Circular economy, cirkulär ekonomi, Hållbarhet, markets, Miljöekonomi, recycling, Siri Aasma, sustainability
Working Paper No 338
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Despite high estimated economic gains the implementation of a circular economy (CE) in most areas is generally slow. The purpose of this paper is therefore to examine the potential causes to this sluggish implementation and to discuss and illustrate how different types of barriers (technological, market, institutional and cultural) can prevent the further implementation of a CE. We conduct a systematic literature review where academic articles and “grey literature” on the barriers to a CE transition are analysed and classified into technological, market/economic, institutional/regulatory, and cultural/social barriers. We approach the research problem in a twofold way. Firstly, we recognize the barriers that currently seem to hinder a CE from developing. Secondly, we map these barriers to better understand how they are interdependent and entangled. Our main conclusion is that even small barriers can stop the emergence of a CE.

Grafström, J. & Aasma, S. (2020). Breaking Circular Economy Barriers. Ratio Working Paper No. 338. Stockholm: Ratio.

Liknande innehåll

An Anatomy of Failure – Wind Power Development in China
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Grafström, J.



China is currently the world’s largest installer of wind power. However, with twice the installed wind capacity compared to the United States in 2015, the Chinese produce less power. The question is: Why is this the case? This article shows that Chinese grid connectivity is low, Chinese firms have few international patents, and that export is low even though production capacity far exceeds domestic production needs. Using the tools of Austrian economics, China’s wind power development from 1980 to 2016 is documented and analyzed from three angles: (a) planning and knowledge problems, (b) unproductive entrepreneurship, and (c) bureaucracy and government policy. From a theoretical standpoint, both a planning problem and an entrepreneurial problem are evident where governmental policies create misallocation of resources and a hampering of technological development.

Breaking Circular Economy Barriers
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Grafström, J. & Aasma, S.



Despite high estimated gains of a circular economy implementation, progress on the macro, meso and micro level is sluggish. The purpose of this paper is to examine, from a theoretical economics perspective, how four barriers – technological, market, institutional and cultural – can prevent the implementation of a circular economy. The barriers that currently hinder a circular economy from developing are identified and a mapping of these barriers is performed to understand how they are interdependent and entangled. The conclusion is that even small barriers could stop the emergence of a circular economy. Even though a circular economy is different from our traditional “linear” economy, the theoretical analysis in this paper gives no reason to believe that a circular economy will not follow the same rules as a traditional economy. There will be property rights, rule of law and price signals guiding the economy. If some of the essential parts of a market are lacking, a weaker circular economy than otherwise possible will materialize.

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