Mapping facets of circularity: going beyond reduce, reuse, recycle in agri-food supply chains

Jelena Vlajic*, Eoin Cunningham, Hsin-I. Hsiao, Beatrice Smyth, Tim Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The world is facing increasing economic, environmental, and social sustainability challenges. Agri-food supply chains play an intrinsic part in these as both, heavy users of natural resources and a supplier of essential resources satisfying societal needs. In the context of the circular economy, focusing on Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, (3R waste hierarchy) is no longer sufficient. Here an extension is proposed through rethinking the system, redesigning its infrastructure, processes and products, replacing traditional technologies, materials and energy sources with more effective ones and repurposing or recontextualising the use of products, components and by-products. While principles behind these ‘Rs’ are generally known, their application is industry and material/product specific. Within the agri-food supply chain it is subject to strict food safety regulations, packaging requirements, ethical considerations, etc.
In this paper we explore ‘R’ principles discussed in the academic literature, identify ‘8Rs’ concept applicable to biological (e.g., crops, prepared food) and technical flows (e.g., packaging) that appear at agri-food producers and discuss their role in enabling and enhancing circularity in bio- and techno-sphere. We present applications of these ‘Rs’ in four cases relevant to the agri-food sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChallenges and Opportunities of Circular Economy in Agri-Food Sector: Rethinking Waste
EditorsRahul S. Mor, Anupama Panghal, Vikas Kumar
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-16-3791-9
ISBN (Print)978-981-16-3790-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2021

Publication series

NameEnvironmental Footprints and Eco-design of Products and Processes
PublisherSpringer Nature


  • 8Rs
  • Rethink
  • Redesign
  • Reduce
  • Replace
  • Reuse
  • Repurpose
  • Recycle
  • Recover
  • Food products
  • Packaging
  • bio-sphere
  • tecno-sphere
  • Vision
  • Strategy
  • Practice
  • Agri-food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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