Comparing linear and circular supply chains: A case study from the construction industry


David Garlovsky, BSc, MSc, Certificate in Social Phenomenology
Recovery Insulation Ltd –Sheffield UK and

Dr Andrea Genovese (MSc, MBA, PhD, CMILT), Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Management School, The University of Sheffield, Conduit Road, Sheffield S10 1FL, UK


In the last decades, “green” and sustainable supply chain management practices have been developed in efforts to try and reduce the negative consequences of production and consumption processes on the environment. In parallel to this, the circular economy discourse has been propagated in the industrial ecology and production economic literature and in business and practice. The ideals of the circular economy principles suggests that the frontiers of environmental sustainability can be pushed by emphasizing the idea of transforming products in such a way that there are workable relationships between ecological systems and economic growth.

The Life Cycle Analysis framework is deployed and based on ISO 14040 published international standards. In addition scenario analysis is integrated into the framework to model potential impacts of various recommendations that could be generated from the result of the LCA. By using LCA, the main aim is to assess the environmental impacts associated the supply chain in the manufacture of insulation materials, also understanding the market dynamics, policy and societal implications that could arise by the implementation of circular production systems.

By arguing for these ideals to be integrated into green supply chain management theory and practice, the paper uses a building thermal and acoustic insulation case study. Insulation is a crucial component in the construction of new buildings and “eco” refurbishment projects. The case study demonstrates the environmental gains in terms of carbon emissions that can be achieved through some circular economy principles as against traditional linear production systems. The paper therefore asserts that an integration of circular economy principles within sustainable supply chain management can provide clear advantages from an environmental point view despite some external supply chain influences and scenarios. Further to this, emerging supply chain management challenges and market dynamics were researched by a team and are also highlighted and discussed.

Key Words: Circular Economy, Linear Supply Chain, Construction, Carbon Emissions.

SEEDS Presentation – Comparing Linear and Circular Supply Chains