Eco-innovation in the transition to a circular economy: an analytical literature review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

233 Citations (Scopus)


n the ongoing sustainability debate, the circular economy (CE) has been steadily gaining ground as a new paradigm. At the same time, eco-innovation (EI) has been recognised as a key element in carrying out the transition from a linear to a circutar system of production and consumption. However, little information can be found concerning whether and how El can actually facilitate the change to a CE. While extensive literature on El, and a growing body of research exploring the CE, already exist, there is, as yet, no comprehensive understanding concerning the connections between these two concepts. Drawing on academic contributions from the fields of El and CE, this analysis seeks to clarify and synthesise findings at the intersection of these two fields. The aim is threefold: derive literature-based working definitions of CE and El; review the role of EI at CE's macro, meso, and micro levels; and characterise CE-inducing EI in terms of targets, mechanisms and impacts. Our literature review shows that an El-driven techno-economic transition to a CE requires specific solutions, i.e. different forms of El-driven "clean congruence" at distinct levels of operation. Generally speaking, movement toward a CE is found to be contingent on "systemic" El, that is, not only intense in technology but also involving dynamic and holistic combinations of service innovations and novel organisational set-ups. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2999-3018
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2018


  • Circular economy
  • Eco-innovation
  • Sustainability transition
  • Sustainable development
  • Clean congruence


Dive into the research topics of 'Eco-innovation in the transition to a circular economy: an analytical literature review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this