A methodological framework for the implementation of circular economy thinking in higher education institutions: Towards sustainable campus management

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Many higher education institutions have started to develop academic curricula, research capacity and outreach activities related to circular economy. However, little is known yet on how to apply circular economy thinking to sustainable campus management. In an attempt to address this gap, this paper proposes a methodological framework and guidance to help universities develop a circular economy strategy aimed at improving resource efficiency and environmental sustainability of their campus operations. The approach is compatible with sustainability management frameworks as it follows the well-known iterative process of planning, doing, checking and improving. The framework involves three main steps: analysis of current situation with respect to circular economy within the organisation; stakeholder engagement to get a buy-in and inform the development of a circular economy strategy; and implementation of the strategy following the guidelines provided within the framework. Application of the framework is illustrated through a case of the University of Manchester, demonstrating how circular economy principles can be used to benchmark existing sustainability policies and action plans. The paper also shows how engaging key stakeholders can be used to identify challenges and opportunities for embedding circular economy thinking into the university's sustainability management systems. The proposed framework and the guidelines for implementation of circular economy thinking are generic and can be applied by any institution across the higher education sector.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-844
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date11 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2019

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