Circular economy as assistance for sustainable development in OECD countries




circular economy, sustainability, sustainable development goals, OECD countries


Research background: Circular economy is of great importance, as it plays a vital role in ensuring the reuse of waste created and, therefore, reduces the waste of limited resources, which is the primary goal of the general economic concept. In line with the circular economy, sustainable development gains great attention, as the United Nations announced the sustainable development goals that should be reached by 2030. Hence, the current paper aims at examining whether the circular economy could be treated as an effective assistance tool for sustainable development of OECD countries.

Purpose of the article: The paper aims to investigate whether the circular economy could serve as an assistance tool for sustainable development and, therefore, seeks to determine if the circular economy could directly impact a country?s sustainable development.

Methods: First, the countries chosen were prioritised using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and the Evaluation Based on Distance from Average Solution (EDAS) methodologies. AHP method was used for weight assignment to the circular economy indicators that were further used for OECD countries? prioritisation procedure for which multi-criteria decision-making method EDAS was employed. Second, to reveal a link between the circular economy ranking results and sustainable development, a comparative analysis was done. Third, the impact of the country?s circular economy on sustainable development was evaluated using the fixed-effect regression model on four years of panel data from 2016 to 2019 for the sample of 32 OECD countries.

Findings & value-added: The comparative analysis of the circular economy?s prioritisation results and Sustainable Development Goals Index (SDGI) ranking showed 20 out of 32 matches, assuming a link between the circular economy and sustainable development could be made. The fixed-effect regression equation results demonstrate that the unemployment rate, poverty rate, air pollution exposure, and CO2 emission per capita negatively influence sustainable development. In contrast, indicators such as gross domestic expenditure on R&D, renewable energy, number of passenger cars in use, and households with Internet access positively impact SDGI. The hypothesis that the circular economy is seen as an assistance for sustainable development and directly affects a country?s sustainability was approved. The paper contributes to the scientific literature in the field of circular economy and sustainable development interaction and could be seen as an assumption for new research directions, focusing on the linkage between circular economy and sustainable development. Moreover, the obtained results could contribute to a country?s policy-makers by highlighting the essential indicators of a circular economy that should be considered while forming the strategy of a country?s sustainable development.


Download data is not yet available.


Aiking, H., & de Boer, J. (2020). The next protein transition. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 105, 515?522. doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2018.07.008.

Ajwani-Ramchandani, R., Figueira, S., Torres de Oliveira, R., Jha, S., Ramchandani, A., & Schuricht, L. (2021). Towards a circular economy for packaging waste by using new technologies: the case of large multinationals in emerging economies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 281, 125139. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.125139.

Avdiushchenko, A., & Zaj, P. (2019). Circular economy indicators as a supporting tool for European regional development policies. Sustainability, 11(11), 3025 doi: 10.3390/su11113025.

Bocken, N. M. P., Short, S. W., Rana, P., & Evans, S. (2014). A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes. Journal of Cleaner Production, 65, 42?56. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.11.039.

Bravo, G. (2014). The Human Sustainable Development Index: new calculations and a first critical analysis. Ecological Indicators, 37(PART A), 145?150. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.10.020.

Bressanelli, G., Adrodegari, F., Perona, M., & Saccani, N. (2018). Exploring how usage-focused business models enable circular economy through digital technologies. Sustainability, 10(3), 639. doi: 10.3390/su10030639.

Calicioglu, Ö., & Bogdanski, A. (2021). Linking the bioeconomy to the 2030 sustainable development agenda: can SDG indicators be used to monitor progress towards a sustainable bioeconomy? New Biotechnology, 61, 40?49. doi: 10.1016/j.nbt.2020.10.010.

Ecologic Institute (2020). Support to the public consultation on a new circular economy action plan. Retrieved form

EEA (2016). Circular economy in Europe. Developing the knowledge base. EEA Report, 2. doi: 10.2800/51444.

Ellen Macarthur Foundation (2013). The circular model ? brief history and school of thought. Retrieved form

Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015). Delivering the circular economy: a toolkit for policy-makers. (Vol. 1). Retrieved form

Emas, R. (2015). The concept of sustainable development: definition and defining principles. Florida International University. Brief for GSDR 2015, 1?3. Retrieved form

Esty, D. C., Levy, M., Srebotnjak, T., & De Sherbinin, A. (2005). Environmental sustainability index: benchmarking national environmental stewardship. New Haven: Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, 47?60.

European Commission (2014). Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe. Retrieved form

European Commission (2020a). Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee and the committee of the regions. Publications Office of the EU.

European Commission (2020b). Consumption.

European Commission (2020c). Raw materials.

Eurostat (2001). Environmental pressure indicators for the EU. Retrieved from

Fan, J., Cheng, R., & Wu, M. (2019). Extended EDAS methods for multi-criteria group decision-making based on IV-CFSWAA and IV-CFSWGA operators with interval-valued complex fuzzy soft information. IEEE Access, 7, 105546?105561. doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2019.2932267.

Geissdoerfer, M., Savaget, P., Bocken, N. M. P., & Hultink, E. J. (2017). The circular economy ? a new sustainability paradigm? Journal of Cleaner Production, 143, 757?768. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.12.048.

Hickel, J. (2020). The sustainable development index: measuring the ecological efficiency of human development in the anthropocene. Ecological Economics, 167, 106331. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.05.011.

Jin, H., Qian, X., Chin, T., & Zhang, H. (2020). A global assessment of sustainable development based on modification of the Human Development Index via the Entropy method. Sustainability, 12(8), 3251. doi: 10.3390/su12083251.

Kirchherr, J., Reike, D., & Hekkert, M. (2017). Conceptualising the circular economy: an analysis of 114 definitions. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 127, 221?232. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2017.09.005.

Korhonen, J., Nuur, C., Feldmann, A., & Birkie, S. E. (2018). Circular economy as an essentially contested concept. Journal of Cleaner Production, 175, 544?552. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.12.111.

Kraujalien?, L. (2019). Comparative analysis of multicriteria decision-making methods evaluating the efficiency of technology transfer. Business, Management and Economics Engineering, 17(1), 72?93. doi: 10.3846/bme. 2019.11014.

Kumar, B., & Verma, P. (2021). Biomass-based biorefineries: an important architype towards a circular economy. Fuel, 288, 119622. doi: 10.1016/j.fuel. 2020.119622.

Li, X. X., Liu, Y. M., & Song, T. (2014). Calculation of the green development index. Social Sciences in China, 6, 69?95.

Libby, R., & Blashfield, R. K. (1978). Performance of a composite as a function of the number of judges. Organisational Behavior and Human Performance, 21(2), 121?129. doi: 10.1016/0030-5073(78)90044-2.

Liu, Y., Li, H., An, H., Guan, J., Shi, J., & Han, X. (2021). Are the environmental impacts, resource flows and economic benefits proportional? Analysis of key global trade routes based on the steel life cycle. Ecological Indicators, 122, 107306. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.107306.

Marino, A., & Pariso, P. (2020). Comparing European countries? performances in the transition towards the Circular Economy. Science of The Total Environment, 729, 138142. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138142.

Marti, L., & Puertas, R. (2020). Assessment of sustainability using a synthetic index. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 84(January), 106375. doi: 10.1016/j.eiar.2020.106375.

Millar, N., McLaughlin, E., & Börger, T. (2019). The circular economy: swings and roundabouts? Ecological Economics, 158, 11?19. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon. 2018.12.012.

Morseletto, P. (2020). Targets for a circular economy. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 153, 104553. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.104553.

Murray, A., Skene, K., & Haynes, K. (2017). The circular economy: an interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and application in a global context. Journal of Business Ethics, 140(3), 369?380. doi: 10.1007/s10551-015-2693-2.

OECD (2019). Waste management and the circular economy in selected OECD countries (OECD Envir). OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264309395-en.

Philp, J., & Winickoff, D. E. (2018). Realising the circular bioeconomy. OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, 60. doi: 10.1787/31bb2345-en.

Ranta, V., Aarikka-Stenroos, L., & Väisänen, J.-M. (2021). Digital technologies catalysing business model innovation for circular economy?multiple case study. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 164, 105155. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.105155.

Rashid, A., Asif, F. M. A., Krajnik, P., & Nicolescu, C. M. (2013). Resource conservative manufacturing: an essential change in business and technology paradigm for sustainable manufacturing. Journal of Cleaner Production, 57, 166?177. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.06.012.

Razminiene, K. (2019). Circular economy in clusters? performance evaluation. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 14(3), 537?559. doi: 10.24136/eq.2019.026.

Roblek, V., Meško, M., Bach, M. P., Thorpe, O., & Šprajc, P. (2020). The interaction between internet, sustainable development, and emergence of society 5.0. Data, 5(3), 80. doi: 10.3390/data5030080.

Saaty, T. L. (1977). A scaling method for priorities in hierarchical structures. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 15(3), 234?281. doi: 10.1016/0022-2496(77)90033-5.

Saaty, T. L. (1985). Decision making for leaders. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, SMC-15, 3, 450?452. doi: 10.1109/TSMC.1985.631 3384.

Saidani, M., Yannou, B., Leroy, Y., Cluzel, F., & Kendall, A. (2019). A taxonomy of circular economy indicators. Journal of Cleaner Production, 207, 542?559. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.10.014.

Shahbazi, S., & Jönbrink, A. K. (2020). Design guidelines to develop circular products: action research on Nordic industry. Sustainability, 12(9), 3679. doi: 10.3390/su12093679.

Shyamprasad, V., & Kousalya, P. (2020). Role of consistency and random index in analytic hierarchy process?a new measure. In D. Dutta & B. Mahanty (Eds). Numerical optimization in engineering and sciences. Advances in intelligent systems and computing, Vol 979. Singapore: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-981-15-3215-3_22.

Souter, D. (2012). ICTs, the Internet and sustainability: a discussion paper. Retrieved from

Tadić, S., Krstić, M., & Brnjac, N. (2019). Selection of efficient types of inland intermodal terminals. Journal of Transport Geography, 78, 170?180. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2019.06.004.

Tjahjono, B., & Ripanti, E. F. (2019). Circular economy ? what does it mean for remanufacturing operations? EFFEKTIVITET, 1, 5?7.

UNDP (1990). Human development report 1990. Concept and measurement of human development. In United Nations development programme. New York: United Nations.

United Nations (2007). Indicators of sustainable development?: guidelines and methodologies. New York: United Nations.

United Nations (2015). Sustainable development goals. Retrieved from

United Nations (2020a). Take action for the sustainable development goals. New York: United Nations.

United Nations (2020b). The sustainable development goals report. New York: United Nations.

Veleva, V., Bodkin, G., & Todorova, S. (2017). The need for better measurement and employee engagement to advance a circular economy: lessons from Biogen?s ?zero waste? journey. Journal of Cleaner Production, 154, 517?529. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.03.177.

Wackernagel, M., & Rees, W. (1996). Footprints and sustainability. In Our ecological footprint: reducing human impact on the earth. New Society Publishers.

Weitz, N., Persson, ?., Nilsson, M., & Tenggren, S. (2015). Sustainable development goals for Sweden: insights on setting a national agenda. Retrieved from




How to Cite

Skvarciany, V., Lapinskaite, I., & Volskyte, G. (2021). Circular economy as assistance for sustainable development in OECD countries. Oeconomia Copernicana, 12(1), 11–34.




Most read articles by the same author(s)