Used product acquisition, sorting and disposition for circular supply chains: Literature review and research directions



Gunasekara L, Robb DJ & Zhang A (2023) Used product acquisition, sorting and disposition for circular supply chains: Literature review and research directions. International Journal of Production Economics, 260, Art. No.: 108844.

The vision of a circular economy (CE) inspires firms, governments, and scholars alike. The transition is underway in both practice and the literature, but success depends on the effective implementation of circular supply chains (CSCs), which encompass acquiring used products, sorting them by type and quality, and deciding which to dispose to various processing options. We review 131 high-impact journal articles on returns acquisition, sorting, and disposition (ASD) over the decade 2012-2021 to assess the current status of ASD research for CSCs and to discuss important research directions for supporting the transition to a CE. Uniquely synthesising the state of the art on all these three overarching decision areas, we find aspects of CSCs prominent in the decade's research agenda, such as closed loop supply chain coordination and ASD for remanufacturing, and highlight growing coverage of behavioural considerations. Research applicability has been constrained by a lack of empirical studies, limited practical validation of mathematical models, a focus on economic objectives, and restrictive modelling assumptions about behaviour and uncertainty in returns. We recommend further research in each part of ASD to facilitate a CSC, and as a whole, for transitioning to a CE. CE concepts such as joint decision-making between product design and returns management, cross-sector collaboration, and product-service systems should inform the agenda for CSC research.

Product take-back; Returns management; Circular economy; Circular supply chain; Closed loop supply chain; Literature review

International Journal of Production Economics: Volume 260

FundersMinistry of Business, Innovation and Employment (New Zealand)
Publication date30/06/2023
Publication date online22/03/2023
Date accepted by journal16/03/2023
PublisherElsevier BV