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Advancing the Circular Economy in Public Sector Organisations: Employees’ Perspectives on Practices

Klein, Natacha; Ramos, Tomás B.; Deutz, Pauline


Natacha Klein

Tomás B. Ramos


Circular economy (CE) is a concept that is gaining attention as an approach to help accelerate the transition towards sustainability. Research has focused on the adoption of CE practices in the business sector while the adoption within public sector organisations has been relatively overlooked. Examining CE adoption in the public sector through the perceptive of employees is crucial because of their expertise in the organisation where they work. The main aim of this study is to identify what public employees perceive as suitable CE practices for their organisations and their critical role in implementation. As the adoption of CE practices is influenced by social and material configurations, this research has taken a case study approach, focused on the Portuguese Central Public Administration. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with public employees working on CE and sustainability issues, and a complementary analysis was undertaken of governmental reports and legislative documents. The results show that public employees view the existence and potential of CE practices mainly in the area of public procurement but also in resource efficiency and optimisation, dematerialisation and in practices related to the R-hierarchy including reduce and reuse. Both technical-oriented practices aimed to achieve traditional resource efficiency, and human-centred practices targeted at reducing consumption and sharing resources have been identified. This research provides insights into how a specific group of stakeholders envisions CE activities for their sector. Identification of practices for central public sector has the potential to assist decision-makers in the process of defining priorities for CE planning, implementation and monitoring. This study focusing on CE practices in central public sector organisations contributes to the calls for an inclusion of human/socially-based practices centred around consumption reduction, sharing and dematerialisation activities to enhance the transformative and innovative potential of CE.


Klein, N., Ramos, T. B., & Deutz, P. (in press). Advancing the Circular Economy in Public Sector Organisations: Employees’ Perspectives on Practices. Circular Economy and Sustainability,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 6, 2021
Online Publication Date Apr 28, 2021
Deposit Date Apr 30, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 4, 2021
Journal Circular Economy and Sustainability
Print ISSN 2730-597X
Electronic ISSN 2730-5988
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Circular economy; Practices; Implementation; Public sector; Employees; Organisations
Public URL
Additional Information Received: 18 December 2020; Accepted: 6 April 2021; First Online: 28 April 2021; : ; : The authors declare no competing interests.


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© The Author(s) 2021. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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