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An investigation into practices and determinants of the circular economy in the food by-product management using multiple case research design

Do, Nhu Quynh


Nhu Quynh Do


Amar Ramudhin

Alessandro Creazza


Food waste is one of the biggest global challenges in our modern time due to its serious environmental, economic, social and ethical implications. There is a pressing concern to address this challenge globally, which prompts governments, industries and academia alike to rethink the food system and take actions to reduce and manage the waste issues effectively. A circular economy that drifts away from the linear take-make-dispose model is touted as a practical solution to not only enable dual goals of wealth generation and GHG mitigation but also radically transform the way we look at and manage food waste. However, little is known about how the circular economy can be properly translated and executed in food by- product valorisation. This is intensified by a lack of genuine interest from practitioners as a result of enormous and systemic changes required in the circular economy concept. The practitioners are still struggling to grasp a consistent understanding of the concept for onward implementation. Coupled with a response to calls to move the attention to food by-product management, this study was undertaken to understand the nature of the circular transition with the view to shed light on its implementations in the food by-product management and the associated determinants along the transition process in the UK context.
For the explorative purpose, a multiple case study research method following an abductive qualitative research approach was adopted. The last decade has witnessed interesting dynamics in food by-product management in the UK. For example, anaerobic digestions continue to take off in volume and efficiency, yet other types of innovations continue to exhibit in the valorisation of the food by-products. Therefore, six cases of small and medium-sized food by-product processors were theoretically sampled to elucidate these innovative efforts. The cases have direct involvement in processing food by-products in the UK. This enabled the researcher to explore and gain insights into the phenomenon of circular innovations in the contemporary context of food waste management. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews, triangulated with evidence from other sources, including observations from site visits and exclusively accessed and publicly available documents.
The findings yielded critical themes concerning three research questions. The circular practice specifies the types of innovation practices employed in each case that centre on the operations and technologies, by-product procurement, output products and their markets. A list of 11 drivers and 13 barriers is yielded and aggregated into six themes, regulatory, social, cognitive, economic, supply chain, and technological sources. Interestingly, the technological factor is not listed in the list of drivers. The nexus of circular practices, drivers and barriers is then elaborated on the theoretical anchor of an integrated institutional theory with an institutional logic add-on. Overall, the finding indicates that weak momentum for the circular engagement is due to deep uncertainty perceived in such engagement. Finally, theoretical, methodological and practical contributions are discerned while future research directions are suggested.


Do, N. Q. (2022). An investigation into practices and determinants of the circular economy in the food by-product management using multiple case research design. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 29, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 2, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Jun 1, 2022


Thesis (4.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2022 Nhu Quynh Do. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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