Although there is tremendous excitement about the circular economy among researchers, a gap between knowledge and practice still exists. Utrecht University’s circular economy experts Julian Kirchherr and Ralf van Santen have identified five barriers. They published their analysis in the Resources, Conservation & Recycling journal, and offer recommendations.
Lack of empirical work and extensive studies
Kirchherr and Van Santen, researcher and former research assistant at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, analyzed 160 papers on circular economy. Only 55% of the examined articles were empirical studies, whereas the remaining 45% were more conceptual. Such as the extensive literature study on 114 definitions of circular economy (and a concluding 115th one) written by Kirchherr himself. The researchers now believe there is lack of empirical work. “Practitioners don’t care about the definitional nuances, they want empirical work that provides evidence on how to make circular economy works”, they write. Furthermore, many of the empirical studies has been done in small numbers. Samples of less than 10 were seen in over 60% of the cases.