Tallinn University of Technology

Sustainable Value Chain Management research group carried out and presented a study “Enablers and barriers to the introduction of circular economy practises”.


The study was commissioned by the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, (September-December 2021) and will be used as input for preparing the national  industry policy,  circular economy action plan and for the vision for facilitating smart consumption.

The study focused on the possibilities of Estonian small and medium sized companies in transferring their mainly linear business models into circular ones. The study also identified enablers and barriers influencing this transformation, including those that would require state support.

The study focused on four sectors: computers, electronics and optics industry, electric equipment manufacturing industry, chemicals industry and metal industry.

The study was conducted by using the European Environmental Agency methodology that views circular business models of the product life cycle through five phases - materials, design, production and distribution, use and end of life cycle.

Key proposals based on the findings of the study were the following:

  • It is necessary to collect and disseminate industry-specific best practices of circular economy among Estonian professional associations and SMEs. There is a willingness among companies to adopt circular practices at different stages of the life cycle of their products. At the same time the companies reported that there is a lack of knowledge (which can be largely acquired through networks of recyclers, designers and manufacturers, NGOs and research institutes).
  • There exists a need for funding schemes with advisory services for the implementation of resource-intensive circular practices (investment in technology, digitization, certification and quality / eco-labels). These schemes should also include in-house training (by inviting external experts) and employees’ participation in international certification programs.
  • Raising overall awareness about the nature of circular economy and the opportunities for SMEs, as well as for customers, suppliers, NGOs, research institutions, local governments and others to implement circular economy in practice through expanding mutual cooperation as the implementation of circular economy principles requires a networked economy and the interest and involvement of different actors.

As the result of the study, it was found that the companies are already employing elements of circular business models; however, they need financial and non-financial support (consultancy, dissemination of best practice) in terms of implementing new technologies as well as for initiating cooperation networks on circular topics (with R&D organisations, local governments, ‘green’ NGOs, industry associations, customers, suppliers, etc.).

Project manager was Prof. Wolfgang Gerstlberger.

Estonian Research Information System