The Role of Government towards a Circular Economy in the Construction Industry: A Systematic Literature Review

  • MKCS Wijewickrama
Keywords: Built environment, Circular economy (CE), Construction industry (CI), Government, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA), Systematic literature review (SLR)


A circular economy (CE) model provides an opportunity for the construction industry (CI) to keep the end-of-life materials in a closed loop with their maximum value while advocating the reduction of significant waste generation and natural resource extraction for the built environment. While previous studies in different geographical regions have been individually carried out on investigating the government engagement in the CE, no solitary study exists that holistically focus upon the role of government that steers the CI towards a CE. With this concern, the objectives of the current study are twofold. First, to investigate the roles through which the government contributes to implementing CE in the CI. Second, it outlines the potential research directions for future researchers to expand the domain under study. To achieve these objectives, a systematic literature review (SLR) was conducted based on the review protocol, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). A total of 125 articles available in four search engines from 2002 to 2020 were incorporated for both descriptive and content analysis. Most articles (19) were published in the year 2019, and China is the dominant country for publishing most of the articles in the area under study. The study found that the government influences the CE in the CI by playing four significant roles: regulating, subsidizing, encouraging and informing. Herein, the government should play these four roles jointly with the amalgamation of government agencies, research institutions and nongovernment associations. The article concludes by outlining the future research priorities to advance the understanding in the domain under study. The value of the study is that it explores an overlooked area in the existing literature while providing a direction for the CI practitioners to understand the government role in paving the path to a CE.


Adams, K.T., Osmani, M., Thorpe, T. and Thornback, J. (2017). Circular economy in construction: current

awareness, challenges and enablers. In: Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Waste and Resource

Management, 170(1), 15-24. doi:10.1680/jwarm.16.00011

Ajayi, S.O. and Oyedele, L.O. (2017). Policy imperatives for diverting construction waste from landfill: Experts'

recommendations for UK policy expansion. Journal of cleaner production, 147, 57-65.


Akinade, O., Oyedele, L., Oyedele, A., Davila Delgado, J.M., Bilal, M., Akanbi, L., Ajayi, A. and Owolabi, H.

(2020). Design for deconstruction using a circular economy approach: Barriers and strategies for

improvement. Production Planning & Control, 31(10), 829-840. doi 10.1080/09537287.2019.1695006

Ali, A., Mahfouz, A. and Arisha, A. (2017). Analyzing supply chain resilience: integrating the constructs in a

concept mapping framework via a systematic literature review. Supply Chain Management: An International

Journal, 22(1), 16-39. doi:10.1108/SCM-06-2016- 0197

Ali, A.K. (2019). Mapping a Resource-Based Design Workflow to Activate a Circular Economy in Building

Design and Construction. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 225. doi:10.1088/1755-


Banias, G., Achillas, C., Vlachokostas, C., Moussiopoulos, N. and Tarsenis, S. (2010). Assessing multiple criteria

for the optimal location of a construction and demolition waste management facility. Building and environment,

(10), 2317-2326. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2010.04.016

Begum, R.A., Siwar, C., Pereira, J.J. and Jaafar, A.H. (2006). A benefit–cost analysis on the economic feasibility

of construction waste minimization: the case of Malaysia. Resources, conservation and recycling, 48(1), 86-98.


Begum, R.A., Siwar, C., Pereira, J.J., and Jaafar, A.H.M. (2007). Implementation of waste management and

minimization in the construction industry of Malaysia. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 51(1), 190-202.


Wijewickrama et al. / The Role of Government towards a Circular Economy….

Benachio, G.L.F., Freitas, M.D.C.D. and Tavares, S.F. (2020). Circular economy in the construction industry: A

systematic literature review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 260, 121046. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.121046

Boulding, K. (1966). The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth.

Calvo, N., Varela-Candamio, L. and Novo-Corti, I. (2014). A dynamic model for construction and demolition

(C&D) waste management in Spain: Driving policies based on economic incentives and tax penalties.

Sustainability, 6(1), 416-435. doi: 10.3390/su6010416.

Chang, Y.T. and Hsieh, S.H. (2019). A Preliminary Case Study on Circular Economy in Taiwan's Construction.

In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 225(1), 012069.

Chileshe, N., Rameezdeen, R., Hosseini, M.R. and Lehmann, S. (2015). Barriers to implementing reverse logistics

in South Australian construction organizations. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 20(2), 179-

doi: /10.1108/SCM-10-2014-0325

Chileshe, N., Rameezdeen, R., Hosseini, M.R., Lehmann, S. and Udeaja, C. (2016). Analysis of reverse logistics

implementation practices by South Australian construction organizations. International Journal of Operations &

Production Management, 36(3), 332-56. doi:10.1108/IJOPM-01-2014-0024

Esa, M.R., Halog, A. and Rigamonti, L. (2017). Developing strategies for managing construction and demolition

wastes in Malaysia based on the concept of circular economy. Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management,

(3), 1144-1154. doi:10.1007/s10163- 016-0516-x

Geissdoerfer, M., Savaget, P., Bocken, N.M. and Hultink, E.J. (2017). The Circular Economy–A new

sustainability paradigm?. Journal of cleaner production, 143, 757-768. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.12.048

Ghisellini, P., Cialani, C. and Ulgiati, S. (2016). A review on circular economy: the expected transition to a

balanced interplay of environmental and economic systems. Journal of Cleaner production, 114, 11-32. doi:


Govindan, K. and Hasanagic, M. (2018). A systematic review on drivers, barriers, and practices towards circular

economy: a supply chain perspective. International Journal of Production Research, 56(1-2), 278-311. doi:


Hao, J.L., Hills, M.J. and Tam, V.W. (2008). The effectiveness of Hong Kong's Construction Waste Disposal

Charging Scheme. Waste Management & Research, 26(6), 553-8. doi: 10.1177/0734242X07085345

Hao, J.L., Yang, J., Hills, M.J. and Huang, T. (2007). A simulation model using system dynamic method for

construction and demolition waste management in Hong Kong. Construction Innovation, 7(1), 7-21. doi:


Hao, J.L.J., Tam, V.W.Y., Yuan, H.P., Wang, J.Y. and Li, J.R. (2010). Dynamic modeling of construction and

demolition waste management processes. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 17(5), 476-

doi: 10.1108/09699981011074574

Hopkinson, P., De Angelis, R. and Zils, M. (2020). Systemic building blocks for creating and capturing value

from circular economy. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 155, 104672. doi:


Huang, B., Wang, X., Kua, H., Geng, Y., Bleischwitz, R. and Ren, J. (2018). Construction and demolition waste

management in China through the 3R principle. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 129, 36-44. doi:


Jia, F., Yin, S., Chen, L. and Chen, X. (2020). Circular economy in textile and apparel industry: A systematic

literature review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 120728. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.120728

Li, J., Zuo, J., Guo, H., He, G. and Liu, H. (2018). Willingness to pay for higher construction waste landfill charge:

A comparative study in Shenzhen and Qingdao, China. Waste Management, 81(Nov), 226-33. doi:


Mahpour, A. (2018). Prioritizing barriers to adopt circular economy in construction and demolition waste

management. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 134, 216-27. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2018.01.026

Mália, M., de Brito, J., Pinheiro, M.D. and Bravo, M. (2013). Construction and demolition waste indicators. Waste

Management & Research, 31(3), 241-255. doi:10.1177/0734242X12471707

Proceedings of the 2nd World Conference on Waste Management, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2021, pp. 9-22

Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J. and Altman, D.G. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews

and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. Ann. Intern.Med, 151(4), 264e269. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-151-4-


Munaro, M.R., Tavares, S.F. and Bragança, L. (2020). Towards circular and more sustainable buildings: A

systematic literature review on the circular economy in the built environment. Journal of Cleaner Production, 260,


Nasir, M.H.A., Genovese, A., Acquaye, A.A., Koh, S.C.L. and Yamoah, F. (2017). Comparing linear and circular

supply chains: A case study from the construction industry. International Journal of Production Economics, 183,

-457. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2016.06.008.

Nunes, B.T., Pollard, S.J., Burgess, P.J., Ellis, G., De los Rios, I.C. and Charnley, F. (2018). University

contributions to the circular economy: professing the hidden curriculum. Sustainability, 10(8), 2719.


Pomponi, F. and Moncaster, A. (2017). Circular economy for the built environment: A research framework.

Journal of Cleaner Production, 143, 710-718. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.12.055

Prajapati, H., Kant, R. and Shankar, R. (2019). Bequeath life to death: State-of-art review on reverse logistics.

Journal of Cleaner Production, 211, 503-20. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.11.187

RMIT University (2021, May 07) “Library subject guides”. Retrieved from

Rodríguez, G., Medina, C., Alegre, F.J., Asensio, E., Sánchez de. and Rojas, M.I. (2015). Assessment of

Construction and Demolition Waste plant management in Spain: in pursuit of sustainability and eco-efficiency.

Journal of Cleaner Production, 90, 16-24. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.11.067

Schamne, A.N. and Nagalli, A. (2018). Evaluation of the potential application of the precepts of solid waste

reverse logistics to the civil construction sector in Curitiba, Paraná. International Journal of Environment and

Waste Management, 22(1-4), 24-47. doi:10.1504/IJEWM.2018.094102

Seuring, S. and Müller, M. (2008). From a literature review to a conceptual framework for sustainable supply

chain management. Journal of Cleaner Production, 16(15), 1699-1710. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2008.04.020.

Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal of Business

Research, 104, 333-339. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.07.039

Stahel, W.R. (2010). The Performance Economy. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK.

Stahel, W.R. and Reday-Mulvey, G. (1981). Jobs for tomorrow: the potential for substituting manpower for

energy, 1. ed. ed. Vantage, New York, NY

Tam, V.W.Y. (2009). Comparing the implementation of concrete recycling in the Australian and Japanese

construction industries. Journal of Cleaner Production, 17(7), 688-702. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2008.11.015

Tam, V.W.Y. (2009). Comparing the implementation of concrete recycling in the Australian and Japanese

construction industries. Journal of Cleaner Production, 17(7), 688-702. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2008.11.015

Tam, V.W.Y. and Tam, C.M. (2006). Evaluations of existing waste recycling methods: A Hong Kong study.

Building and Environment, 41(12), 1649-60. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2005.06.017

Tranfield, D., Denyer, D. and Smart, P. (2003), Towards a methodology for developing evidence-informed

management knowledge by means of systematic review. British Journal of Management, 14(3), 207-222.


Van Buren, N., Demmers, M., Van der Heijden, R. and Witlox, F. (2016). Towards a circular economy: The role

of Dutch logistics industries and governments. Sustainability, 8(7), 647. doi:10.3390/su8070647

Wijewickrama, M.K.C.S., Chileshe, N., Rameezdeen, R. and Ochoa, J. J. (2020a) Best Practices for Diverting

Demolition Waste from Landfill: A Systematic Literature Review In: Scott, L and Neilson, C J (Eds) Proceedings

of the 36th Annual ARCOM Conference, 7-8 September 2020, UK, Association of Researchers in Construction

Management, 675-684

Wijewickrama et al. / The Role of Government towards a Circular Economy….

Wijewickrama, M.K.C.S., Chileshe, N., Rameezdeen, R. and Ochoa, J.J. (2021). Information Sharing in Reverse

Logistics Supply Chain of Demolition Waste: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Cleaner Production,


Wijewickrama, M.K.C.S., Chileshe, N., Rameezdeen, R. and Ochoa, J.J. (2020b). Quality assurance in reverse

logistics supply chain of demolition waste: A systematic literature review. Waste Management & Research, 39(1),

–24. doi:10.1177/0734242X20967717.

Wu, H., Duan, H., Zheng, L., Wang, J., Niu, Y. and Zhang, G. (2016). Demolition waste generation and recycling

potentials in a rapidly developing flagship megacity of South China: Prospective scenarios and implications.

Construction and Building Materials, 113, 1007-1016. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2016.03.130

Yu, A.T.W., Poon, C.S., Wong, A., Yip, R. and Jaillon, L. (2013). Impact of construction waste disposal charging

scheme on work practices at construction sites in Hong Kong. Waste Management, 33(1), 138-146.


Yuan, H. (2017). Barriers and countermeasures for managing construction and demolition waste: A case of

Shenzhen in China. Journal of Cleaner Production, 157, 84-93. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.04.137

Zanni, S., Simion, I.M., Gavrilescu, M. and Bonoli, A. (2018). Life cycle assessment applied to circular designed

construction materials. Procedia CIRP, 69, 154-159. doi:10.1016/j.procir.2017.11.040

Zhao, W., Ren, H. and Rotter, V.S. (2011). A system dynamics model for evaluating the alternative of type in

construction and demolition waste recycling center–The case of Chongqing, China. Resources, Conservation and

Recycling, 55(11), 933-944. doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2011.04.011

Zhu, Q., Sarkis, J. and Lai, K.H. (2018). Regulatory policy awareness and environmental supply chain cooperation

in China: A regulatory-exchange-theoretic perspective. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 65(1),

-58. doi:10.1109/TEM.2017.2734940.

Zink, T. and Geyer, R. (2017). Circular economy rebound. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21(3), 593-602.


How to Cite
Wijewickrama, M. (2021). The Role of Government towards a Circular Economy in the Construction Industry: A Systematic Literature Review. Proceedings of the World Conference on Waste Management, 1(1), 09-22.