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Network Design Models for Closed-Loop Supply Chains: A Literature Review and a Research Agenda

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posted on 02.02.2021, 12:14 by Azar Mahmoum Gonbadi, Andrea Genovese, Antonino Sgalambro

Presented at the 21st International Working Seminar on Production Economics, 24-28 February 2020 (Innsbruck, Austria).

Awareness towards environmental pollution and the need to achieve resource efficiency has inspired a remarkable interest towards the adoption of Closed-Loop Supply Chain (CLSC) practices. In the Management Science literature, a significant attention has been devoted to CLSC network design problems, which are aimed at providing decision support for ensuring the appropriate configuration of supply chains.

In this research, a careful scrutiny of the identified body of literature is performed, focusing on CLSC network design problems. The review analyses the following elements: (i) the type of decision supported (strategic, tactical or operational); (ii) the coverage of the different sustainability dimensions (economic, environmental, social) within the field of study; (iii) the adoption of different modelling (e.g., deterministic vs stochastic) and solution (e.g., exact methods vs heuristic/meta-heuristic ones); (iv) the applicability of the developed approaches to real-world cases and different types of supply chains.

While the literature in this field is abundant, several gaps can be identified. One of the most notable one is the lack of rigorous assessment of the integration of economic, environmental and social sustainability performances within CLSC network design problems. Indeed, in existing researches, the social dimension of sustainability is seldom evaluated; also, the environmental dimension is generally measured in generic ways (C02 emissions) and not through a rigorous account of the degree of circularity of the devised configurations. Moreover, the integration of strategic, tactical and operational decisions has been scarcely studied as well. This paper will report about these gaps and propose a related research agenda.

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Realising the Transition to the Circular Economy: Models, Methods and Applications

European Commission

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