Special Issue on Circular Economy and Industry 4.0

Published 24 July, 2020

For many decades now, production systems have been focused on satisfying consumer demand using natural resources as if they were inexhaustible. On the other hand, the people around the globe, until very recently, have consumed products and used the natural services, withdrawing resources from nature (Mo at al., 2020), under the same approach of infinite availability with which the productive systems have worked (Santibanez Gonzalez et al., 2019; Kumar et al., 2019;). In this context, some products and parts of products end up in a landfill without any recovery effort. For instance, only between 10-40% of e-waste and just 10% of plastics are recovered (Da Silva et al., 2018). In this vicious circle of resource extraction, production of goods and services, and consumption of them we have taken our planet to a critical situation, not only because of the availability of natural resources and their derivatives of products and services necessary to satisfy the population demand, but also causing social transformations that are unprecedented in the recent history, such as massive migration. 

Although we can already see a paradigm shift, we still have a long way to go in making changes that allow the reverse of this situation and transform it into a continuous virtuous circle, where the use of natural resources and energy consumption is minimized, waste generation is reduced and recovering and restoring activities are maximized - this has been called circular economy (Santibanez Gonzalez et al., 2019). It is a strategy that allows us to walk towards a more sustainable planet, where the exploitation of natural resources, with the economic objectives of companies, while respecting society and the environment, is balanced. We are making some small steps in the right direction. One key step is environmental consciousness, that coupled with greater evidence of the effects of global warming, has reinforced the need to be concerned with inadequate disposal and a system of production and consumption that contemplates waste reduction, exploitation of natural resources and enforcing reuse and recycling activities to minimize resource exploitation (Gupta et al., 2019; Santibanez Gonzalez et al., 2019; Yazdani et al., 2019; MacArthur, 2013).

The context of sustainability has also been influenced by technological advances, despite the growth of e-waste, technologies related to industry 4.0 have potential to improve waste management by use of IoT (Anagnostopoulos et al., 2017), However, more use of big data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, among others, are needed to improve the planet sustainability. Therefore, it is worth noting that despite considerable growth in sustainability research (Santibanez Gonzalez et al., 2019; Urbinati et al.,2017), including incorporating new technologies from industry 4.0 (Anagnostopoulos et al., 2017; Cezarino et al. 2019; Rosa et al., 2020), much still has to be discussed. 

In this sense, Sustainable Operations and Computers (SUSOC) will publish a special issue focusing on research that deals with industry 4.0 towards the adoption of the circular economy. Sustainable Operations and Computers is an interdisciplinary journal focused on topics that manages the balances, trade offs, and synergies associated with the integration of economics, environment and social perspectives into traditional decision-making processes. 

The authors have to present initiatives related to circular economy and Industry 4.0 to areas that are relevant to society. So, we invite researchers from a wide-range of disciplines such as economics, business, management science, operational research, operations management, computational science, applied mathematics and statistics to submit their contributions to this special issue. It is recommended to develop contributions that contain, but not are not limited to, some of the following themes: 

  • Circular economy strategies
  • Circular economy and performance and monitoring-based tools
  • Circular economy 4.0: big data, analytics, and IoT 
  • Industrial symbiosis and circular economy
  • Industry 4.0 and food security
  • Smart agriculture on circular economy
  • Smart cities toward a circular economy
  • Smart health and waste management
  • Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem on circular economy

Important Dates 

  • Paper Submission Due: 15 November 2020 
  • Final Decision: 2 January 2021 


Prospective authors are asked to follow the SUSOC guide for authors and submit their papers via the EES (http://ees.elsevier.com/susoc). Please select “SI: CE and Industry 4.0” as the “Article Type” during the submission process. Submitted papers will undergo a normal review process according to the high standard of SUSOC. 

Guest Editors 


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