Circular Branches : Inter-organisational collaboration for circular economy in wood-based manufacturing in the Nordics
Abstract: Circular economy (CE) proposes a transition in production and consumption practices that has a key relevance in wood-based industries, since forests are also connected to climate and biodiversity goals. If the bioeconomy is to sustainably suffice the increasing demand in the Nordics, wood-based manufacturing should become more circular. The wood commodity has embedded some circular principles to its production processes, but generally employs a waste management perspective, and research gaps exist on the relationships between actors. Inter-organisational collaboration (IOC) has been presented as key to enable effective circular solutions. While some studies exist in converging IOC and circularity, previous research demand empirical investigations. This thesis investigates the current state of IOCs for forming and improving circular value chains in wood-based manufacturing, while empirically validating the CE and supply chain collaboration model by Calicchio Berardi and Peregrino de Brito (2021). To this aim, network and IOC theory form the theoretical underpinning. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with Nordic wood-based manufacturing companies. Findings show that IOCs for the CE can concern material sourcing, side streams, and/or main products, and the nature and extent of these collaborations are explained. Side stream collaborations were strong for companies close to the primary resource, and for those material sourcing IOCs for circularity took the shape of new requirements. Main product collaborations were very diverse and recent, indicating a growing trend in collaborating for circularity. Based on empirical data, a linguistic change from supply chain to value cycles is proposed. The model used is found valid and mostly represented in this study, indicating how these IOCs form and improve. However, a revised version is presented – the CE and value cycles collaboration model – based on empirical findings from this study. The authors then indicate future research streams possibilities and practical implications of the study.
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