Conceptualization of Circular Economy 3.0: Synthesizing the 10R Hierarchy of Value Retention Options

Denise Reike*, Walter J.V. Vermeulen, Sjors Witjes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Over the last decade, the circular economy (CE) concept has regained attention, especially regarding efforts to achieve a more sustainable society. Controversies and confusions have accompanied the “revival” of the circular economy concerning its meaning across different actors in science and practice. In Chaps. 3 and 4, we advance clarity in the field through a historical analysis of the evolution of circular economy as a concept and provide a heuristic typology around the stratified use of resources, which forms one of the fundamental principles and strategies in the circular economy. Chapter 3 is primarily based on our earlier published review of circular economy research and the 10R typology of resource value retention options (ROs) for products we suggested until 2018 in academic publications. A more detailed discussion is given in “The circular economy: New or Refurbished as CE 3.0? - Exploring Controversies in the Conceptualization of the Circular Economy through a Focus on History and Resource Value Retention Options” in Resources, Conservation and Recycling (2018). In Chap. 3, we summarize the review core message and reflect upon the role that CE definitions and CE strategies take in shaping CE uptake and in directing implementation actions by societal actors. In the next chapter, we give illustrations on the application of the 10Rs. In Chap. 4, the reader can find the operationalization of the framework in the form of short sector case studies – these illustrate how Dutch(−based) firms in the sector of mobility, clothing, and electronics apply and combine these ten-value retention options in practice. Below, we first distinguish three phases in the evolution of the circular economy, showing that the concept is not as new as frequently claimed and demonstrating the change of meaning and terminology the concept underwent over time. We continue to show the confusion around the circular economy, and it meanings, more specifically, the cacophony around the principle of resource value retention that we had identified in our literature review. To unite the existing views for more clarity in the field, we introduce a 10R typology synthesizing the most common views.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTowards a Circular Economy
Subtitle of host publicationTransdisciplinary Approach for Business
EditorsAldo Alvarez-Risco, Marc A. Rosen, Shyla Del-Aguila-Arcentales
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-94293-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-94292-2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameCSR, Sustainability, Ethics and Governance
ISSN (Print)2196-7075
ISSN (Electronic)2196-7083


  • 10Rs
  • 3.0
  • Circular economy
  • Circularity
  • Hierarchy


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