Published Special Issues Circular Economy and Sustainability

Please find here an overview of published Special Issues in Circular Economy and Sustainability. For forthcoming Special Issues and those still currently open for submissions, please see the individual updates posted here:  

Date Published



The Era of Circular Bio-economy

Guest editors: Electra Papadopoulou, Director of the Greek Bioeconomy Forum (;
Alexandros Stefanakis, School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Greece & Editor-in-Chief, Circular Economy and Sustainability (

Today, humanity is facing significant challenges due to global population growth, ever-increasing living standards and serious environmental issues, such as climate change, ocean waste, declining arable land availability and dwindling fossil resources. To deal with those challenges it is necessary to change the way we live and work. The concept of bio-economy emerged in response to climate change and the need to find alternatives to the finite fossil resources, while the circularity of human economic activities is a response to growing concerns on the unsustainable use and management of natural resources. Their combination, the Circular Bio-economy, is the targeted model of economy. 

This special issue aims to illustrate the latest developments in the various aspects of Circular Bio-economy, such as biomass cultivation and processing technologies, raw materials and products from biomass, recycling technologies and innovative products, new business models, education, policies, sustainability analysis, etc. 

Contributions will be considered on research developments, innovative designs, and experiences from various fields. Review papers summarizing the existing knowledge and technological status of different Circular Bio-economy applications are also welcome after coordination with the Special Issue Editors.

This special issue is run jointly with the Greek Bioeconomy Forum which aims to raise awareness about bio-economy & circular economy and promote the advantages and opportunities presented at local, regional and national level, including among other actions the transfer of know-how and experience in the EU and world-wide. For more information about the Forum, please go to:


Agro-Based Bioeconomy: Prospects and Challenges

Guest editors: Chetan Keswani, Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India (; Alexandros Stefanakis, School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Greece & Editor-in-Chief, Circular Economy and Sustainability (; Ioannis Nikolaou, Department of Environmental Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, Greece (  

The increasing demand in the major agricultural sectors of economy will increase the consumption of fossil energy sources, agricultural land, and fresh water. This demand could lead to irreversible changes in climatic patterns with unpredictable consequences. A possible direction to sustainably address this challenge is increasing the efficiency of currently used processes and displacing of fossil fuel energy sources by production of useful biomass. Over the past three decades, the landmark discoveries in molecular biology have revolutionized multi-dimensionally. Contemporary bioeconomic strategies also support an integration of science, technology, economy, environmental issues, rural and industrial developments, regulatory processes, and social sciences initiatives. This is a great opportunity for molecular and engineering sciences to map and engineer the uncharted territories of molecular transformations that are the key to economic growth. 

Sustainability in agro-based bioeconomy will evolve by incorporating concepts such as smart production with less impact on the environment, as well as by reducing and recycling biowaste into its objectives. Finally, it should be emphasized that biological resources offer unique new functions and properties in comparison with non-biological resources, so that in all contexts, particularly considering the economy, the aspect of innovation must be highly considered. Excellent innovative and mission-oriented research requires long-term support and encouragement from all stakeholders in science, industry, and society to develop smart sustainable bioeconomies. Without this, there will be no “fuel” for the bioeconomy to maintain its innovativeness. The foundations and future of the agricultural bioeconomy are based on strong science and technology pillars, and a dynamic and innovative approach that responds to the constant demands for new scientific and technological knowledge needs to be created. 

Furthermore, bioeconomy requires transforming basic knowledge into successful industrial production and agriculture, including food, novel bioproducts, and resilient germplasms. To ensure this, it will be vital to strengthen and stimulate mechanisms for creating an entrepreneurial atmosphere, whether from the public sector or from the private sector. Agro-based bioeconomy requires a subtle balance between public sector-supported science push and market and social pull, encouraged by industry and investors as well as policy-makers and society. 

The special issue focuses on the integrated approach for sustained innovation in various areas of agro-based bioeconomy. it takes a comprehensive look to underline the upcoming challenges and present most viable options for translating commercially viable ideas into easily affordable agricultural products and technologies.


IEES Conference ‘Closed Cycles 2020’  

Guest editors: Alexandros Stefanakis, School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Greece & Editor-in-Chief, Circular Economy and Sustainability (; Junge Ranka, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, IUNR Institute of Natural Resource Sciences, Switzerland (; Andreas Schönborn, Co-Präsident International Ecological Engineering Society, IUNR Institute of Natural Resource Sciences, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland (

We need to learn how to close cycles! 
Several resources are becoming scarce, while climate change is increasing the pressure. Wealth and well-being of coming generations will depend on our reactions.

Closing material cycles in a safe and sustainable way is a challenge. 
A broad, integrative approach is needed to tackle it. The tight collaboration of architects & planners, scientists and engineers will be crucial in this process.

Ecology is a key competence for future professionals. It teaches how to deal with complexity and fosters systems thinking. Sustainable solutions need to be inspired by a profound understanding of material cycles, ecological functions and - principles.

The ‘2020 Closed Cycles and Circular Society Symposium’ of the International Ecological Engineering Society (IEES) was held during 2-4 September 2020 at the Zurich University of Applied Science in order to foster the most recent practices, innovations and challenges encountered in this field and to develop new approaches as well as the international network. Papers in this special issue are based on presentations given during the conference.


Inaugural Conference of the IS4CE

Guest editors: Ken Webster, Centre for Circular Economy, University of Exeter, UK. (; Alexandros Stefanakis, School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Greece & Editor-in-Chief, Circular Economy and Sustainability (

The International Society for the Circular Economy (IS4CE) is an independent international academic society which serves as a transdisciplinary exercise centered on, but not exclusive to, the potential of the digital revolution to improve our understanding of systems aimed at ‘circularity’ and its fundamental effects on the relationship between people, resources, business and enterprise. This will be especially evidenced in the design of accessible products, services and systems which contribute to an economy that works long term. This takes in both bio-centric and techno-centric materials pathways and associated natural, human social and financial capitals.

IS4CE organized its inaugural conference in 6-7 July 2020, hosted digitally by the Linköping University, Sweden. The conference had research contributions from academics, practitioners, civil society and policy makers, working in the field of circular economy, and it focused on various themes within the circular economy such as the non-linear systems theory (complexity science), the circular design of products, components, materials and systems, finance for circular economy, industrial ecology, business management, business models, climate change and circular economy, bio-economy/ecology, among others.

This special issue includes selected papers presented at this conference.

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