HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège
HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège

A comparative study on the adoption of the circular economy in European port cities.

Pirenne, Fanny ULiège
Promotor(s) : Ruysschaert, Benoit ULiège
Date of defense : 21-Jun-2023/28-Jun-2023 • Permalink :
Title : A comparative study on the adoption of the circular economy in European port cities.
Translated title : [fr] Une étude comparative sur l’adoption de l’économie circulaire dans les villes portuaires européennes.
Author : Pirenne, Fanny ULiège
Date of defense  : 21-Jun-2023/28-Jun-2023
Advisor(s) : Ruysschaert, Benoit ULiège
Committee's member(s) : Van Caillie, Didier ULiège
Ferrara, Charlotte ULiège
Language : English
Number of pages : 80
Keywords : [fr] Circular Economy
[fr] Circular City
[fr] Sustainability
[fr] Antwerp
[fr] Copenhagen
[fr] Port
[fr] Strategy
Discipline(s) : Business & economic sciences > Strategy & innovation
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en ingénieur de gestion, à finalité spécialisée en sustainable performance management
Faculty: Master thesis of the HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège


[fr] In a world of over-consumption and relentless growth, cities have a considerable impact on climate change. As part of the problem, cities can also be part of the solution. Local authorities can take action by implementing circular economy principles on their territory, transforming them into circular cities as a result. As the concept of circular city remains elusive in the literature, this study aims at shedding light onto the different opportunities available to the policymakers of European port cities to implement circular strategies and initiatives on their territory. To answer the research question, “What are the differences between circular city strategies and initiatives implemented in European port cities?”, a case study has been undertaken in Copenhagen and Antwerp, supported by semi-structured interviews of relevant stakeholders working for the city in the field of circular economy. At the heart of circular economy is a desire to contribute to climate adaptation and mitigation: although this can involve various fields of interest, this work focuses on waste management, energy transition and material use. As supporting theories, the ReSOLVE framework (Ellen MacArthur foundation, 2015) is used to classify the initiatives into six dimensions of the circular economy whilst the Checklist for Action (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2020) categorises the roles taken by the local authorities to contribute to each initiative. From the findings of this research, even though the two cities are comparable on some aspects, first, they stand out in their advancement in circular economy, second, they approach the circular economy by taking distinct perspectives. In terms of advancement, the key results of this research indicate that local authorities of the city of Copenhagen demonstrate stronger support to the development of circular economy than the policymakers of Antwerp. By contrast, main findings suggest that the port of Antwerp-Bruges demonstrates more advanced circular practices than its Nordic counterpart. Regarding the focus taken in the implementation of the circular economy, Copenhagen is more ecology-focused whilst Antwerp is more technology-focused. Practically, the main findings of this research can be source of inspiration to various stakeholders in their path towards sustainability, including but not restricted to city and port authorities. Through an in-depth description and comparison of circular practices implemented by two European port cities, this study gives further insights on the topics of circular economy and circular city to the literature. Therefore, it can act as a stepping stone for further work on those topics.



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  • Pirenne, Fanny ULiège Université de Liège > Master ingé. gest., à fin.


Committee's member(s)

  • Van Caillie, Didier ULiège Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC Liège : UER > UER Finance et Droit: Diagnostic et contrôle de l'entreprise
    ORBi View his publications on ORBi
  • Ferrara, Charlotte ULiège Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC Liège : UER > UER Management : Sustainable Strategy
    ORBi View his publications on ORBi
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