Hospitality SMEs and the circular economy: strategies and practice post-Covid

Robert Bowen*, David Dowell, Wyn Morris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



This research evaluates specific circular economy issues in relation to the hospitality sector. This is investigated in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, considering the impact that the experiences of UK hospitality SMEs had on their circular economy activities. Viewed through a resource bricolage lens, for some this was a consequence of the challenges of the pandemic, while others were proactive in pursuing circular economy strategies.


A sequential mixed methods research design is established based on a pragmatic worldview. The first phase analyses secondary data from the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) to evaluate circular economy aspects on hospitality businesses in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase 2 collects and analyses qualitative semi-structured interview data from directors of hospitality SMEs to investigate the experiences of businesses in this research context.


Results point to a desire for hospitality SMEs to engage in circular economy activities, especially as a means of achieving financial efficiency, however this is sometimes constrained by increased costs. Resource bricolage theory underlines potential advantages for SMEs to engage with the local community to support circular economy activities and bring mutual benefits.


This research contributes to the under-researched topic of circular economy issues in hospitality SMEs. The focus on SMEs is significant as small businesses are more resource-constrained than larger businesses. The context of the post-COVID period is also notable due to changing attitudes towards circular economy aspects from the experiences of the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Food Journal
VolumeAhead of print
Early online date16 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Feb 2023


  • Hospitality
  • Covid-19
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability


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