Model for Circular Human Resource Management

April 2021
PDF version

Take, make, consume, throw away. This is the formula on which our current economy model is based. This approach has introduced unprecedented pressure on our natural resources and on our ecosystems. Conversely, circular economy aims to create positive value loops by increasing, at each stage of a product’s lifecycle, the efficiency of the use of those resources. In this sense, circularity aims to reduce, as much as possible, the environmental impact of resource use and to improve the overall wellbeing of individual citizens.

When referring to circular economy, we often refer to a series of concepts and practices linked to the use of natural capital (our resources) and to the optimisation of physical and technical capital (the eco-design, industrial ecology, recycling, etc.). However, we rarely engage in discourse regarding what circular economy implies in terms of human resources, despite the centrality of this aspect of economy in terms of how companies function. It follows therefore, that in the transition to a circular economy, new thinking in terms of human resource management (HRM) is required.

It is the overarching objective of Erasmus+ funded project “Circular HRM – Enhancing circular skills and jobs through human resource management training”, to design and develop a model of circular HRM practice, for others to adapt and/or adopt. Led by the think & do tank POUR LA SOLIDARITÉ-PLS, it brings together the skills and expertise of seven other partners from different countries: Aris Formazione e Ricerca (Italy), the Center for Knowledge Management (Republic of Macedonia), Fundacion Equipo Humano (Spain), the HR Square Network (Belgium), Kaunas Science and Technology Park (Lithuania), the National University of Ireland-Galway (Ireland) and SGS Tecnos (Spain).

More specifically, this partnership aims to:

  • Explore the applicability of circular economy principles to HRM,
  • Define what a circular HRM model could be,
  • Identify organisations implementing HR practices illustrating this model,
  • Develop training modules designed for HR managers and team managers,
  • Propose a learning and guiding platform for companies,
  • Make proposals to public authorities to support this transition to a circular economy.

This report presents the circular HRM model which has been developed through the collaborative efforts of the project partnership. In addition, the methodology followed is presented, as are the principles of circular HRM which have emerged and their illustration by a certain number of business cases studied in the seven European countries (Belgium, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia). A brief description of these companies can be found at the end of the publication.


Salima Chitalia


European Union