FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW

Effectively and Efficiently closing technical material flows in circular economy (Advert Reference: RDF22-R/BL/MOS/ZHANG)

   Faculty of Business and Law

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr W Zhang  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Circular economy (CE) is increasingly gaining traction among practitioners and researchers globally (Geng et al. 2019). CE is aimed at minimizing the leaks in both biological and technical material flows. Following the recent emphasis on climate change and net zero emissions and the calls for the minimization of resource use, UK government has reshaped its industry strategy by migrating towards CE which is evident in the “25 Year Environment Plan” published in 2018. To this end, new legal regulations such as “right to repair” that will extend the lifespan of products is now a part of the environmental policy adopted by the UK Government (BBC, 2020). It is particularly aimed at reducing electronic and electrical waste where the companies are obliged to provide repair services to the customers for a time. Key stakeholders in enabling a circular economy are companies operating in supply chains, and their strategic and operational decisions associated with closing material flows are captured by the term closed-loop supply chain (CLSC) management (Souza, 2013).

To assess whether a CLSC contributes towards the broader CE goals, one needs to understand how CLSC performance is measured and how the utilized performance metrics shape the integrated decision making. Previous research has explored the processes and flows of CLSC and research relating to CLSC performance is still in its infancy. However, we can build on and extend the existing models and corresponding solution methods that have been put forward for traditional supply chain management (e.g., Zhang and Reimann, 2014). Similarly, the flow of materials, resources and information transfer is based on the integration of firms in CLSC. However, this transfer might lead to competition between the CLSC firms in the supply of waste and reprocessed material. Therefore, to understand the CLSC metrics and its connection to performance and the dynamics between the CLSC members, the proposed project focuses on closing technical material flows, and specifically on unwanted electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), the UK’s fastest growing type of waste. It is specifically seeking answers to the following questions.

  1. How to measure CLSC performance using metrics and link it to the implementation of CE systems?
  2. What level of integration is required to implement CLSC and how to improve and optimize the performance of the whole CLSC?

In doing so, the first step is to define appropriate metrics for measuring different dimensions of performance at various stages using the existing literature and integrating those metrics along the CLSC. The second step is modeling the supply chain and optimizing the operations (i.e. the flows) between different CLSC members.

The main contribution of this study is that it helps in identifying the key performance metrics in CLSC and links to the debates in CE where the emphasis is on dematerializing and slowing the loop. Further, by taking a supply chain perspective and optimizing the flows, we extend the present studies which are mostly restricted to a company level. The findings can be used by managers to measure the performance in CLSC as well as in optimizing the processes to close the technical material flows effectively and efficiently.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/BL/MOS/ZHANG) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 27th June 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Principal Supervisor – Dr Weihua Zhang

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which includes advice for part-time applicants.


Jin, M., Li, G., Reimann, M. (2022) Team of rivals: How should original equipment manufacturers cooperate with independent remanufacturers via authorisation? European Journal of Operational Research, 296(3):837-845.
Lechner, G., Reimann, M. (2020) Integrated decision-making in reverse logistics: an optimisation of interacting acquisition, grading and disposition processes. International Journal of Production Research, 58(19):5786-5805.
Kleber, R., Reimann, M., Souza, G., Zhang W. (2020) Two-sided competition with vertical differentiation in both acquisition and sales in remanufacturing. European Journal of Operational Research, 284(2):572-587.
Lechner, G., and Reimann M. (2020). Integrated decision-making in reverse logistics: an optimisation of interacting acquisition, grading and disposition processes, International Journal of Production Research, 58(19): 5786-5805.
Seuring, S., Yawar, S.A., Land, A., Khalid, R.U., Sauer, P.C. (2020). The application of theory in literature reviews – illustrated with examples from supply chain management, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 41(1): 1-20
Yawar, S. A and Seuring, S. (2020). Reviewing and conceptualising supplier development, Benchmarking: An International Journal, 27(9): 2565-2598
Reimann, M., Xiong, Y., Zhou Y. (2019). Managing a closed-loop supply chain with process innovation for remanufacturing. European Journal of Operational Research, 276(2):510-518.
Rajahonka, M., Bask, A., Yawar, S.A., Tinnilä (2019). The physical internet as enabler of new business models enhancing greener transports and the circular economy, Sustainable and Efficient Transport, Edward Elgar publishing, Eds. Ellen Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson, Suvi Sankari and Anu Bask, DOI:
Yawar, S.A and Seuring, S. (2019). A framework for managing social issues in supply chains, Handbook on the Sustainable Supply Chain, Eds. Joseph Sarkis, DOI:
Li, G., Reimann, M., Zhang, W. (2018). When remanufacturing meets product quality improvement: the impact of production cost. European Journal of Operational Research, 271(3):913-925.
Kleber, R., Reimann, M., Souza, G., Zhang W. (2018) On the robustness of the discount factor for remanufactured products. European Journal of Operational Research, 269(3):1027-1040.
Yawar, S.A., Seuring, S. (2018). The role of supplier development in managing social and societal issues in supply chains, Journal of Cleaner Production, 182: 227-237
Yawar, S.A., and Kauppi, K. (2018). Understanding the adoption of socially responsible supplier development practices using institutional theory: Dairy supply chains in India, Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 24(2): 64-176
Yawar, S. A and Seuring, S. (2017). Management of social issues in supply chains: A literature review exploring social issues, actions and performance outcomes, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 141:621-643
Reimann, M. (2016). Accurate response with refurbished consumer returns, Decision Sciences, 47(1): 31-59.
Lechner, G., and Reimann M. (2015). Reprocessing and repairing white and brown goods-the RUSZ case: an independent and non-profit business, Journal of Remanufacturing, 5(1): 1-29
Khalid, R.U., Seuring, S., Beske, P., Land A., Yawar, S.A., Wagner, R. (2015). Putting sustainable supply chain management into base of the pyramid research, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal. 20 (6): 681-696
Zhang, W. and Reimann, M. (2014). Towards a multi-objective performance assessment and optimization model of a two-echelon supply using SCOR metrics. Central European Journal of Operations Research, 22(4):15-24.
Zhang, W. and Reimann, M. (2014) A simple augmented ε-constraint method for multi-objective mathematical integer programming problems. European Journal of Operational Research, 2014b, 234(1):15-24.
Lechner, G., and Reimann M. (2014). Impact of product acquisition on manufacturing and remanufacturing strategies, Production & Remanufacturing Research, 2(1): 831-859.
Reimann, M. and Zhang, W. (2013) Joint optimization of new production, warranty servicing strategy and secondary market supply under consumer returns. Pesquisa Operacional, 33(3): 325-342.
Zhang, W., Hou, L., Qiu, W. (2010). Assessing supply chain performance based on problem discovery and analysis. 17th International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Oct. 2010.
PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs