The circular economy meets artificial intelligence (AI): understanding the opportunities of AI for reverse logistics

Matthew Wilson, Jeannette Paschen, Leyland Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: Technology is an important force in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as it has the potential to impact entrepreneurial opportunities and processes. This paper explores the emerging technology of artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications for reverse logistics within the circular economy (CE). It considers key reverse logistics functions and outlines how AI is known to, or has the potential to, impact these functions. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is conceptual and utilizes the literature from entrepreneurship, the CE and reverse logistics to explore the implications of AI for reverse logistics functions. Findings: AI provides significant benefits across all functions and tasks in the reverse logistics process; however, the various reverse logistics functions and tasks rely on different forms of AI (mechanical, analytical, intuitive). Research limitations/implications: The paper highlights the importance of technology, and in particular AI, as a key force in the digital entrepreneurial ecosystem and discusses the specific implications of AI for entrepreneurial practice. For researchers, the paper outlines avenues for future research within the entrepreneurship and/or CE domains of the study. Originality/value: This paper is the first to present a structured discussion of AI's implications for reverse logistics functions and tasks. It addresses a call for more research on AI and its opportunities for the CE and emphasizes the importance of emerging technologies, particularly AI, as an external force within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The paper also outlines avenues for future research on AI in reverse logistics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-25
Number of pages17
JournalManagement of Environmental Quality: An International Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2022


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Circular economy
  • Digital entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • Reverse logistics
  • Reverse supply chain


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