The complementary use of game theory for the circular economy: a review of waste management decision-making methods in civil engineering

Giovani Palafox-Alcantar, Dexter Hunt, Chris Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
275 Downloads (Pure)


Circular economy principles aim to contribute towards sustainability and resilience through several simultaneous agendas including economic growth, social development and environmental responsibility. Stakeholders from each perspective have their own interests and priorities, which often result in conflict. There are several and varied methodologies which address the decision-making process, however in engineering spheres these techniques are usually limited to optimising resources, time or costs. Decisions that are comprehensive in scope and integrated across all affected systems are required to transition towards a circular economy, effective cross-disciplinary thinking is imperative and cooperation amongst diverse areas is essential. Game theory is a useful technique when analysing the interactions of stakeholders with multiple objectives and perspectives. This paper aims to critically review methodological approaches used in waste management practice and provide a guidance on how game theory differs from, and is complementary to, the primary decision-making tools available where cooperation is a feature too often missing. This review seeks to justify the development of game theory to complement waste management decision-making methods in civil engineering, where resource consumption and waste management is often voluminous. An application of game theory to a waste management example illustrates that this methodological approach is of complementary value. The contribution of this study to circular economy and solid waste agendas is to emphasise the capability of game theory to help facilitate conflict resolution, competition, and stakeholder consensus when capturing multiple (sometimes conflicting) values in line with circular economy principles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-612
Number of pages15
JournalWaste Management
Early online date25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Circular economy
  • Civil engineering
  • Cooperation
  • Decision-making
  • Game theory
  • Solid waste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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