Circular Economy


What does it mean for Project Professionals?



By Raju Rao

Chennai, India


On the road towards a sustainable future, one of the topics which finds frequent mention is the circular economy. This requires that we all look at projects and operational initiatives with a total life cycle perspective. Key questions that we can ask include.

  • How do we as project managers reconcile between project as a temporary endeavor with a circular economy which is essentially long-term and operational in nature?
  • What contributions can we as professionals make towards the community and society and how we can benefit from the activity?

This paper will deliberate on understanding the opportunities and challenges of a circular economy and what it presents for project professionals. It will help in further exploring our roles in our projects, organizations and society. Examples and case studies will be included to give a picture of current happenings.

Some of the topics that we will deliberate on include:

◼ What is a circular economy? Why do we need it?

◼ Circular Economy and Sustainability – understanding the global perspective.

◼ Project as temporary endeavour vs Circular Economy as ongoing and how to manage the tradeoff.

◼ What do the PM standards have to say on this subject?

◼ Examples of projects and initiatives in the space

◼ What can you do as project professionals?

Understanding ‘Circular Economy’ 

An example

To understand the concept of a circular economy, let us consider a very simple example, one with which we are all familiar. Most of us have a cell phone and often more than one and when we need to upgrade or replace it with another, we either “recycle” them or if dumped it goes to the landfill.

The least preferred option is the landfill as it generates electronic waste which creates environmental hazards due to global warming and the release of toxic gases when the waste is burnt or processed.

Exhibit 1a: Understanding Circular Economy with an example


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How to cite this paper: Last name, initials (2023). Circular Economy: What does it mean for Project Professionals? PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/pmwj134-Oct2023-Rao-circular-economy-what-it-means-for-project-professionals.pdf

About the Author

Raju N Rao

Chennai, India


Raju Rao is an author, speaker and social entrepreneur.

He is the Founder of Xtraplus Learning & Consulting and has been a trainer, consultant and coach for nearly two decades. He often writes for professional journals and is the co-author of two books on project management. He has been a speaker in many global conferences and seminars.

Raju has been involved in the development of many standards in project management. He has worked as a volunteer with PMI and similar organizations for many of their initiatives and projects. He is the Founder of the not-for-profit Forum for Food Recovery, an organization involved in advocacy and education in food waste and recovery management. He is an Ambassador for GPM Global which is dedicated to advancing regenerative solutions and practices for sustainable project management. He is a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.

Raju is a Distinguished Toastmaster and has been an active member of Toastmasters International. He also dabbles in writing fiction and is interested in cooking, running and listening to music.  Raju Rao can be contacted at pmorg.xtraplus@gmail.com