Worldwide, cities are implementing circular economy (CE) strategies to reduce the resources they consume and their environmental impact. However, the evidence of the intended and unintended social consequences of the transition to “circular cities” is scattered. The lack of a coherent overview of the evidence on the subject can hinder effective decision-making in policy and practice.

This study examines the extent to which the current literature addresses the social impacts that a transition to a CE produces in cities. The authors used a methodological approach related to systematic mapping to collate the evidence published over the past decade globally. They find that social impacts have rarely been considered in studies of circular cities, and where they have been discussed, the scope has been quite limited, only covering employment (mostly of informal sector workers) and governance practices. This scoping review highlights the need to further analyse and integrate social impact considerations into decision-making connected to transitions towards circular cities.