nl en

Closed loop supply chains


Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the master’s programme Industrial Ecology.


The growing concern about scarcity of resources, pollution and emissions has led to increased political and societal emphasis on the transition to a circular economy. This course discusses how product and material reuse and recycling (‘closing the loop’) can contribute to business value creation and the reduction of environmental footprints at the same time. It furthermore discusses how governance and coordination mechanisms may facilitate and impede the development of circular systems.

This course enables you, as a future industrial ecologist, to understand the relevant trade-offs related to economic, ecologic and social aspects of doing business, to understand how change in multi-actor networks can come about, and to apply the necessary tools and concepts to tackle the challenges in trying to close the loop.

The course is divided in two parts. The first part (seven lectures) are dedicated to supply chain aspects of closing loops. In the second part of the course (seven lectures) we will focus on the role of governance and coordination in closing loops. Closed loop supply chains require a certain level of collaboration and coordination between organisations, i.e. firms, governments, consumers, users. Such coordination takes place through different modes of governance: hierarchies, networks, markets. There is a wide array of coordination mechanisms that affect how actors adjust their activities, e.g. taxes and subsidies by government, network alliances, contracts, norms, as well as more implicit mechanisms such as routines or culture. The market mode will be addressed in the first part of this course; in the second part we will therefore concentrate mainly on hierarchies and networks. A list of required reading for the second part will be provided in due time.

Learing goals

By the end of the course, the student is able to:

  • Explain the concept of closed loop supply chain management and how it contributes to sustainability

  • Apply concepts for supply chain process redesign

  • Apply the concepts to practical cases

  • Analyse closed loop chains as multi-actor socio-technical systems

  • Explain in his/her own words the role of multi-actor governance in closing the loop

  • Analyse and identify governance interventions aimed at closing the loop

Teaching methods/mode of instruction

The course consists of two parts, each consisting of 7 lectures. Students work (in and outside) class on individual and group assignments.
The lecturers communicate via Brightspace TU Delft.

Type of assessments

Your final grade is a weighted average of results obtained for:
1. the written exam
2. assignments for part 1 and part 2
Please note that the score of the assignments and the score of the exam need to be 5.5 or higher in order to pass the overall course!
Final grades are expressed by means of a figure between 1 and 10, rounded to the nearest half.


Because this course is part of a joint degree between Leiden University and TU Delft, students (also guest and exchange) have to be enrolled in both universities.

All students have to enrol for the course via Brightspace, TU Delft (before the start of the course) and for the exam via uSis, Leiden University.
Students who are not enrolled for the MSc Industrial Ecology, have to ask for permission from the study advisor of Industrial Ecology ( to join this course, at least one month before the start of the course. After permission students can enroll for the course via Brightspace. This is different for TU Delft students not enrolled in the MSc Industrial Ecology who can choose this course as an elective and only have to ask permission from the course/module manager ( two months before the start of the course.

Exchange students can only enroll for this course if their home university has an exchange agreement with both Leiden University and TU Delft. Exchange students have to ask for permission from the study advisor of Industrial Ecology ( as soon as possible, preferably six months before the start of the course.


More information and the description of the course is published in the e-studyguide of TU Delft.