Purpose: The objective of this research is to put forward a novel closed-loop circular economy (CE) approach to forecast the sustainability of supply chains (SCs). We provide a practical and real-world CE framework to improve and fill the current knowledge gap in evaluating sustainability of SCs. Besides, we aim to propose a real-life managerial forecasting approach to alert the decision-makers on the future unsustainability of SCs. Design/methodology/approach: It is needed to develop an integrated mathematical model to deal with the complexity of sustainability and CE criteria. To address this necessity, for the first time, network data envelopment analysis (NDEA) is incorporated into the dynamic data envelopment analysis (DEA) and artificial neural network (ANN). In general, methodologically, the paper uses a novel hybrid decision-making approach based on a combination of dynamic and network DEA and ANN models to evaluate sustainability of supply chains using environmental, social, and economic criteria based on real life data and experiences of knowledge-based companies so that the study has a good adaptation with the scope of the journal. Findings: A practical CE evaluation framework is proposed by incorporating recyclable undesirable outputs into the models and developing a new hybrid “dynamic NDEA” and “ANN” model. Using ANN, the sustainability trend of supply chains for future periods is forecasted, and the benchmarks are proposed. We deal with the undesirable recycling outputs, inputs, desirable outputs and carry-overs simultaneously. Originality/value: We propose a novel hybrid dynamic NDEA and ANN approach for forecasting the sustainability of SCs. To do so, for the first time, we incorporate a practical CE concept into the NDEA. Applying the hybrid framework provides us a new ranking approach based on the sustainability trend of SCs, so that we can forecast unsustainable supply chains and recommend preventive solutions (benchmarks) to avoid future losses. A practicable case study is given to demonstrate the real-life applications of the proposed method.
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