Increasingly, circular economy (CE) has been adopted globally to operationalize supply chain sustainability. The development of industry 4.0 technologies provides a new opportunity to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of adoption of CE, in particular, from the waste management perspective. More recently, scholars acknowledge the need for more studies on industry 4.0 and CE-driven sustainability aspects in supply chains. This research aims to fill the literature void and make a contribution from the perspective of smart waste management in supply chains using industry 4.0-based CE operations. Eleven key drivers were identified through semi-structured interviews, administered to experienced supply chain practitioners in China. A fuzzy DEMATEL method was used to analyse the interrelationships among these key drivers. The results show that the most fundamental causal drivers of smart waste management are overcoming operational challenges, recovering value, speeding up operations, saving cost and improving profit. There is a virtuous cycle between market demand and the improving price-performance ratio of industry 4.0 technologies. Our findings are part of the development of a bottom-up approach to adopting smart waste management in supply chains. The interrelationships identified in this research provide valuable insights into driving forces. Organizations, policy makers and technology providers can apply these insights when utilizing industry 4.0 technologies to improve supply chain waste management in line with the CE principle, and to achieve supply chain sustainability.