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GENEVA – 25 leading companies from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have collaborated to develop clear metrics which aim to show an organisation’s progress towards the circular economy. The draft ‘Circular Transition Indicators’ cover areas including use of recycled materials, waste and end-of-life recovery, water circularity and renewable energy use. The idea is to create a tool which enables organisations to speak the same language on circularity. “This framework aims to provide broadly accepted guidance on measuring circularity at the organisation level,” says a draft report, which will be followed by the publication of a final methodology and implementation tool in the early new year. “The intention is to build upon existing protocols and standards; it complements assessments and tools used by organisations today,” it adds.

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The methodology aims to offer organisations insights into their circularity performance, allowing them to identify circular opportunities and linear risks with the aim of improving longevity and resilience. By doing this, it is hoped businesses can set a baseline in terms of where they are in the transition to a circular economy.

The draft, which is seeking public consultation, also includes guidelines which show how an organisation can determine its circular economy progress. This information is, in theory, helpful as it might show, for instance, that an organisation may require information and transparency from suppliers and customers or to consider moving business activities up or down in the supply chain to gain more control and information.

The assessment of Circular Transition Indicators is based on material flows through an organisation. The report says: “By analysing these flows, they determine the ability of the company to ensure both resource extraction and material waste are reduced to a minimum. It entails the assessment of the flows within the organisation’s boundaries at three key intervention points:  Inflow How circular are the materials the organisation sources? Outflow – recovery potential: how does the organisation design and process its materials to ensure they can later be recovered, from a technical perspective (for example by designing for disassembly or recyclability)? Outflow – actual recovery: how much actual material recovery does the organisation ensure through different mechanisms it has in place (business models, mandatory and voluntary recovery schemes, contracts, etc.) after materials leave the facility, either as product, by-product or waste stream? The results of this assessment will tell how capable an organisation is of closing the loop of material flows.”

Editor’s comment: There is an excess of information out with regards the circular economy right now. But this is actually a welcome report which is seeking to help companies develop clear metrics on this issue. This is hugely relevant to the apparel industry where, despite all the PR rhetoric, just one per cent or so of materials are fully recycled.

Full paper HERE

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