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As business conversations around the circular economy shift from conceptual aspirations to concrete action plans, leaders are preparing to reshape traditional business models into circular successors. However, the road from intention to implementation is long and complicated, with few points of reference to gauge progress along the way.
Building upon the latest insights from circular economy think tanks and thought leaders, this blog series explores ways in which the circular transformation can be measured at the business level through sustainability performance management systems.
Definition of the Circular Economy
A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles – Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Summary: The Circular Economy Blog Series has enabled UL EHS Sustainability to establish a strong baseline understanding of the Circular Economy and add a unique measurement focused perspective to its development. However, it has also triggered a set of broader conversations to be explored through ongoing engagement. Beginning with an expert roundtable in mid October, the Circular Optimisation blog series will continue to explore ideas for measuring Circular Economy performance.
Throughout the past months we have explored ways in which business progress towards circularity can be measured through the use of reporting tools. From the first post on Measuring Circularity within the Supply Chain to the recent post on Measuring Business Participation in Recovery and Recycling Systems we have established a sound understanding of what the Circular Economy is and the ways in which business participation within it can be measured. Whilst a useful exercise in and of itself, it has also catalyzed various conversations among stakeholder groups, supportive of the thinking but offering new themes to explore.
Conversation with academics, strategists and client representatives have encouraged us to broaden the scope of our initial, metrics only focus, and examine how reporting cuts across some of the fundamental enablers of circularity; policy, reporting, strategy and integration. These four enablers, amongst others, are considered essential to scaling Circular Economy efforts across the business ecosystem. They are the pillars that support a bridge across the chasm between the early adopters and the early majority.
With a new and broader focus around four pillars, the first milestone will be a roundtable in mid October that brings together sustainability, environmental, health and safety leaders to forecast their development and better understand the role of reporting and safety in business progress towards circularity.
Based on the outcomes of this roundtable we will be launching a follow up blog series that explores the ways in which the following can accelerate the transition to a Circular Economy:
- Policy as a driver for the collective shift to implementation and reporting
- Strategy as the intergator of analytics and insight to future business success
- Reporting tools as synthesizers of diverse data flows for on demand performance feedback
- Health and safety as the protector of an evolving workforce and talent market
Stay tuned to learn of the outcomes from the roundtable, and to track the development of our continued focus on finding ways to measure business progress towards circularity.
Adrian Wain is a consultant at UL EHSS. His focus is on bridging the gap between strategic priorities and the information systems that underpin their achievement.