Potential product circularity

RISE Viktoria has recently published a paper outlining a metric for quantifying a product’s compatibility with the circular economy.

The circularity metric is presented in this open access paper:
Linder, M., Sarasini, S. and van Loon, P. (2017), A Metric for Quantifying Product-Level Circularity. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21: 545–558. doi:10.1111/jiec.12552

A strength and a weakness of the metric presented in the above paper is that it only estimates how much of a product has previously circulated in the broader economy. It is thus a historical measure, of what has already happened. This is a strength in that it discourages either cynical or simply overly optimistic “greenwashing”. It is a weakness in that it does not capture the long run potential of a product.

Many companies are currently exploring ways to contribute to a circular economy. The design of a product and related business model greatly influences the chances of a product to yet again enter into circulation into future products.

This project will define a complementary circularity metric that estimates such potential-but-not-yet-realized circularity. The potential circularity metric will be defined in a way that is consistent with the underlying theoretical principles constituting the basis for the circularity metric published in the paper above. We will also define rules for how to properly combine the two metrics into a easy to interpret summary circularity metric.

The project is funded by RISE and runs from September 2017 until December 2017. The project is closely related to the project Measuring product circularity (Re:Source) and Business circularity for increased resource efficiency.