Circular economy

Does your business participate in or otherwise support or promote the circular economy?

EXCELLENT Answers

No EXCELLENT answers have been published for this question.

GOOD Answers

No GOOD answers have been published for this question.

OKAY Answers

No OKAY answers have been published for this question.

POOR Answers

No POOR answers have been published for this question.

As defined by WRAP , a circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

In a perfect circular economy, no new biological (i.e. non-manmade) resources or raw materials are used in the production of new products, and only biological materials or product components re-enter the biosphere at the end of the lifecycle of a product (i.e. there is no manmade waste).

The circular economy affects practically all businesses regardless of size or sector: any organisation can take low-cost or even no-cost steps to increase its resource efficiency and minimise waste. Historically, businesses have pursued a ‘take, make, dispose’ mode of production due to the widespread availability of raw materials and resources, and the promise of short term added value. However, in recent decades, the scope and scale of modern economic activity have become bound by environmental constraints. The ‘business as usual’ approach is reaching its physical limits. Further, given increasing demands from consumers and investors to adopt more social, environmental and ethical practices, businesses are under significant pressure to act.

A circular economy is characterised by minimising waste and maximising efficiency. It is tempting, but ultimately unhelpful, to consider the circular economy as ‘recycling’, given it is only one element. Examples of activities which take place in a circular economy include, but are not limited to, a strong emphasis on shifting to renewable energy sources; actively working to promote the health of ecosystems; prolonging object usage and upgradability by design, increasing product performance/efficiency; removing production supply chain wastage; remanufacturing products; and re-using product components.

The financial incentives for a circular economy are powerful. WRAP estimates that circular economy initiatives have generated £2.2bn to the UK economy between 2008-2011. Productivity and efficiency gains have a significant impact at the company level. PwC have implemented initiatives equivalent to an additional £500,000 of turnover per year, and Sky claims savings of £7m per annum by repairing and refurbishing satellite boxes rather than replacing them, according to a Telegraph article written by Sir Ian Cheshire, the chairman of Debenhams, a Government lead non-executive, and the chairman of the Business in the Community environment leadership team.

Evidence suggests indirect commercial benefits for engaging in a circular economy. Research indicates that workplaces with comprehensive recycling programs have happier, more engaged employees. Additionally, businesses that are seen to be making genuine efforts to alter the way they do business, as opposed to simply offsetting costs or making tokenistic gestures, will enjoy significant reputational benefits. For example H&M, a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is working to find ways to make the business 100% circular. Currently, they are working on strategies to create a closed loop for textiles, where unwanted clothes can be recycled into new ones. Similarly, Nike has set a strategy based on a move to low-carbon and closed loop manufacturing.

Linear economy

A linear economy is a 'take, make, dispose' model of production.

Circular economy

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

Eco-efficiency

Eco-efficiency is achieved by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life-cycle to a level at least in line with the Earth’s estimated carrying capacity.

Cradle to Grave (C2G)

Cradle to Grave (C2G) materials, products and product components are those which are generally designed for a single use over a finite period. Some such materials are occasionally recycled but usually only in an attempt to recoup financial investment and without regard to negative impact on quality.

Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

The alternative to C2G, Cradle to Cradle (C2C), is a mode of production in which products, product components and raw materials and resources are designed and used in such a way that they are later recycled and repurposed. In such processes, utility is maximised and over time products may even be improved via upcycling.

Natural capital

Natural capital refers to the world’s stocks of natural assets including soil, air, water and all living things.

Industrial ecology

Industrial ecology is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems. Focusing on connections between operators within the "industrial ecosystem", this approach aims at creating closed loop processes in which waste is seen as input, thus eliminating the notion of undesirable by-product.

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

Explain its policies and practices relating to the circular economy

Describe any relevant policies and practices as they relate to its supply chain, to its direct operations and to its demand chain

Describe what steps the business has taken to progress the transition to a circular economy, especially beyond its dealings with immediate suppliers and customers

All Businesses MAY

Describe what measures are taken to reduce wastage in the wider business ecosystem

Describe if and how the business promotes eco-efficiency

Describe how staff are involved in the transition to a circular economy

Describe the financial benefits of their circular economy initiatives

Explain any other relevant initiatives, practices and policies

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

Explain why they do not or cannot answer YES to this question and list any mitigating circumstances or any other reasons which apply

All Businesses MAY

Indicate any relevant practices and policies, even if they do not fully address the specifications for answering YES

Mention any relevant future plans

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Involvement in and promotion of the circular economy is core to business strategy

Examples of policy and practice which may support the EXCELLENT statement:

e.g. 1 various policies and practices for transitioning to the circular economy evident and clearly articulated
e.g. 2 products are designed to facilitate cradle to cradle functioning
e.g. 3 the majority of staff and suppliers are involved in developing waste minimisation and management policies, with targets regularly set and performance reviewed
e.g. 4 procurement policies take full account of circular economy issues
e.g. 5 the business includes major elements of de-materialisation of products such as renting or leasing products
e.g. 6 business adopts comprehensive waste reduction policies in non-mission critical areas (for example, food waste reduction in staff canteen)
e.g. 7 the business is cited as an exemplar in its industry or sector
e.g. 8 the business performance on maximising utility and minimising waste is monitored and reviewed on a regular basis
e.g. 9 the business publicly and frequently reports on its circular economy activities and initiatives
e.g. 10 the business champions circular economy, campaigning and promoting widespread adoption and action from other actors

To receive a score of 'Good'

The business demonstrates a clear commitment to the circular economy citing substantial examples

Examples of policy and practice which may support the GOOD statement:

e.g. 1 the business includes some elements of de-materialisation of products such as renting or leasing products
e.g. 2 some products are designed to facilitate cradle to cradle functioning
e.g. 3 staff and suppliers are involved in developing waste minimisation and management policies
e.g. 4 procurement policies often take account of circular economy issues
e.g. 5 quantifiable targets are set with regards to internal practices
e.g. 6 the business internally reports on its circular economy initiatives
e.g. 7 the business makes clear public statements about the benefits of the circular economy

To receive a score of 'Okay'

Some circular economy activity demonstrated OR given the nature of the business and its operations, circular economy is not relevant

Examples of policy and practice which may support the OKAY statement:

e.g. 1 published company policies on waste minimisation are well understood, with measurable targets set throughout our business
e.g. 2 policies in place for transitioning to the circular economy
e.g. 3 intent to progress is demonstrated
e.g. 4 materials are recycled (but to minimise a cradle-to-grave progression, rather than to promote a cradle-to-cradle process)
e.g. 5 reporting on circular economy activities is done on an ad hoc basis
e.g. 6 the business may seek advice from exemplars in the industry

To receive a score of 'Poor'

No attention to the circular economy

Examples of policy and practice which may support the POOR statement:

e.g. 1 environmental management focuses exclusively on eco-efficiency
e.g. 2 no evidence of commitment to the circular economy
e.g. 3 no policies on waste minimisation
e.g. 4 the business does not report on waste management or recycling
e.g. 5 no apparent plans to contribute positively to the circular economy
e.g. 6 the business has not really considered the circular economy and how it relates to its operations and impacts