Guide to help businesses use circular strategies

24th November 2023


The IEMA Circular Economy Network Steering Group has published a guide on how to integrate circular strategies into your business model.

In just six years leading up to 2023, the global economy extracted and used more resources than in the entire 20th century, according to the Circle Economy Foundation’s The Circularity Gap Report. Traditional business models (take-make-use-dispose) drive our overconsumption of raw materials, energy, water and land, and thereby contribute to the increase of carbon emissions.

Organisations of all types will play a vital role in the transition to a circular economy. However, without a clear strategy to address an organisation’s footprint and reduce our reliance on virgin materials, there is a risk that a circular business model won’t make a significant positive impact and could result in rebound, which is when efficiency gains from new approaches fail to materialise. This means that the shift to circularity needs to happen before the business model stage.

This new guide builds on the six goals in the Circular Economy 101 report (which IEMA published in July and is available from www.bit.ly/CE101) to show how these can help develop overarching circular strategies – for example, keeping products in use for longer. The guide aims to identify and answer key questions to help organisations use circular strategies to develop better, circular business models. The guide covers the following sections:

  • Section 1 considers circular strategies and their importance for organisations.
  • Section 2 explains what we mean by the term ‘business model’ and what makes a business model circular.
  • Section 3 provides insight into circular business models in practice, including case studies.
  • Section 4 sets out the imperative for circular business models, explaining why they are better than ‘traditional’ business models that generate negative impacts and lost value.
  • Section 5 considers how to bring the whole organisation along with you.
  • Section 6 explains how and where to find value and revenue in circular business models.
  • Section 7 discusses the enablers that move circularity forward.
  • Section 8 looks at the barriers to businesses that are wanting to adopt circularity.
  • In sections 9 and 10, we provide further reading and key references.

The toolkit will be available to members as an interactive document or as a page-by-page PDF. It will be available online in the IEMA reading room.

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