A set of indicators to measure the progress of a company to a more circular economy business model has been set out in a new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF).
The measures consist of a main benchmark, the material circularity indicator (MCI), which determines how restorative the material flows of a product or company are. It is supported by a number of complementary indicators that enable an organisation to take into account additional impacts and risks.
By measuring material flows, including how much virgin or recycled material goes into the production process, the MCI ascribes a value of between 0 and 1, with higher values indicating higher circularity. Toxicity, scarcity and energy are among the issues included as complementary indicators.
The report, Circularity indicators, says the benchmarks can be used as a decision-making tool for designers as well as for other purposes, including internal reporting, procurement decisions and rating or evaluating companies.
The indicators have been developed to fill a gap, as there is no recognised way of estimating how effective a product or company is in moving from a linear "take, make, dispose" operation to a circular mode, says the EMF.
Several examples of how the circularity indicators can be used are included in the report. These, says the EMF, are inspired by actual cases of companies adopting circular economy principles.
The EMF has also developed an online assessment system for product designs, giving companies the tools to track their progress in delivering circular economy-based business models.
Details of the indicators were published as the UK national standards body BSI established a committee to develop a framework standard for businesses on the circular economy.