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What is happening at global level?

Already 94 countries are combining their Circular Economy expertise to develop a number of ISO standards. We need to speak the same language and combine forces. Moving towards a zero waste economy! The number of liaisons is growing while EllenMacArthurFoundation, World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), GRI and ECOS take part from the beginning.

ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy program

ISO is facilitating this important international process, after positive voting on a French (AFNOR) proposal in 2018.

France is facilitating the leadership with Catherine Chevauché (Chair, Veolia) and the secretariat of AFNOR).

The ISO Technical Committee is called ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy.

Five new Circular Economy standards are coming up!

The ISO Technical Committee TC 323 will develop three Circular Economy standards in parallel within three Working Groups, that will operate in close collaboration:

  • ISO 59004: Circular Economy, Terminology, principles and guidance for implementation.
  • ISO 59010: Circular Economy, Guidance on Business models and value networks.
  • ISO 59020: Measuring and assessing circularity.
  • ISO 59014: Secondary materials, Principles, sustainability and traceability requirements.
  • ISO 59040: Product Circularity Data Sheet (PCDS)

In addition two Technical Reports are drafted:

  • ISO TR 59 031 – Circular Economy – Performance based approaches
  • ISO TR 59 032 – Circular Economy – Review of business model implementation

Contributing to the SDGs !

Very important is that the overall scope of the ISO/TC 323 program includes to ‘maximize the contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals’!

This means that the new Circular Economy standards will take into consideration the environmental, social and economic impacts of circular activities.

Circular Economy is strongly related to SDG 12 ‘Responsible consumption and production’ as part of the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. Circularity can also have its roots in other SDGs like circularity of buildings and infrastructure in SDG 9 ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure’.

Circular Economy activities can have a positive impact on many SDGs.

Connecting with existing Environmental standards

Where relevant the new standards will build upon existing environmental standards, especially from the ISO 14000-family. The challenge is that duplication and inconsistencies should be avoided.

It is also crucial not to create contradicting material efficiency indicators, and ensure that calculation, naming, definitions are consistent and aligned. Alignment, non-contradicting guidance with IEC TC 111 is needed.

Circular Economy and Life Cycle Thinking

A complex challenge is to build strong connections between Life Cycle Thinking and Circular Economy.

Both circular solutions and Life Cycle Thinking require systemic thinking, a principle inherent to circular economy.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides insights in the impacts along the entire life cycle and is very well suited to assess the sustainability impacts of circular solutions. By combining LCA for environmental impact, Social LCA for social impact and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) for economic impact an holistic view of the sustainability impact of circular solutions can be achieved.

first international ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy meeting

The first international ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy meeting was held 20-22 May 2019 in Paris.

Due to the Covid-19 situation meetings were held on-line for 2,5 years. From 26 till 30 September 2022 a 5-day hybrid meeting (physical and on-line) took place in Rwanda, Kigali facilitated by RSB.