Circular economy

Circular Economy: New ISO 59000 Series Standards

The concept of a circular economy is currently not only actively discussed by the world public and the scientific community, but is also gradually being implemented by companies and states around the world. This concept is directly related to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN SDGs, including the goal of transitioning to sustainable consumption and production patterns. At the same time, until recently, no single standard was developed that would include the definition of all key terms, mechanisms and approaches for introducing a circular economy at different organizational levels.

In May 2024, after five years of development, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in collaboration with experts from 75 countries, published three ISO 59000 series of standards. These standards provide a powerful toolkit for implementing circular economy ideas, offering a unified approach to its definition and principles. They are designed for use by organizations of any type and size - from private companies to government organizations and non-profit organizations. It is important to note that the standards are consistent with existing international regulatory requirements in the field of sustainable development and the circular economy (EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, 2020; UK Environment Law, 2021; etc.), and also easily integrate with existing management systems (ISO 14001, 9001, etc.).

The three new ISO standards are:

1. ISO 59004: Vocabulary, principles and implementation guidance. The standard establishes terminology, vision and principles, and provides general guidance for implementing a circular economy in any type of organization.

2. ISO 59010: Guidelines for transforming business models and value networks. This standard complements ISO 59004 and is a more business-oriented document with a focus on the transition from traditional linear business models to circular ones at the organizational and inter-organizational levels.

3. ISO 59020: Performance measurement and evaluation. ISO 59020 provides a framework for measuring and assessing the effectiveness of efforts to move towards a circular model. It provides clear guidelines for data collection, lists evaluation indicators, and proposes calculation methods. This document also serves as a basis for the development of more detailed assessment standards suitable for individual economic sectors. Based on this standard, organizations will be able to more easily assess the effectiveness of their efforts to transition to a circular economy, identify areas of growth, make informed decisions, quantify progress and clearly demonstrate results to stakeholders.

Why should businesses pay attention to these standards?

The circular economy is not just a sustainable development fad, but a paradigm shift that could reshape the entire global economy in the coming decades. But the introduction of the principles of a circular economy into existing business processes is a process of many years of transformation, affecting all aspects of the company’s activities. Therefore, it is now important for businesses to pay attention to the development of this area. This will help you not only adapt to upcoming changes, but also take a proactive position, get ahead of your competitors and become a leader in your industry.

The benefits also include:

● Reducing waste, developing more efficient methods of production and consumption, and as a result increasing economic efficiency and reducing costs;

● Increasing resilience to resource scarcity and other environmental, social and economic risks;

● Improved reputation and relationships with stakeholders.

● Contribution to achieving global sustainable development goals

● Assistance in the implementation of national environmental programs

Thus, analyzing risks and prospects, as well as introducing the principles of a circular economy into business processes, will help take the necessary measures for the successful development and protection of business in the face of tightening legislation, changing demand and growing resource shortages in the future.

ENSOR can help your company on this difficult but very important path, namely:

● Conduct an audit of current business processes and identify risks and opportunities for developing the principles of circular economy in the organization

● Implement the principles of circular economy in accordance with the requirements of ISO 59004 and ISO 59010 standards in the company’s activities

● Develop a sustainable development strategy, including one consistent with the concept of a circular economy

● Assess and assist in optimizing supply chains based on circular economy principles

● Develop educational programs and conduct trainings for company management on the approach to the circular economy

● Assess the level and prepare a report on aspects of the company’s activities in implementing the principles of the circular economy in accordance with the ISO 59020 standard for disclosure to stakeholders