The Institution held a event in London last month with various influencers within the sustainability and resource efficiency field to debate how standards could help mainstream waste prevention and support the transition to a circular economy.

According to a paper issued by BSI after the event, delegates felt that standards ‘could play a role in defining the vocabulary for the circular economy and that the right standards for circularity (that went beyond recycling and operate at a systems level) would drive adoption’.

It was generally felt that circular economy was a topic for international action and that BSI should push for standards at both a national and international level.

While such standards should tackle performance and durability, delegates felt they should not be product or industry specific. Importantly, opinion was voiced that such standards should provide proof where otherwise there would be a lack of trust.

Management issues

Delegates were also asked to frame a series of ‘burning questions”‘ that they felt needed clarification. Among these were whether measurement of circularity was needed and if so, how feasible this would be.

Metrics were identified as an area where standards could be developed to support the circular economy concept. Back in January, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced it was building a metric tool help address this issue.

Circular economy ownership and management issues were also raised, as well as the role of systems thinking and the business models and processes needed to support such a transition.

The paper revealed that prior to the event, the BSI had already drafted a research report on waste prevention and the circular economy looking at the potential role of standards in this area.

Maxine Perella

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