Major companies back draft circular economy business standard

The framework for a circular economy business standard developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI) has received "very positive" feedback from high-profile companies looking to make the transition to a more sustainable and circular business model.

The BS 8001 standard was created in response to stakeholder feedback – including the UK Government and a number of businesses attempting to shift towards a circular mode of operation, such as Kingfisher, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Skanska.

It aims to provide organisations with an understanding of the circular economy’s growing business relevance, and guidance on how to implement the concept’s principles in order to create direct and indirect value as a result of process, product/service or business model innovation.

BSI national sustainable resource management committee chair Phil Cumming said: “There is a lot of theory and talk about the circular economy, but not as much action as there could be. Apart from a handful of fantastic forward-thinking examples, it seems many organisations are still struggling to get their heads around how to get started.”

“Benefits [of BS 8001] include standardising the use of certain terms, some of which are currently open to interpretation and potential misuse, helping organisations identify what their role is, and providing clarity and direction on key issues to enable greater collaborative working. After working through the framework some organisations may even conclude that a circular business model is not for them.’

‘Valuable input’

The piloting process was managed by Forum for the Future and included 16 participating organisations including 3M, Tarmac, Antalis, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Highways England. The draft of BS 8001 is available for public comment until 15 January 2017 and final publication is expected in May 2017.

The standard has deliberately been made jurisdictionally neutral, and according to BSI, feedback from organisations in the UK, Singapore and the US who participated in piloting the draft has been “very positive”. The businesses saw “great value” in BS 8001 and felt the timing was right for this type of guidance, Cumming insists.

“So much valuable input has already been made into this standard by individuals from a wide range of organisations representing business, academia, civil society and government including several from overseas,” he said.

“This shows how important the circular economy is to the current business agenda. To ensure the standard is as relevant and helpful as possible we’re keen to get lots of feedback on the draft. We have even posed supplemental questions on areas where we know there will be conflicting views.”

George Ogleby

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