circular-economy

How “circular” are your products?

For all the right reasons, there is a lot of momentum about the circular economy. While it’s easy to agree with its principles of a regenerative and restorative economy, it’s much harder to put things in to practice. Let’s look at what Makersite can do in this context.

 

A product’s circularity score essentially measures two things:

 

  • First, the extent to which linear flows have been minimized and restorative flows maximized for its component materials.
  • Second, how long and intensively a product is used compared to similar, industry-average products.

 

Circularity is essentially derived from a combination of three product characteristics: the mass of virgin raw material used in manufacture, the mass of unrecoverable waste that is attributed to the product, and the utility that accounts for the length and intensity of the product’s use.

 

Any product that is manufactured using only virgin inputs (“feedstocks”) and ends up in landfill at the end of its use phase can be considered a fully ‘linear’ product. On the other hand, any product that contains no virgin inputs, is completely collected for recycling or component reuse, and where the recycling efficiency is 100%, can be considered a fully ‘circular’ product.

 

Now that we’ve set a scale between 0 and 100, we can calculate a circularity score with these simple principles. That’s very useful for many reasons: A score can be set as a target vs actual in the design of new products. It can be used to improve existing portfolios, and make them more circular. Scores can be used for internal reporting or to compare different products and learn from one other. You can also make circularity scores of your products available to the public or selected organizations. You can set minimum circularity thresholds in procurement for products you buy. Investors may take circularity into account for investment decisions, rating companies use circularity as a criterion, and analysts may benchmark different companies within a given sector.

 

In any case Makersite helps compare different versions of a product with respect to their circularity score. How? Remember that circularity is about mass flows. For any product open a Mattermap, for example steel, and look at their mass flows. Every single process step in the making of steel can state to what degree the inputs consisted of virgin raw materials and shows amount of waste for every step. That way you can calculate the circularity score relative to the mass of the product across the entire supply chain. Check out the website blog for a detailed example on indicator calculation.

 

Circularity scores cannot be looked at in isolation however. Complementary impact indicators support some of the benefits of circular models. For example, the energy and water impacts of a given value chain. Complementary Indicators: Material Price Variation Risk, Material Supply Chain Risks, Material Scarcity, Toxicity, Energy Usage, CO2 Emissions, Water footprints. this can get complex. The good news is that all of those are automatically provided in Makersite with every material alternative you consider.

 

Finally, circularity is also about creating and retaining value from products and materials. Studies suggest that a $trillion of valuable materials is wasted every year. Makersite also helps assessing the profitability impact as any material is directly associated to cost.

 

If you’d like to know more about the circularity scoring on Makersite, simply contact us via the chat.