Measuring product circularity: yes, but how?

Measuring product circularity: yes, but how?

By Marco Capellini

Measuring the product circularity
In the current context, sustainability and environmental efficiency of products have become top priorities for companies in order to ensure a better future for our planet. To confirm this, last April the European Parliament approved the ESPR Regulation (Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulation) on the eco-design of products to improve their circularity. In this new legislative context, the measurement of circularity is seen as a fundamental and complementary tool for assessing the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire life cycle, from production to consumption and on to recovery, recycling or disposal.

What is meant by product circularity?
The product circularity refers to its ability to be an integral part of a circular economy, where resources are used efficiently. Product circularity is characterised by a set of environmental performance and specifications as outlined in Article 5 of the ESPR:
a) durability;
b) reliability;
c) reusability;
d) upgradability;
e) repairability;
f) the possibility of maintenance and refurbishment;
g) the presence of substances of concern;
h) energy use and energy efficiency;
i) water use and water efficiency;
j) resource use and resource efficiency;
k) recycled content;
l) the possibility of remanufacturing;
m) recyclability;
n) the possibility of the recovery of materials;
o) environmental impacts, including carbon footprint and environmental footprint;
p) expected generation of waste.

The importance of measuring product circularity
Measuring product circularity is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it allows companies to identify areas where they can improve the performance of their products by adopting eco-design practices. Secondly, to best meet the requirements of the ESPR and in particular Art. 7 on “Information Requirements”, as all products must communicate their product circularity characteristics to the end consumer. This aspect can positively influence the perception of the brand/product by consumers, as more and more people are paying attention to the environmental impact of the products they buy.

How companies can measure and improve their product circularity
With the ESPR regulation, companies find themselves in the position of having to adopt eco-design strategies and measure the circularity of their products: use of recyclable or renewable materials, disassemblability, reparability, product reuse, service and recycling and reuse programmes, hazardous substances or critical raw materials, are just some of the requirements of the regulation. In order to achieve useful results, which are functional for the company and in compliance with the requirements of the ESPR, it is very important to equip oneself with tools for measuring product circularity that are valid and able to provide quantitative results in order to obtain concrete and tangible feedback: requirements that qualitative measuring tools are not able to offer. In this regard, Matrec’s CircularTool, validated by Bureau Veritas, is a tool increasingly appreciated by companies in various sectors, which allows product circularity to be measured considering all the requirements of the Ecodesign regulation.

In conclusion, measuring product circularity is a key aspect for companies aiming to improve their sustainability and adopt eco-design strategies. By adopting appropriate measurement methodologies and implementing improvement strategies, companies can not only reduce their environmental impact, but also increase consumer confidence and help build a more circular future for all.

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