Circular Economy Week is the time to take meaningful steps towards – you guessed it – a circular economy. In this article, we explain why Cirmar believes LCA+ (full responsibility) is the way forward in terms of calculating impact. The gist of it? Circularity is all about material conservation, which is what we should all focus on to really make a difference.
You want to make progress as a company – ideally you design all your products circularly and set up all your processes circularly. That is no easy task, but you can take quick steps that contribute to the circular economy. If you do so, communicating about those steps makes them even more valuable. Lots of companies have already started doing so, often calculating the impact of one usage cycle by means of a life cycle analysis (LCA). We like to go a step further and at the same time make impact data calculation more accessible. To do so, we need a new standard for the circular economy: LCA+. And this is why:
The first, most important point we want to make: circularity is all about material recuperation. Emissions have been used as a measure of sustainability for decades. The agreements laid down in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) are often used as a starting point to express impact in terms of CO2 emissions, among other things. This GHG protocol has various levels (scopes), the most extensive of which (scope 3) includes the impact of investments and transport, in addition to emissions from the production process.
The impact data from methods such as LCA are interesting, but don’t tell us enough about material conservation. To really measure the circular impact of a product, you have to take into account how many materials are preserved for the next cycle. In other words: how much new material (virgin or recycled) do you need to add in the next cycle to make the same product again? This is why in C_passport®, we primarily calculate the amount of materials saved for a next cycle; the indicators CO2 emissions, water and energy consumption, are derivatives.
In a jungle of labels, standards, and sustainability certificates, it is easy to lose track. What do I have to comply with? And how do I know that I am actually contributing to a circular economy?
We think it goes without saying: circular design and production are primarily about preserving materials for new cycles. A calculation of circular impact therefore only makes sense if you consider the first step in a new cycle: how much material, which was lost in a previous cycle, should I add back in the next cycle? That goes far beyond a seal, promise, or certificate – because you show what the reality is. Once you have mapped out what that reality is, you have laid the basis for further developing your products. Doing so in a circular way, means you must keep in mind: reuse materials that would otherwise go to waste. That is why we set the boundary further, at LCA+.
Having an ‘ordinary’ LCA performed is not something you do in 15 minutes. For the time and money (easily thousands of euros per product), you get a lot of information in return. But if you sell a lot of products, it can become expensive and time-consuming to create insights into all your impact data. With LCA+, incorporated in Cirmar’s C_passport®, you calculate the impact of your product in no time. All you need to do is enter the composition and associated weights of your product; we take care of the rest.
This is the starting point for making great strides in the circular economy. By quickly creating insight into the materials you use and save, and then what the environmental impact of those materials is, you pave the way to start making improvements. Last but not least, you communicate your impact honestly and transparently, without having to perform an LCA for every product.
We see more and more companies taking, or wanting to take, the step towards circular products. They do so because they want to have a positive impact on the world, answer the growing demand from customers, or because they want to comply with regulations. Maybe even a combination of all three. Whatever the motivation: getting started is not difficult. By capturing your products in a digital product passport, you create insight into your impact, with LCA+ as the truly circular basis for improvement.
Do you want the key to circular transitions? Let us know, together we will build a circular economy!