How to measure circularity?

Measuring circularity is important in order to be able to make weighted choices between processes, products or companies. No generally accepted methodology for this has yet emerged. However, there are a large number of tools, such as scans and databases, that assess circularity qualitatively or quantitatively. Below is an overview of these tools.

Tools to measure circularity

With these tools an entrepreneur or policymaker can answer questions such as: Which production process has the most circular impact? How to select a circular provider? And can you put a figure on how circular your organisation or region is? Only tools have been included in the overview that focus on circularity in particular and not on sustainability in general (such as LCA tools).

Circular Transition Indicators - World Business Council for Sustainable Development launched it at the World Economic Forum, provides a framework to assess a company’s circularity, and quantify the value of shifting towards more circular approaches.

Circulytics: It supports a company’s transition towards the circular economy, regardless of industry, complexity, and size. Going beyond assessing products and material flows, this company-level measuring tool reveals the extent to which a company has achieved circularity across its entire operations. It does this by using the widest set of indicators currently available: enablers and outcomes.

Circularity Gap: Circle Economy presents their Circularity Gap method to measure how circular a company or industry is, and to monitor progress towards closing the gap. The method can also be applied at country and global level.

Delft circularity calculator: The Circularity Calculator is created by IDEAL&CO Explore, the design consultancy company. The circularity calculator helps manufacturers to measure, communicate and improve the circularity of their products in the designing process.

MCI (Material Circularity Indicator) : Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) is an assessment tool for companies to improve product design and material procurement.

Circle Fashion Tool: A digital tool that empowers brands to move from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’.The CFT is a decision-making tool that helps brands evaluate circular opportunities for their business and end of life options for their textile excess.

Underlying framework

A framework underlying most tools is the so-called R-ladder. The higher a strategy is on this list (ladder) of circularity strategies, the more circular the strategy is. Various versions of the R-ladder exist, with the version below being used by the Environmental Planning Office (2017):