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BSI launches world’s first circular economy standard

BSI, the UK’s national standards organisation, has launched a new standard for the circular economy, ‘BS 8001:2017: Framework for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organisations – guide’, the world’s first for implementing circular economy principles.

BSI launches world’s first circular economy standard
The new standard is the first framework of its kind and is designed to be applicable to businesses of all sizes as they seek to move to a more circular model. BSI 8001 aims to aid the navigation of the tricky transition period for businesses towards a circular model, outlining what the circular economy is and providing guidelines for the implementation of more sustainable practices.

BS 8001 is built on six principles of the circular economy – innovation, stewardship, collaboration, value optimisations, transparency and ‘systems thinking’ – and the idea that components, products and materials should be kept at their highest utility and value at all times, placing emphasis on the importance of an economy that is restorative and regenerative.

Guidance included in the standard revolves around specific issues that may hamper the transition to the circular economy, such as measurements, liability and insurance, logistical concerns and materials, and also guides on associated business models such as leasing, the sharing economy, and remanufacturing.

The new standard has been welcomed by industry, with CIWM Chief Executive Dr Colin Church saying: “As members of the Drafting Group for the standard, we are delighted that it is now available for businesses of every size and type to use. Resource efficiency and circular economic practices are not just CSR buzzwords, they make real bottom line business sense.”

According to CIWM, the standard has been specifically written to be applicable to any organisation, regardless of location, size, sector and type, and caters to varying levels of knowledge and understanding of the circular economy. It provides practical ways to implement and exploit the benefits of circular economic thinking, from securing smaller ‘quick-wins’ right through to helping organisations re-think holistically how their resources are managed to maximise the financial, environmental and social benefits.  

The principles and guidelines within the standard are not meant to be prescriptive, but are intended to be used flexibly by businesses and organisations, no matter their size or stage of transition to the circular economy, to reduce costs and supply chain risks while contributing to a low carbon and resource efficient economy.

Further benefits for businesses include increased resilience, new revenue streams and enhanced corporate sustainability credentials.

The standard has been developed with input from UK businesses and organisations – including the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Zero Waste Scotland, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Welsh and Scottish Governments, Green Alliance, Marks & Spencer, WRAP and more – to ensure the standard is useable in practice and that the language is accessible to all users, regardless of prior familiarity with the circular economy.

BSI: “Developing knowledge solutions that address global challenges”

Commenting on the announcement of BS 8001, David Fatscher, Head of Sustainability at BSI, said: “BS 8001 is a world first. Resource productivity is at the heart of the government’s new Industrial Strategy and demonstrates how standards can be considered business improvement tools which help organisations unlock the untapped potential of sustainable growth. BS 8001 was developed to enable organisations to take practical actions to realise the economic and social benefits of the circular economy.”

The BSI’s new standard signals a reiteration of the commitment of policymakers to embed sustainability into business practice, with BS 8001 following hot on the heels of the publication of the world’s first international sustainable procurement guidelines, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)’s ISO 20400 ‘Sustainable procurement – Guidance’.

The new standard is available at a special price and a free-to download short executive briefing document has also been produced which is aimed at senior level decision makers. See BSi's Circular Economy web page for more details.

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