GECA News and Events
  • ISO Launches Comprehensive Standards for a Circular Economy

    27 May 2024 11:21 am

    In a groundbreaking development, on 22 May, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) released three new international standards for a circular economy! The new standards provide a complete toolkit for achieving a circular economy, covering everything from principles to measurement.

    ISO (from the Greek isos, meaning equal) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards, including ISO 14024, which informs GECA’s global best practices in ecolabelling. It is a network of national standards bodies in 171 countries, with a central secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO standards are voluntary, although countries may decide to adopt standards as regulations or refer to them in legislation.

    This new family of ISO 59000 family standards includes:

    ISO 59004:2024 Circular economy — Vocabulary, principles and guidance for implementation.

    ISO 59010:2024 Circular economy — Guidance on the transition of business models and value networks.

    ISO 59020:2024 Circular economy — Measuring and assessing circularity performance.

    “As the world continues to understand that circularity is an essential part of preserving our future, it’s so important and useful to see ISO put internationally recognised procedures in place to measure growth and performance in this space,” says GECA CEO Josh Begbie.

    At GECA, we know that our lifecycle ecolabel and other verification services are essential pieces of the circular economy puzzle. However, to create significant positive change at scale, we need collaborative action and unique inputs from all levels of government, business, and not-for-profits.

    Working together from a shared understanding developed using science-based and SDG-aligned methodologies compiled by circular economy experts in 100 countries is a significant catalyst for real-world impact!

    According to ISO, “International Standards help companies ensure that their products align with principles like durability, reusability, upgradability, or repairability. They foster consumer trust in shared, recycled, repaired or upcycled goods and components as well as relevant services, and enable collaboration between economic partners.”

    ISO 59004, which includes the first international definition of a circular economy, is based on six principles:

    ISO 59010 analyses current business models and value networks through the circular economy principles and provides actions for transitioning to circular business models. Importantly, this standard offers detailed, business-specific strategies and measures for organisations to apply these principles to their value-creation models and networks.

    While the previous two standards provide guidance on circular economy principles and implementation strategies, ISO 59020 focuses wholly on measuring and assessing circularity performance, providing detailed methodologies for data collection and indicator selection. Critically, through this standard, ISO aims to standardise the process by which organisations collect and calculate data using mandatory and optional circularity indicators, ensuring consistent and verifiable results.

    To complement these new standards, ISO is also developing two additional guidance documents:

    ISO 59040 – Product circularity data sheet and

    ISO 59014 – Sustainability and traceability of secondary materials recovery.

    At GECA, we’re passionate about continuous improvement—not just for others but for ourselves. The future of our lifecycle ecolabel standards will include embracing the best practice circularity benchmarks within the new ISO standards as we continue to bolster the harmonisation of circular economy criteria for products and services.

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