TU.3.E || Circular Economy and Circular Society in LCM

Duque Ciceri, Natalia; Rehberger, Max

“There are more than 200 environmental labels in the EU, and more than 450 worldwide” . Many of such eco-labels can be somehow connected to the circularity of products. The most basic metrics can be related to the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by countries under the Paris Agreement. Whether a label or a metric, some stakeholders are pledging their corporations with ambitious goals and making product claims to differentiate themselves through a positive image. While these are needed initiatives, image has limited value if evidence and trust are lacking and data are not transparent and trustworthy. The use of resources in a circular economy is currently only partially addressed by standards/regulation mostly focusing on either recyclability, recycled content or input materials, which in summary still is not leading to an increase in circular material use rate (CMR) for most materials. One example is textile industry with a recycling rate of only one percent . Supporting sustainability standards should contribute to real, verifiable sustainability claims . Once such standards are in place, only a neutral player can provide independent transparency by testing and verification. An industry case study is presented on how data trust can be guaranteed through the product life cycle. Starting from the input with the testing of recyclates for hazardous substances and tracing the recycled content; through the use and EOL phase, verifying durability, repairability and recyclability of products targeting an increased CMR and thus enabling circular business models. The main problem to avoid would be that in some years many major organizations are not truly fulfilling their pledges and the worldwide GHG emissions, for instance, are still on the rise since most of those achievements are either not true or not permanent or double-counted. There are a lot of monetary incentives involved and the danger of fraud is high.