TU.2.E || Tools, Metrics and Labels for a Circular Economy

Schumacher, Laura; Valencia Martinez, Elsa

Companies show an increasing interest in going from ‘linear’ to ‘circular’ models to decouple economic growth from consumption of finite resources. This is done through reducing, reusing, and recycling. A way to measure the circularity of a product, is the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015). This indicator takes multiple product characteristics into account, such as the recycled content in the product and a utility factor that accounts for the duration and intensity of the product’s use. From this information, the MCI generates a score between 0 and 1. The closer to 1, the more circular the product is. However, a product with a higher MCI is not always more environmental friendly. The MCI only focuses on the material use and does not take into account the water, electricity and transport needed in the life cycle of the product. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) does take these into account and is therefore complementary to MCI. Combining LCA and MCI provides a holistic overview of the environmental impact of the product throughout the life cycle, taking into account material circularity and additional environmental flows. To use this holistic overview to compare different products, we have incorporated MCI in our online LCA tool. With this tool, people can explore the environmental impact of different products or different versions of a product. Incorporating MCI in this tool helps to optimize both the material circularity of the product and the environmental impact in other areas such as global warming and water use. We will present a case study on packaging to show how MCI and LCA can be combined in a holistic approach.