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THE BACK PAGE by Technical Editor Jonathan Newell



efined by the British Standards Institution (BSI) as a “concept which challenges organisations to re-think how their resources aremanaged to create financial, environmental and social benefits”, the

circular economy is about thinking onmore environmental terms and reaping the rewards from the prudent use of the resources available. Creating a standard that can be referred to when

adopting this approach was a challenging task, since adopting a circular economy is the corporate equivalent of an individualmaking a particular lifestyle choice. There aremany options that can be taken and judgements on what’s right and wrong can at times be somewhat nebulous. Recognising this, the new standard is not

prescriptive but rather a guide, as reflected in its title “BS8001:2017: Framework for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organisations – guide”. According to the standards organisation, BS8001

was developed tomeetmutually beneficial goals by providing guiding principles for organisations and individuals to consider and implementmore sustainable practices. Split into two parts, the standard examines the

principles of a circular economy: why it is important and why organisations should consider moving towards amore circular and sustainable mode of operation by keeping products, components andmaterials at their highest utility and value at all times and by being restorative and regenerative by design. The second part sets out how these principles can

be implemented within an organisational context. This section forms the bulk of the standard and offers guiding principles, a flexible implementation framework and supporting guidance. The circular economy principles are set out by the

BSI in a collection of abstract nouns: Systems Thinking, Innovation, Stewardship, Collaboration, Value Optimisation and Transparency. But these are the global overriding principles. As the standard delves into the detail, the way in which a circular economy operates becomesmuch clearer. The standard defines each term, has a glossary and is well illustrated with helpful schematics. The second part of the standard goes into the

flexible implementation of a circular economy and this takes amore pragmatic approach, which companies can follow to improve their chances of a successful implementation. Comprising eight stages fromproject scoping through to delivery and

56 /// Environmental Engineering /// October 2017

monitoring, the guidance is not so far removed fromthe stepsmost companies would take to manage any successful project, including the examination of feasibility and themaking of a business case to support the project. This practical approach to the standard is where

the value lies. After initially helping to define the circular economy and spark ideas for how it can be used in an organisation, the standard gives clear guidance on how it can then be delivered. BS8001:2017 isn’t just for large organisations. It

can be implemented at any level within any size of company. Like other general standards, such as QualityManagement or SecurityManagement, the document is long and it will require a “champion” within the company to take control of it, examine its contents in depth and oversee its implementation. The move to a circular economy is a significant

opportunity for businesses and organisations of all sizes. According to BSI, by contributing to a resource efficient and low-carbon economy, costs and supply chain risks are reduced. Further benefits for businesses which choose to implement BS8001 include improved resilience, new revenue streams, and enhanced corporate sustainability credentials. According to David Fatscher, head of

sustainability at the BSI, BS8001 was developed to enable organisations to take practical actions to realise the economic and social benefits of the circular economy. “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,” he concluded. EE

 Circular economy yields major organisational benefits

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