NEWSLETTER by Alessia Falsarone. The author acknowledges the team at The University of Chicago Circular Economy and Sustainable Business Management Program and all participants of the innovation knowledge hub for their insights and collaboration.
As we approach our well-deserved summer break, we commend the ISO – International Organization for Standardization for gaining international support at their recent ballot on the circularity standards (ISO 59000 series). By standardizing terminology, outlining business model features, and assessing the value of circularity, we are making positive strides towards a circular economy. Additionally, the growing market for digital solutions is enabling circular use cases to be integrated into the decarbonization plans of both private and public sectors. As we enjoy our summer break, let’s take this opportunity to relax and recharge, knowing that progress, no matter how slow, is still progress.
| The Science of Impact
Right before the start of the summer break, this past week we welcomed the first international standardization involving the Circular Economy with the approval of the ISO/TC 323 circularity standards, following international ballot:
- ISO 59 004 – Terminology, Principles and Guidance for Implementation
- ISO 59 010 – Guidance on Business Models and Value Networks
- ISO 59 020 – Measuring and Assessing Circularity
If you have been involved in the work of the ISO – International Organization for Standardization and other international standards organizations, you will agree that this is a gigantic step ahead for the operationalization of the circularity-focused roadmaps of industrial players as well as governments. The working groups have been working since 2019 under the leadership of chairwoman Catherine Chevauché and committee manager Mélissa De Medeiros, with the AFNOR Group(Association Française de Normalization) hosting the Secretariat for this important work.
The release of the ISO 59000 series is meant to harmonize the understanding of the circular economy while also providing support to its implementation and measurement.
Next steps? The open comment period and final publication expected at the beginning of 2024.
| Circularity Roadmaps Explained
Increasingly, demand-driven and operational factors are driving faster adoption of digital solutions by companies seeking to incorporate circularity into their business models. According to market research firm Verdantix, the market size for circular economy digital solutions is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27% starting 2021 and is expected to exceed US$1.7 billion by 2027. In addition, in their recent Tech Roadmap, Verdantix assesses a number of digital circular economy solutions based on their maturity level, business value, and rate of innovation. The main takeaway from the study is the shift from passive environmental, social, and governance and sustainability strategies that focus on compliance to proactive initiatives that recognize circularity as a competitive advantage. Notably, reducing waste and lowering greenhouse gas emissions emerge as key use cases for the circular economy, albeit with industry-specific variations.
| Investing in the Circular Economy
Circularity is becoming increasingly prevalent in mainstream climate and sustainable infrastructure funds. Spanish banking giant BBVA recently announced its intention to invest in Suma Capital‘s 3rd Sustainable Investment Fund, which focuses on the energy transition, the circular economy, and specifically waste and water cycle management for energy production, such as biogas and biomethane.
Classified as an Article 9 Fund under the EU SFDR Regulation, Suma Capital’s Climate Impact Fund III FCRE already has commitments totaling €300 million. Suma Capital expects investments in Spain to represent 50 to 70 percent of the total commitments, with the remainder coming from Europe, particularly France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K. In the first six months of 2023, Suma completed four operations in Spain related to the development of new waste treatment infrastructure, renewable heat networks, and biogas plants. Notably, Suma, in partnership with Enagás, owns the UNUE plant, which is already supplying biomethane to the natural gas network.
Based in Barcelona, Suma Capital is an established European player in the small to mid-sized enterprises segment, offering growth and venture capital. Its infrastructure division has been investing in capital projects to support the energy transition and circular economy for a decade.
Reflection Point: To enhance its strategic competence and investment prowess, one area where the team could improve is by adding more diverse talent to its investment leadership bench. The world of sustainable investing is home to numerous accomplished female executives.
| You don’t want to miss this summer
From Brussels, to The Hague, and Athens, this summer offers new opportunities to connect with fellow circularity practitioners both in person and in hybrid mode.
Discover, grow and leave your mark!
〉July 27th: Environmental Footprint and SMEs (Webinar*). Hosted by the European Commission, this virtual session will provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of how to assess, report and achieve circularity throughout product and organizational life cycle. Speakers will leverage the PEF (product) and OEF (organizational) environmental footprint methods by taking into account supply chain activities from extraction of raw materials, through production and use, to final waste management. Registration link is available here.
Note (*): the webinar will be held in English with interpreting into Polish and Romanian.
〉August 20th – 27th: IUPAC 2023: Connecting Chemical Worlds (The Hague, Netherlands). The Royal Netherlands Chemical Society (KNCV Sectie Organische Chemie) and the NWO (Dutch Research Council), are pleased to extend an invitation to chemists from both academia and industry, from all corners of the world, to join them at the biannual world conference, themed ‘Connecting Chemical Worlds’. Circular economy topics include the prospects of CO2 capture and activation for a circular chemical industry, and research advances in circular plastics design.
〉August 28th – September 2nd: International Conference on Raw Materials and the Circular Economy (Athens, Greece). The 2nd annual conference will bring together actors in the field of raw materials and circular economy for a comprehensive exchange of knowledge. Some of the topics covered include: the EU industrial strategy on the circular economy and resource efficiency; securing critical and strategic raw materials supply; metallurgical sector and the green digital transition (focus on the situation experienced by the Greek mining sector).
Off to a restful, re-energizing summer!
Alessia Falsarone is executive in residence, practitioner faculty at the University of Chicago, where she leads the Circular Economy and Sustainable Business program. The article is based on the author’s newsletter A Week of Circularity from the innovation knowledge hub.
| All opinions expressed are those of the author and/or quoted sources. investESG.eu is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.