Every economic activity is measurable in order to assess precisely the results obtained through a budget (its efficiency or inefficiency). Therefore all circular “economy” actions must necessarily be measurable.
It is necessary to define precise measurability references for the circular economy, otherwise it would be very difficult (if not impossible) to obtain evidences in terms of results from the actions pursued or to be pursued and consequently difficult to evaluate the benefits in terms of economy and pro-tection of resources.
“Economy” determines the functioning of market and therefore it is essen-tial referring the same rules to “circular economy”. Whether it is a country, a region, a city, a product or a service, a material, water or energy resource, economy is able to quantify its value through the use of international units of measurement.
Measuring circularity is essential to give concrete and univocal references to the actions pursued or to be pursued: it is essential to obtain a feedback clearly demonstrating the results achieved in the management of resources in terms of economic and environmental sustainability.
This approach is relatively simple when we consider the quantity of materials used or the energy consumption, while it is more complex when we have to assess the circularity of requirements such as the extension of the useful life of a product or the sharing activities.
There are examples of more or less articulated methods for measuring circularity at national and international level and the common element common of all these methods is the drafting of an input-output balance. (Enel, Alla scoperta dell’Economia circolare. Indicatori di performances – 2017
There are mainly five key elements of the circular economy, which can be declined through some indicators
For an easy applicability, especially for small and medium enterprises, it is appropriate that the final result is identified with a single circularity index that in this way can be easily compared to the economic aspects. This index should take in account:
– the circularity of the flow of resources used, which in its turn must take into account all the components in terms of materials and energy compared to the budget,
– input (materials and energy if from renewable sources; recycled materials, permanent recycling, reuse, etc.)
– output (materials intended for recycling, reuse or landfill).
– the circularity of the use of a product or product-service, in a context of extension of its useful life, number of users of the same product, sharing models. In addition to considering the flows of resources used (input – output), it is appropriate to evaluate functional aspects such as, energy efficiency, water consumption, and environmental impact.
In this way it is possible to obtain a circular balance related to a product, a service, an organization or territory clearly showing costs and benefits for the management of resources. The results are useful to achieve more transparency for the market and to avoid misleading information that does not clearly express what has really been done: the goal is rewarding the most virtuous actions unmasking those of mere “green washing”.