As a responsible business, you understand the need to play your part in tackling global challenges. A clear Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy must take into account sustainability and the enormous cost of waste, pollution, and carbon emissions.

Disposable consumerism is a thing of the past.



You know that by collaborating with partners, suppliers and customers, you can fulfil your corporate responsibility. Together you can build a better system that works for your organisation, the environment and society as a whole.

Whether you’re a multinational or an SME, we will help you bring the circular economy to life in your organisation. Here, we’ll explain:

  1. What is the circular economy?
  2. What is the purpose of a circular economy?
  3. Circular economy and sustainability
  4. What can my business do to be more sustainable?
  5. What is a circular economy business model?
  6. What is the EU Circular Economy Action Plan?
  7. What is the digital circular economy?
  8. How should a circular economy plan fit with our ESG strategy?
  9. Barriers to the circular economy
  10. So, what’s your circular economy action plan?

Is your organisation ready to make the circular economy work?

At its most basic the EFQM Circular Economy Lens is a free self-help guide to describe where and how you can do better. But as you dig deeper, it can become your entire circular economy roadmap for improvement.

What is the circular economy?

The circular economy replaces the take, make, use and throw away approach of the traditional, linear economy.

Outdated models of production are simply unsustainable. Today, organisations need to adopt a regenerative approach.

What is the purpose of a circular economy?

The traditional, linear economy has fuelled our progress for decades. But the world has finite resources. And we’re paying the price for that today with global challenges like climate change, loss of biodiversity, waste and pollution.

Global leaders are waking up to the need for a different approach: one that makes better use of the finite resources at our disposal. We’ve updated our globally recognised management model so your business can contribute to a sustainable future, today.


The three core principles of the circular economy are: to design out waste and pollution; to keep products and materials in use for as long as possible; to regenerate natural systems.

Sustainable business requires closing the loop in our use of raw materials and energy.

In the ideal circular economy, there’s no such thing as waste. The ultimate goal is for economic growth to be independent of environmental impact. It encourages the use of renewable energy and materials, and can be accelerated by digital innovation.

Circular economy and sustainability

As the world reduces its dependency on landfill, businesses will find new opportunities for profit and growth. Associated lower input costs and opening up of new markets or niches has the power to boost GDP, to the benefit of all.

With more resources saved, the world can enjoy the economic benefits of the circular economy. And by concentrating on reusing, recycling and regeneration of the natural environment, we have the power to create a truly sustainable economy.

What can my business do to be more sustainable?

We developed the Circular Economy Lens to help you do sustainable business better. We built this practical tool with our Finnish partner Laatukeskus to laser focus on your progress towards adopting the circular economy principles.

The Lens provides a true baseline of performance, so you can track and measure success. Now you can easily identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. Rather than a broad overview, the Lens shows how sustainability is embedded in your culture and strategy.

How do you measure up against the seven criteria framed by the EFQM Model? Show all your stakeholders that your organisation understands the ‘why, how and what’ of the circular economy.)
Are you ready to join the circular economy?

What is a circular economy business model?

Circular economy business models help reduce the environmental footprint of your operation. They are designed to extract the most value from scarce raw materials and products by keeping them in use for as long as possible.

Different circular economy business models impact specific parts of the value chain—the full range of activities to create a product or service. Used wisely they can generate growth, sustainability and new revenue while transforming relationships with customers.

Globally more than 100 billion tons of raw materials are made into products each year—less than 10% of that is recycled back. Circular economy business models help to cut both waste and extraction of virgin resources.

There are five widely known business models based on Circular Economy principles:


By dematerialisation and resource productivity an organisation can offer benefits without selling product ownership. With a service, the customer pays for the benefits of a product, not its ownership.


Extending and ensuring a product ́s longevity and durability by repairing, remanufacturing, reselling and upgrading. Utilising technology in optimisation is an example of resource wisdom


An organisation can offer clean alternatives for toxic, polluting and non-recyclable products by favouring renewable, recyclable and biodegradable materials. It require designing products that are modular and can be disassembled, reused and upgraded, returning biological resources back into nature.


Creating distributing and product sharing platforms for access-based models (renting and leasing). Distribution platforms can be established for trade, e.g. renting, borrowing or exchanging goods between users.


By recycling, reusing and recovering resources from materials, by-products and waste, an organisation can reduce its raw material costs, discover new products and revenue models and strengthen its self-sufficiency.

What is the EU Circular Economy Action Plan?

In 2020, as part of the EU’s €1 trillion Green Deal, the European Commission adopted the new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP). It sets out new rules and guidance to cut pressure on natural resources while enabling sustainable growth and green jobs.

By moving to a circular economy, the bloc hopes to hit its target of climate neutrality and stop loss of biodiversity, by the year 2050.

What is the digital circular economy?

Digital technology can be an essential driver for the circular economy. It helps optimise use of resources in complex production processes. Artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and machine learning can put your strategies and opportunities into sharp focus.

Meanwhile, cloud computing, big data and blockchain innovations help businesses break internal silos and two-way-power communication, while retaining accountability. There’s a clear and positive correlation between digital and circular economy innovation.

How should a circular economy plan fit with our ESG strategy?

ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. Sustainability within a business model is increasingly important. Investors are looking at ESG metrics more than ever before. There is a global spotlight on sustainability and waste reduction, particularly in light of COP26 discussions.

Developing a circular economy plan supports any organisation’s sustainability objectives, which in turn demonstrate real commitment to their ESG strategy.

EFQM has also produced a Sustainable Development Goals Lens to help organisations deliver against the UN’s SDGs as part of their ESG strategy

Barriers to the circular economy

Barriers to enjoying the full benefits of the circular economy remain. These include quality issues with some recycled materials, poor waste-management infrastructure and high initial investment costs.

Smart government policies, innovative partnerships and new strategies are key to overcoming these barriers.

EFQM is here to help your organisation become a circular economy pioneer.

So, what’s your circular economy action plan?

Now you’ve bought into the need for your business to waste less stuff, what’s next?

Our Circular Economy Lens lets your organisation baseline its performance, identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. Developing a circular economy action plan can be a central part of your Environmental, Social and Governance strategy.

It will help you generate the necessary impetus to make further progress. Our Lens has all you need whatever the size of your organisation or whether it is public, private or third sector.

The Lens lets you align your circular economy strategy with overall business objectives; build a collaborative culture with internal and external stakeholders; track the processes and resources you need for success.

What are you waiting for?

Looking for a live demo?

Why you and your organisation should use the AssessBase as your key management tool or the KnowledgeBase as your key resources hub? Contact us to arrange a live demo or if you have any questions.


Vinciane Beauduin

Vinciane Beauduin