Using metrics and digital identities in a circular economy

21 February 2020

Using metrics and digital identities in a circular economy

According to the World Economic Forum, only 8.6% of the global economy is circular at present (down from 9.1% two years ago), however:

'As policy-makers worldwide respond to a rising tide of climate activism and extreme weather events, the concept of the circular economy has become a key lever in the climate action tool kit.' [The world needs a circular economy. Help us make it happen]

PACE (The Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy) emphasise the need to develop a common set of metrics to track progress in this area, supporting the Circularity Gap in the process of creating a more accurate measure.

This line of thought is echoed by speakers at the GreenBiz 20 Conference who suggest that "every physical item in the future will have a digital identity... and that physical product in itself, because it has a digital identity, will be able to provide information throughout its journey, from the start all the way through to its use at the consumer level, and ultimately to its disposal or reuse in the future."

Any data collected on the life cycle of an object allows progress to be tracked.

This could also apply to the packaging, not just the item inside it. We have experienced instances where our boxes were reused successfully multiple times, but discovering this was a coincidence - if we could digitally track the lifecycle of a cardboard box we'd be able to more accurately demonstrate the environmental benefits of our cardboard box reuse scheme. For now though, manufacturers across the UK are discovering this for themselves as they scrutinise their supply chains and begin to understand the waste involved in baling and scrapping boxes for recycling. The circularity of reuse simply makes a lot more sense.