The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has formed a new technical committee, with the aim of promoting a global vision on the circular economy.

ISO/TC 323, Circular economy, comprises experts from 65 countries to explore an economic model where waste is reused or regenerated rather than being thrown away.

Catherine Chevauche, committee chair, says disparate efforts on the circular economy by countries and organisations around the world need to be brought together.

“In order to have a new economic model, businesses need a new business model – what has been lacking is a truly global vision of what a circular economy really is and a model that any organisation can adopt,” she said.

The committee’s goal is to produce a set of internationally-agreed principles; terminology; a framework of what a circular economy entails; and a management system standard. It will also develop alternative business models, as well as measurement and assessment methods for circularity. It aims to cover aspects including public procurement; production and distribution; and end of life, as well as changing society’s behaviours.

Chevauche said countries and organisations are recognising the urgency of a circular economy, and the ISO committee was born from national-level efforts by French member Afnor.

“The members of the committee agree that there is a need to act now to develop standards in this area as quickly as possible.

“This is particularly true in developing countries, who have tended to bear the brunt of inequalities of wealth and waste in the developed world,” she said.

The World Economic Forum has said that the circular economy represents a trillion-dollar opportunity.

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