There are increasingly more steps being taken towards establishing a common reference and standardizing the implementation of circular economy principles in organizations and business models.

The first draft standards of the 59000 series on circular economy are now available and under voting. These drafts are part of the technical work developed by the ISO/TC323 technical committee, established in 2018.

The aim is to standardize in the field of Circular Economy, creating frameworks, requirements, guidelines, and support tools for the implementation of activities by all involved organizations, in order to maximize their contribution to Sustainable Development. The aspects of Circular Economy already covered by other existing committees are excluded from this committee.

The following are the draft standards:

  • ISO 59004: Circular Economy “Terminology, Principles, and Guidance for Implementation.” It is intended for private or public organizations, acting individually or collectively, regardless of their type or size, and located in any jurisdiction or position within a specific value chain or value network.

  • ISO 59010: Circular Economy “Guidelines for the Transition of Business Models and Value Networks.” It applies to any organization dealing with products or services, regardless of its size, sector, or region.
  • ISO 59020: Circular Economy “Measurement and Evaluation of Circularity.” A framework used to determine the effectiveness of circular actions carried out by public and private organizations. Its purpose is to assist organizations in gathering the necessary information to enable circular economic practices that minimize resource usage and/or enable a circular flow of resources, contributing to sustainable development.

The ISO 59000 series on Circular Economy will consist of a total of seven standards, which can be seen in the following figure.

In Spain, the Technical Standardization Committee (CTN 323) of UNE[12] is responsible for participating in the development of international and European scope standards in the field of Circular Economy, as well as creating national standards. This committee is comprised of more than 163 experts from nearly 90 public and private organizations. Among the future standard projects are several from ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy: ISO/WD 59004, ISO/WD 59010, ISO/WD 59020, and ISO/CD TR 59031.

“Draft” of the structure of ISO 59004 standard: presentation and comments.

Let’s start with section 4, “Organizational Context,” its structure, and content will be similar to the high-level structure of ISO standards:

  • 4.1 Understanding the organization and its context

  • 4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties
  • 4.3 Determining the scope of the circular economy project management system
  • 4.4 Circular economy project management system

In section 4.5, “Purpose of Circular Economy,” specific issues that must be addressed and dealt with in a circular economy project management system will be described.

  • Contribution of circular economy to sustainable development

  • Aspects of circular economy
  • Acquisition and sustainability of supplies
  • Ecodesign
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Functional economy (Servitization)
  • Responsible consumption
  • Product life extension
  • Efficient management of products and materials at the end of their life cycle.

Section 5, “Implementation of a Circular Economy Project Management System,” will include the set of stages that must be followed to implement the management system:

  • 5.1 Diagnosis of the initial situation

  • 5.2 Establishment of an action plan
  • 5.3 Monitoring, reporting, and verification of results
  • 5.4 Performance evaluation and continuous improvement

For section 6, “Leadership,” a content structure similar to the high-level structure of ISO standards (e.g., Clause 5 of ISO 9001) is proposed.

  • 6.1 Leadership and commitment

  • 6.2 Policy
  • 6.3 Roles, responsibilities, and authorities within the organization
  • 6.4 Responsibility for identifying circular economy project issues.

Section 7, “Planning,” will include:

  • 7.1 Identification of risks and opportunities for the circular economy project

  • 7.2 Objectives of the circular economy project and planning to achieve them

Section 8, “Support,” will be similar to section 7 in the common structure of ISO management systems, which refers to the need to “determine and provide the necessary resources for the establishment, implementation, maintenance, and continuous improvement of the management system.”

  • 8.1 Resources

  • 8.2 Competence
  • 8.3 Awareness
  • 8.4 Communication
  • 8.5 Documented Information

In section 9, “Operation,” the following subsections will be included:

  • 9.1 Operational Planning and Control
  • 9.2 Design and Development of Products and Services
  • 9.3 Control of Processes, Products, and Services Provided by External Providers

In section 10, “Performance Evaluation,” the following contents will be included:

  • 10.1 Monitoring, measurement, analysis, and evaluation

  • 10.2 Internal audit
  • 10.3 Management review

Finally, in section 11, “Improvement,” the following will be included:

  • 11.1 Nonconformity and corrective action

  • 11.2 Continual improvement

For more information, please contact: Carmelo Angulo (

Source: Ecocircular