More sustainable business practices through circular economy: To keep materials and natural resources in the economic cycle, ideally without consuming new ones – fully in keeping with the European Green Deal and the Federal Climate Change Act 2021. Such an approach needs standards and specifications to succeed. That is the starting point for the Standardization Roadmap Circular Economy, published today by the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE (DKE), and the Association of German Engineers (VDI). The Roadmap describes the circular economy challenges that businesses face and presents the standards and specifications needed to address them. It was developed by more than 550 experts from industry, academia, the public sector and civil society. The Federal Environment Ministry (BMUV) supported the project.
State Secretary Christiane Rohleder commented: "We will only be able to overcome the global crises – the climate emergency, biodiversity loss and environmental pollution – if we implement real circular economy. Standards and specifications are instrumental for the whole of trade and industry to ensure the success of the urgently needed transformation to circular economy. Without standards and specifications, neither consumers nor companies can determine the quality of materials, products or processes, but trust in a market can only be gained if it offers recognisably good quality. This is why standards are important – for instance to facilitate the emergence of a robust market for recycled materials. The German government wants to advance standardisation for genuine circular economy in the EU and work in dialogue with manufacturers to set out requirements for products throughout Europe. The Standardization Roadmap Circular Economy lays important groundwork for this."
Christoph Winterhalter, CEO of DIN, stated: "Together we can achieve the transformation to circular economy. Standards and specifications are essential for this. They define interfaces and ensure clear communication between the different actors in the cycle. The Standardization Roadmap Circular Economy pinpoints where action is needed and highlights the areas where standards and specifications can provide targeted support for the transformation to circular economy."
DKE Managing Director Michael Teigeler commented: "The needs identified in the Roadmap are the starting point for developing corresponding standards and specifications in national, European and international bodies. Together, we can draw up the rules of play for circular economy. All interested experts are invited to join us."
Dieter Westerkamp, VDI Director and member of the Presidial Board (interim): "DIN, DKE and VDI will cooperate closely to implement the Roadmap and jointly develop uniform solutions. Synchronising legislation and standardisation can accelerate the process considerably. This calls for more intensive dialogue between all those working in standardisation and the German government and European Commission."
The Roadmap comprises seven key topics based on the priority areas of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan: Digitalisation, business models and management; electronics and ICT, batteries, packaging, plastics, textiles and construction and municipalities. The Roadmap gives an overview of the status quo of standardisation in these areas and identifies needs for action for future standards and specifications. These include requirements for refillables systems, standardised reusable packaging, quality requirements for secondary raw materials and the definition of durability for products. The Roadmap further identifies five cross-cutting areas relevant for all the key topics: Sustainability assessment, extension of life, digital product passport (DPP), recyclability and end of waste. The next step now is concrete implementation based on these results. The work is coordinated by the Circular Economy Steering Group of DIN and DKE in the Environmental Protection Coordination Office. Leaders and experts from business associations, civil society associations, academia, research institutions and the public sector are represented in the Steering Group.