Explanation of Circular Footprint
Circular Footprint

The Circular Footprint (CF) is part of the product certification standard of the GSES System – Sustainable Footprint Standard. Next to the Circular Footprint, the Sustainable Footprint Standard consists of the Environmental Footprint (EF) and the Health Footprint (HF). The three topics (CF, EF, and HF) give a comprehensive picture of the sustainability performance of a product, the production process, and the supply chain.

The CF focuses entirely on the use of materials in a product and its circular performance. The calculation method is based on both material usage (input side) and post-use processing (output side). The calculation in weight does not take into account the specific flow of material. The circular performance of the input and output side result in a circularity score.

With the CF, the Sustainable Footprint Standard of GSES allows for a pragmatic start for calculating and certifying a circularity score for products. Hence, it fills a gap because there is no standard/calculation method for the circularity of products yet. The CF method is very accessible, in principle anyone would be able to use the Excel model of the calculation method provided by GSES or the online calculation tool on the GSES platform (BoM calculator) to calculate the CF score. That is because only the flows of materials are included.

Circular Footprint Standard – CF is based on existing standards:

  • MCI index of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Cradle to Cradle standard
  • Platform Circulair Bouwen (CB) ’23 standard (Circular Construction ’23 standard)
  • Meetmethodiek losmaakbaarheid (method for calculating separation index), Dutch Green Building Counsel (DGBC), nov 2019

The following aspects are taken into account in a quantitative analysis:

  • Input side: use of recycled, biological and reclaimed materials.
  • Output side: effective recycling/reclaiming and the possibility of composting biological material.
  • Separation index: the ability to separate parts or materials after use to make refurbishment, re-use or material mono-streams possible

The following aspects are taken into account in a qualitative analysis:

The following aspects are additional CF-indicators and/or are taken into account at an organizational level by means of the GSES CE pillar or as an informative statement:

  • Use of scarce materials.
  • Product lifespan.
  • Circular business strategy is subject at the organizational level through the CE pillar of the GSES
  • Improvement strategy

Certification of the CF score comes with the obligation to obtain the EF certification within 2 years. This will give an even more complete picture of the sustainability performance. In addition to the EF certification, there is also the obligation to ensure company-wide circularity (CE pillar) within 2 years.

Circular Economy on an organizational level (CE pillar based on BS 8001)

In order to do so, the company must certify circularity management within the GSES System by means of the Circular Economy pillar at an organizational level, which is based on BS 8001. The CE pillar at organizational level includes circular business models, raw material procurement, supply chain transparency with regard to CE. For this pillar, see the GSES handbook (Global Sustainable Enterprise Standard 2.2).

OPEN SOURCE and continuous improvement

The CF is in a standardization phase. It is linked to international developments in the field of measuring circularity and input from all industries and sectors so that the latest insights and findings are taken into account.