National product & project database building environment
Circular & Environmental 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 complete 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
  • Circulair Bouwen ’23 standard (Circular Construction ’23 standard)

The following aspects are taken into account in the CF:

  • Input side: use of recycled, biological and reclaimed materials
  • Output side: effective recycling/reclaiming and the possibility of composting biological material.

The following aspects are not included in the calculation of the CF, but 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. If no scarce materials are used, the score is adjusted accordingly.
  • Product lifespan is mentioned on the Sustainable Footprint Card but is not included in the CF calculation.
  • Separability of product parts (this KPI is measured at an organizational level and can be included in the Design sub-theme)
  • Business model is measured at 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).

Environmental Impact

If the impact of energy and other environmental emissions is also to be considered, then the EF must be determined. This EF method is based on life cycle assessment (LCA). The EF is based on the:

  • ISO 14040/44
  • ISO 14025
  • European PEF