The Guidance Tool is a 10-step process framework to implement Circular Economy and Sustainability principles in the business model. As such the framework also provides the basic structure for the modular course.
It builds on Circular Economy Readiness levels which were defined by the CircularStart consortium on the basis of the well established Technology and Market Readiness Levels (TRL, MRL). Similar to the TRLs which estimate the maturity of technologies and MRLs which describe the process for entering the market, the CERLs provide a typical process from generic (e.g. identifying a relevant circularity strategy) to specific (e.g. implementing a circularity communication strategy). Ideally the CERLs are followed in parallel to the MRLs and TRLs.
For example, if your current business idea qualifies as TRL 4, having a small scale prototype, the corresponding CERL would encourage you to analyse in parallel the circularity of your value chain. To do so, the previous the CERLs from 0 (Understand Circularity) to 3 (Define a Circular Value Proposition) provide the necessary foundation.
|Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)||Market Readiness Levels (MRLs)||Circular Economy Readiness Levels (CERLs)|
|1||Basic Research||Basic Research||Relate to circularity
|2||Technology Formulation||Needs Formulation||Analyse existing circular solutions
|3||Needs Validation||Needs Validation||Define a Circular Value Proposition
|4||Small Scale Prototype||Small Scale Stakeholder Campaign||Analyse the circularity of your value chain
|5||Large Scale Prototype||Large Scale Early Adopter Campaign||Specify the circular value chain
|6||Prototype System||Proof of Traction||Analyse the Circularity Performance
|7||Demonstration System||Proof of Satisfaction ||Improve and Validate the Circularity Performance
|8||First of a kind commercial system||Proof of Scalability ||Communicate Circularity
|9||Full commercial application||Proof of Stability||Maintain Circularity|
The contents of the CircularStart online course cover all 10 steps. For this purpose the CERLs are grouped into 4 modules: Ideation, Integration, Validation and Implementation. The following table provides guiding questions which are treated in the referenced sections of the course. By browsing through the questions you can see which contents of the learning program are most relevant for you at your current development stage. However in all cases we encourage you to go through the learning program from the beginning, as the contents are designed in a progressive manner.
The table also highlights certain business model elements (as defined in the commonly known Business Model Canvas, BMC) which particularly come into focus in the related course modules. The Ideation phase is all about the Value proposition and the Customer segments. This is followed by the Integration phase, mostly concerned with the left side of the BMC, defining the activities, resources and partners needed to realize a circular business model. The Validation phase is mostly concerned with the environmental costs and benefits of the business model. At this stage a certain clarity about the involved resources must be given to ensure a satisfactory analysis. The Implementation stage is all about the sustainability communication strategies, and therefore in the framework of the BMC mostly relates to channels and customer relationships.
|CERL||Guiding Questions||Related Units||BMC focus ||Course Module|
|0||Understand circularity||Which Sustainable Development Goals exist and which are important to us?|
What is a Circular Economy and why do we need it?
What are the drivers and enablers of a Circular Economy?
go to the course
|1||Relate to circularity||How could the Circular Economy relate to my idea?
What are the most important SDGs in relation to my idea?
What environmental and social issues can be affected by our future business?
What products / services /systems are most important to be made circular?
|2||Analyse existing circular solutions||Which business strategies of circularity exist? |
What can I learn from other businesses? How do they achieve circularity?
What specific objectives can I define to integrate circularity?
|Unit 4 |
|3||Define a Circular Value Proposition||What value is created for other stakeholders than our customers? |
How do customers use our product / service? What happens at the end of life? Do they need to own the product?
|4||Analyse the circularity of your value chain||Which Partners do we need in our value chain to enable a circular BM? |
What natural, technological resources are used along the lifecycle and how can they be used more sustainably?
Can you provide a service to improve the circularity of your product or service?
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|5||Specify the circular value chain ||How can the design of the product / service be optimised to enable circularity?|
How can we align our activities with the circular value proposition?
|6||Analyse the Circularity Performance||What ecological or social costs is our business causing and how can these be mitigated?|
What ecological or social benefits is our business model generating?
|Cost Structure |
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|7||Improve and Validate the Circularity Performance||How can we measure success other than in financial profits (employee happiness, environmental performance, resource independence,..)?||Unit 3|
|8||Communicate Circularity||How can our sustainability efforts be communicated to our customers and other stakeholders?||Unit 1|
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|9||Maintain Circularity||How can we maintain and monitor the circularity efforts over time? |
How can we continually improve the sustainability and circularity of our business model?