Assessing the environmental impact of new Circular business models

Nancy Bocken, Karen Miller, Steve Evans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Circular business models are increasingly viewed as a key driver for business
competitiveness and sustainability. Yet it is unclear what the positive (or negative)
environmental impact of such new business models might be. Existing methods such as Life Cycle Assessment and Mass Flow Analysis, typically more suited for product-level and material-level environmental assessment respectively, may be modified to assess the impact of new circular business models. However, these might be too time and resource-intensive to effectively guide decision-making. Building on earlier work on circular design and business models, the performance economy and life cycle and systems thinking, this work proposes a list of guiding principles to start assessing the impact of new circular business models. The guiding principles are organised according to the following high-level strategies: Slowing effects; Closing effects; Life cycle effects, and Systems effects. Slowing effects are linked to long lasting products and extending product life as part of the new business model. Closing effects relate to the potential for recycling, or product life post-consumer use, as a result of the circular business model
innovation. Life cycle effects are the effects not yet captured within these slowing and closing effects, which arise across the product life cycle from raw material sourcing up until production, transport, use and disposal of products. Finally, Systems effects are the wider impacts of circular business model innovation. For each high-level strategy key questions were formulated to assess the environmental impact reduction of the new circular business model.
It was found that the strategies and guiding principles help stimulate debate on the environmental direction of new circular business models. This work has provided insights to guide a potential direction for assessing the environmental impact of new circular business models, and added to the sparse body of literature in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe proceedings of the First International Conference on “New Business Models”
Subtitle of host publicationExploring a changing view on organizing value creation
EditorsJan Jonker, Niels R. Faber
PublisherToulouse Business School
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventNew Business Models: Exploring a changing view on organizing value creation, The First International Conference , - Toulouse, France
Duration: 16 Jun 201617 Jun 2016


ConferenceNew Business Models


  • Circularity assessment
  • circular business
  • sustainability assessment
  • sustainable business
  • circular design
  • streamlined LCA


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