Measuring Circular Economy Policies: Frameworks and Metrics

The recording of the session, as well as the presentations and resources shared by the speakers, are available at this link.

“Measuring Circular Economy Policies: Frameworks and Metrics,” the first webinar in the series “Circularity Unleashed for a Sustainable Viet Nam,” which occurred on Wednesday 07 June 2023, attracted participation of a little beyond 71 experts and CE practitioners from Viet Nam, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Singapore, and Nigeria. In the context of a National Action Plan on Circular Economy ( NAP CE) being formulated for December 2023, the webinar provided an overview of international experiences in setting an Monitoring & Evaluation framework and presented and discussed the proposed indicators for the NAP on CE tailored for Viet Nam.

Mr. Arpit Bhutani, COO of the Circular Innovation Lab, commenced the webinar by underscoring the significance of a CE roadmap/National Action Plan (NAP) as a strategic tool and emphasizing its role in facilitating a comprehensive and long-term transition towards CE. To effectively monitor performance and evaluate the impact of CE policies, the integration of CE metrics within the NAP is essential. Mr. Bhutani deduced a general framework after clustering all metrics, highlighting five key areas: clean energy, waste management, environmental preservation, biological cascading, and policymaking for systemic change. He also emphasised the iterative nature of this framework, where continuous revision of metrics is necessary. During his presentation, Mr. Bhutani provided an overview of various indicators and how each country prioritises sectors, industries, types of waste, and the breadth and depth of metrics. Notably, he noted the prevailing emphasis on waste streams and stressed the need for national roadmaps to shift focus upstream, improving product design to support downstream circular processes. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of indicators related to green jobs and green procurement, which can facilitate a broader transition to CE. However, he observed limited emphasis on these areas in current roadmaps.

Mr. Carlo Lupi, a expert consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Viet Nam, focused on proposing a set of indicators for Viet Nam’s Circular Economy National Action Plan. He began by explaining the underlying rationale of his approach, which aimed to approach “perfect circularity” through the utilisation of renewable energy and materials. He emphasised that a robust measurement framework should be based on the country’s definition of CE, as outlined in the Law on Environmental Protection. The proposed indicators spanned across four stages of the materials lifecycle: design, production, consumption, and service activities and were guided by four principles: reducing raw material consumption, extending product life, minimizing waste generation, and minimizing adverse environmental impacts. To illustrate his approach, Mr. Lupi provided calculations for exemplary indicators. These included the ratio of domestic electric energy consumption derived from renewable sources, the consumption of non-renewable materials and minerals, the utilization of renewable water resources, and the generation and recycling of solid waste. Mr. Lupi also highlighted the critical issue of water scarcity in Viet Nam, emphasizing that the country is classified as “water-stressed” since more than 60 percent of water resources in Viet Nam come from basins located in neighboring countries, making water circularity a crucial indicator that needs to be monitored in the CE NAP. By addressing water circularity, Viet Nam can proactively prevent future water shortages and ensure sustainable water resource management.

Mr. Hideki Wada, the principal consultant of Viet Nam Waste Planning, shared insights and proposed a policy tool based on Japanese experience. He began by introducing Japan’s legal system, which focuses on the material cycle and implements recycling acts at the individual product level. This approach has led to the establishment of a comprehensive statistical data system in Japan to monitor material flow. The system relies on three fundamental indicators: resource productivity, recycling rate, and landfill waste. Mr. Wada further discussed an additional analysis that monitors the circularity of society through product flows. Shifting the focus to Viet Nam’s situation, he highlighted the availability of data for 103 products published by the General Statistical Office (GSO). Drawing from his modeling, he pointed out that several products in Viet Nam still have substantial potential for improvement in terms of CE practices and provided detailed action points for enhancing the material flow towards CE for each specific product. Lastly, Mr. Wada emphasized that these indicators should serve as valuable tools for policymakers, as They enable an understanding of the current and future situations, identify the necessary action steps for promoting CE, measure policy progress, and facilitate flexible adaptation of targets.

After the presentations, participants discussed the international status quo and trends on CE NAP, advantages and disadvantages of methodologies, namely material flow analysis citing Japan as a case study; and comprehensive indicators that extend beyond materials, encompassing energy and water resources as well as the calculations and data sources of each indicator

About the webinar series:

We are organizing a webinar series called “Circularity Unleashed for a Sustainable Viet Nam” to enhance dialogue, generate know-how, and mobilize collective action towards the CE transition, by engaging and building the capacity of all stakeholders, creating synergies and integrating financial and technical resources. You can refer to further information about the webinar series with registration link here