Published here is a compilation of relevant data and statistics from companies that have participated in the Circulytics assessments to date.
1. Overview of Circulytics
Circulytics was originally launched in January 2020, then updated for its second reporting cycle in October of the same year. The second round of submissions was closed in August 2021 for scheduled updates.
In this first section, we will look at the broader characteristics of companies that have taken part in Circulytics since its launch. Here you will find anonymised data from company assessments submitted between January 2020 and August 2021.
1.1 Companies that have signed up
1,265 companies have signed up to Circulytics, of which 60% (756 companies) are headquartered in Europe (Figure 1)
17% (217 companies) have an annual revenue of more than USD 1 billion (Figure 2)
Although the majority of organisations that have signed up have their headquarters in Europe, significant growth from other regions between the two reporting cycles was also observed, particularly in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The number of sign ups from Latin America have more than tripled, from 51 to 155 companies (12% of total sign ups since launch). Asia and Africa more than doubled, from 39 to 97, and 7 to 16 companies, respectively (8% and 1% of total sign ups since launch, respectively). This highlights a growing interest to measure circular economy progress across a wide spectrum of geographical locations. As Circulytics continues to be updated, and the assessment tool provided in different languages, we expect this geographical spread to continue to grow.
In addition, from start-ups to global corporations, companies ranging in size have signed up to complete a Circulytics assessment. The majority of organisations that have signed up (39%) have an annual revenue of less than USD 1 million, alongside 27% with an annual revenue of between USD 1 million and 100 million, and 17% with an annual revenue of more than USD 1 billion. This is an important finding as it highlights that momentum towards a global circular economy transition is increasing across a diverse range of company types and sizes.
HQ region of participating companies
Figure 1. Headquarter location of the companies that have signed up for Circulytics between January 2020 and August 2021. N=1,265
Annual revenue (USD) of participating companies
Figure 2. Annual Revenue in USD of the companies that have signed up for Circulytics between January 2020 and August 2021. N=1,265
1.2 Companies that have completed the assessment
Of the 1,265 companies that signed up before August 2021, 194 companies have completed their Circulytics assessment and received a scorecard. Of those:
72% (139 companies) have their headquarters in Europe (Figure 3)
31% (60 companies) are large with an annual revenue above USD 1B (Figure 4)
The share of large corporations within the completed assessment group is significantly higher than within the sign-ups group outlined above. However, the fact that there are completions from companies across all revenue bands highlights that both large and small companies are realising the potential and opportunities of transitioning to a more circular way of doing business, and consequently committing to evaluate their progress.
HQ region of participating companies with completed assessments
Figure 3. Headquarter location of the companies that have completed the assessment for Circulytics between January 2020 and August 2021. N=194
Annual revenue (USD) of participating companies with completed assessments
Figure 4. Annual Revenue in USD of the companies that have completed the assessment for Circulytics between January 2020 and August 2021. N=194
2. Circulytics 2021 reporting cycle
Circulytics is designed to be completed by companies on an annual basis so they can track their progress. In October 2020, Circulytics was updated in order to provide a more comprehensive assessment and improve the user experience. This section will examine the results obtained only by companies that have completed this reporting cycle of the tool, between October 2020 and August 2021.
2.1 Company scores
The overall score of assessed companies follows roughly a normal distribution, with a spike at the A- score (Figure 5). This gives a good indication that the method, indicator weighting, and scoring have been balanced well. The A- spike can be attributed to service-based companies without any material flows (Figure 6). Data on material flows is the most difficult for companies to report on, due to the complexity of gathering this information from across a company’s supply chain, which is necessary for a complete assessment of circular economy progress. As companies become increasingly familiar with the circular economy and how circular material flows are most relevant to them, we expect this difference between company types to reduce over time.
Score distribution of participating companies with completed assessments
Figure 5. Distribution of scores for companies that have completed the most recent Circulytics assessment between October 2020 and August 2021. N=123. The number on each bar represents the number of companies that obtained that respective overall score.
Impact of service companies on the score distribution
Figure 6. Distribution of scores for companies that have completed the most recent assessment of Circulytics between October 2020 and August 2021, highlighting the distinction between service-based companies without material flows and all other companies. N=123.
2.2 Company scores by theme
The Circulytics company scorecard shows more than just an overall score — it also provides a breakdown by themes. (Read more on Page 4 of our Method Introduction). Circulytics consists of 11 themes, which are grouped into two categories.
The first category to be answered in the survey is the Enablers, which consists of five themes:
Strategy and planning
People and skills
The Enablers category consists of qualitative indicators that are used to assess how well-positioned a company is to transition to a more circular way of doing business in the future. Enablers, such as strategic prioritisation of the circular economy, are almost always precursors to outcomes, such as circular material flows.
The Outcomes is the second category shown in the survey. It has six themes, but only a subset is relevant for any given company depending on its characteristics. The themes are:
Products and materials
Plant, property, and equipment assets
The Outcomes category measures actual circular economy results on a company level, such as material flows, water flows, energy use, service provision and product design, or procurement and decommissioning of plant, property, and equipment assets.
The theme-level scores give companies a more tangible insight into how they are performing in specific areas of their business, in order to highlight success and identify areas for improvement. In order to analyse the scores by theme, this section aggregates the results obtained from the companies by revenue bands, industry groups, and headquarter location.
On average, small and medium sized companies (with an annual revenue up to USD 500 million) have achieved higher scores than larger organisations (with an annual revenue equal to or above USD 500 million) (Figure 7). Smaller companies are sometimes able to implement change more quickly, allowing them to transition to a more circular way of doing business. In addition, across all revenue brackets, companies have generally performed better on the Enablers category than on Outcomes. We would expect to see this, because Enablers are more likely to be the first steps in a company’s circular economy journey, and indicate how well-positioned a company is to transition to a more circular way of doing business in the future.
Figure 7 shows the average Circulytics scores by annual revenue, industry group, and headquarters location. In order to guarantee anonymity, only clusters containing more than five company submissions were aggregated and displayed. In this regard, enough data was gathered to show all revenue groups, six industry classifications (consumer/end products, intermediate products, upstream processing, infrastructure, finance and insurance, and services) and four regions (Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America).
Average Circulytics Score - By Annual Revenue ($USD)
Average Circulytics Score - By Industry Group
Average Circulytics Score - By Headquarter Location
Figure 7. Average company score by annual revenue, industry group, and headquarter location for companies that have completed the most recent assessment of Circulytics between October 2020 and August 2021. Click on the arrow at the bottom right of the chart to view different parameters. N=123 is the total sample size, which can vary depending on parameter selection.
3. Change in scores between Circulytics assessments
This third section highlights the findings regarding the evolution of scores between completed assessments from the first version of Circulytics (January 2020 to October 2020) and the updated version (October 2020 to August 2021). Due to improvements made to the Circulytics tool, including regrouping of the Outcomes indicators into six themes in October 2020, not all themes within the Outcomes category are directly comparable between the two reporting cycles. Thus, some indicators within the category were selected to allow comparisons over time. They are:
Inflow of materials going towards the biological cycle*
Inflow of materials going towards the technical cycle*
Recirculation of materials in the technical cycle
Renewable energy use
Share of circular services in service revenue
All themes within the Enablers category (strategy and planning, innovation, people and skills, operations, and external engagement) are comparable between reporting cycles.
3.1 Score change results
24 companies have completed both assessments. Due to the low sample size, rather than generalising conclusions, this section looks at the trends that these organisations exhibited between one assessment and the other. As Circulytics continues to be updated and companies become increasingly familiar with the reporting process, it is expected that the number of companies annually tracking their progress increases. This will allow for a more robust sample size for evaluating the observed initial trends.
The Enablers category, which is comparable between the two reporting cycles, improved by 8%
There was a 4.6% improvement in renewable energy uptake and a 5% improvement on the share of circular services in service revenue
Figure 8 shows the change in score between Circulytics versions. Although the individual scores of companies may show large disparities, all themes within Enablers have, on average, seen an improvement in scores (Figure 8). The general increase in themes within the Enablers category is expected. As mentioned before, Enablers are often precursors to tangible outcomes and thus are more likely to be the first steps in a company’s circular economy journey.
The average change in scores within the selected Outcomes themes shows a higher degree of heterogeneity. Renewable energy use increased by 4.6% and the share of circular services in service revenue by 5%, while the scores for the inflow of materials going towards the biological and technical cycle, as well as the recirculation of materials in the technical cycle, have seen little change — and even a slight reduction for the indicator on material sourcing for the biological cycle (Figure 8). While all themes within the Enablers category will be answered by all companies taking the Circulytics assessment, only a subset of indicators within Outcomes (with the exception of energy use) will be relevant to any given company. Therefore, the sample size of these indicators are lower than on the Enablers theme. With the expected increase in the number of companies annually tracking their progress, a more robust sample size will assist in confirming the initial trends observed within these indicators.
The growth in renewable energy use, for which all companies report on, may lie on the fact that the global share of renewable energy in electricity generation, for instance, has grown significantly during recent years. This was made possible due to a global fall in costs and increased policy support. An economy powered by renewable energy is a crucial pillar within the circular economy, as it addresses one of its key principles of eliminating waste and pollution. Organisations may see increasing their share of renewable energy use as a low hanging fruit towards transitioning to a more circular way of doing business and meeting their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
Change in score between Circulytics versions
Figure 8. Change in score between Circulytics versions. The shaded area shows the spread between the biggest increase and decrease in scores, while the bar represents the average change of all companies within each theme or category. N=24. This graph aims to capture the initial trends of companies that completed both Circulytics assessments, and is not based on a representative sample size.
Circulytics can benefit companies by stimulating the tracking of circular economy related company-level data and generating insights that inform design, procurement, and strategic decision making. As such, as companies continue to repeat the Circulytics assessment on an annual basis, we expect continued progress as decisions regarding changes to linear economic systems begin to take effect.
*In the latest update of Circulytics, launched in October 2021, outflow materials for the biological and technical cycle are referred to as ‘materials designed to be consumed’ and ‘materials designed to be used’, respectively.