(A.) Policy and legislation

(A.1) Policy objectives

Circular Economy (CE) is a top priority of the European Green Deal, which is one of the pillars of the twin transitions. As the term “twin transitions” implies, achieving the objectives of a Circular Economy will go hand-in-hand with the further progressing of the digital transformation. Circular Economy is described as a systematic approach to the design of processes, products (including services) and business models, enabling sustainable economic growth by managing resources effectively as a result of making the flow of materials more circular and reducing and ultimately eliminating waste. It requires a systemic approach that includes all levels from the collection of raw material to the full circle of use and re-use. The entire productive system must be totally “redesigned” with this new paradigm. The most evident and profound transformations are and will be represented by the great re-conversions in the Energy, Industrial (Automotive, Engineering, Iron and Steel), Construction, and Agricultural sectors and in the processes with greater consumption and impact on resources and raw materials (e.g. Supply Chains).

As part of the twin transitions, circular economy is a key aspect of the renewal of industry by driving green innovation and increasing competitiveness. Effective ways of handling scarcity of resources will help decrease dependencies. It has the potential of putting industrial development on fundamentally new grounds.

Digital technologies have revolutionised the possibilities for generating, storing, accessing, and using product-related information. The possibility to tag and identify products means that such useful information – both static and dynamic - can be linked to individual products, down to the level of the individual components and materials. Therefore, both the European Green Deal and the New Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) identifyinter alia product passports as a way to contribute to an effective product policy and empower professional users and consumers to make more sustainable choices. The European Green Deal notes that “Digitalisation can also help improve the availability of information on the characteristics of products sold in the EU. For instance, an electronic product passport could provide information on a product’s origin, composition, repair and dismantling possibilities, and end of life handling”.

ICT standards play a critical role in this context. They are of relevance at very different levels. For example standards are relevant for identifying, capturing, collecting,sharing, classifying, analysing and transferring data, providing data formats and defining IT/network infrastructure. Standards also support tools to work with data as well as tools for design. Standards define methods as well as metrics, e.g for testing and benchmarking. Standards also lay down rules for data governance. And many more areas.

The ICT sector, therefore, plays a key role in supporting interoperability and innovation of production processes related to industrial transformation and standardisation can make a significant contribution in supporting industry, in particular SMEs, in successfully undertaking the green transformation towards a circular economy.This is not just about “digitalisation” of processes: a real digital transformation is needed, processes have to be redesigned “thinking digital” and starting from digital since their (re) conception. The “digital by design” principle must be applied systematically and consistently in many sectors, including policy measures and legislation. There will be an unprecedented need of collaboration between traditional sectors and ICT, especially in standardisation activities.

(A.2) EC perspective and progress report

The European Commission Communication “A new Circular Economy Action Plan for a cleaner and more competitive Europe” (COM(2020) 98 final) identifies a number of areas where digital transformation plays a key role in enabling the circular economy - in particular:

  • Designing sustainable products and business models: mobilising the potential of digitalisation of product information, including solutions such as Digital Product Passports, tagging and watermarks (Chapter 2.1) as well as enabling circular business models such as product-as-a-service;
  • Circularity in production processes: promoting the use of digital technologies for tracking, tracing and mapping of resources (Chapter 2.3);
  • Construction and buildings: promoting measures to improve the durability and adaptability of built assets in line with the circular economy principles for buildings design and developing digital logbooks for buildings (Chapter 3.6);
  • Driving the transition through research, innovation and the digital transformation: Digital technologies can track the journeys of products, components, and materials and make the resulting data securely accessible. The European data space for smart circular applications will provide the architecture and governance system to drive applications and services such as product passports, resource mapping and consumer information (Chapter 6.3).

The Commission is working on the Sustainable Product Initiativel( SPI) which involves the widening of the scope of the Ecodesign Directive to the broadest possible range of products and the development of the digital product passport (DPP). The DPP will include requirements on data infrastructure, cross sectoral interoperability and data governance that need to be underpinned by standards.

The Digital Europe Programme is planning to support a Coordination and Support Action to define Digital Product Passports in the areas of batteries, electronics, and other priority sectors indicated in the CEAP. Pilots related to dataspaces for manufacturing will also be supported in 2022.

The MSP study group on Circular Economy (SGCE) has made a thorough analysis of the information and actions proposed via the Rolling Plan 2020. In general, a large number of topic areas covered in the Rolling Plan and specific proposed actions relate to digital transformation. This ranges from topic areas with high attention like Cloud or Internet of Things (IoT), addresses issues around security and privacy, but is also true for many topic areas where the digital transformation can help to reduce waste and - even better - to identify potentials for re-use. The analysis has shown that there are many actions that are relevant to circular economy, yet not are all are immediately recognisable as such, so some context setting and sharpening of this relation would be important.

In May 2021, 26 Member States and Norway and Iceland have signed a declaration to accelerate the use of green digital technologies for the benefit of the environment. They will deploy and invest more green digital technologies to achieve climate neutrality and accelerate the green and digital transition. At the same time, the European Green Digital Coalition (EGDC) of companies was formed with the purpose to develop consistent and science-based approach to assess the net environmental impact of ICT. The work of the companies will be complemented by European Parliament Pilot project (call for tender) that will support the work of the EGDC by bringing together experts in assessing the environmental impact of ICT including standardisation experts (mostly ITU and ETSI ). The work of this pilot project and coalition should ideally built on the existing standards, in particular the joint standard of ITU L.1410 and ETSI ES 203 199, and feed the work on the future standards.

(A.3) References

(B.) Requested actions

Action 1 SDOs to do a detailed landscaping of the standards that are available or under way to support circular economy objectives. The MSP may facilitate cooperation in this respect including on the work of respective standardisation roadmaps.

Action 2 SDOs to cooperate and start work in the areas of data carriers, identifiers, vocabularies, semantics, taxonomies, ontologies for circularity and sustainability of products along the life cycle.SDOs to describe further the approaches for a Digital Nameplate based on the concept of the Asset Administration Shell and semantic properties of IEC and ISO Common Data Dictionary (CDD).

Action 3 SDOs to start activities that support the sustainable product initiative objectives like ecodesign and its applications based on wider sustainability criteria to priority product groups and key value chains.

Action 4 SDOs to build on existing work and progress towards adding standardisation activities for circular economy objectives around the Digital Product Passport.

Action 5 Existing product identifier systems used in industry should be identified and the potential for interworking should be explored. The conversion from existing “island” solutions into a mesh of interworking data elements and finally into a (few) major product identifier catalogues is a long process best handled within the ESO and international standardisation systems.The Digital Product Passport concept – allowing identification of products and components throughout a full product lifecycle from manufacture to recycling – could have beneficial economic and environmental aspects.

Action 6 SDOs to standardize the interfaces and sub-models of Asset Administration Shell based on IEC 63278 series (for plants and products) for the input of current maintenance information (repairs, maintenance, conversions) into the systems of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.

Action 7 SDOs to cooperate on developing an Open Architecture Framework for Digital Product Passport and circular economy.

Action 8 CEN/CENELEC and ETSI to progress their work on energy-related products towards further addressing needs and supporting objectives of circular economy.

Action 9 SDOs to cooperate on developing use cases for new and emerging technologies like AI and Blockchain in the context of circular economy and to start respective standardisation activities in order to support making these technologies available fast for supporting circular economy.

Action 10 SDOs to work on metrics and setting criteria for the assessment of the environmental impact of equipment in the context of green financing.

Action 11 The European Commission, with the support of the MSP and relevant stakeholders, to facilitate the production of a landscape overview of ongoing open source projects in the area of circular economy that complement standardisation activities.

Action 12 SDOs to build on existing work and progress towards development of standards applicable for the Digital Product Passport in the area of access rights management, end-to-end communication, data transfer, data authentication, data reliability, data integrity, and data security and privacy.

(C.) Activities and additional information

(C.1) Related standardisation activities

The CEN-CENELEC Strategic Advisory Body on Environment (SABE) launched a new Joint Group on Circular Economy (JG-CE). The purpose of this Group is to provide advice and coordinate CEN and CENELEC’s standardisation activities related to the Circular Economy. More than 20 CEN and CENELEC Technical Committees are developing standards in support of various Ecodesign and Ecolabelling product regulations (through standardisation requests/mandates). Approximately 150 ENs were published (covering products such as: computer and computer servers, televisions, external power supplies, etc.). standardisation work related to energy efficiency mainly focused on the energy efficiency of products during their use phase. Moreover, as part of the Circular Economy Action Plan published in 2015, the European Commission requested to develop standards on material efficiency that would establish future ecodesign requirements on, amongst others, durability, reparability and recyclability of products. CEN/CLC/JTC10: Energy-related products - Material Efficiency Aspects for Ecodesign

A full list of new standards - EN 4555X - was recently released addressing specific aspects of circular economy:

EN 45552:2020 ‘General method for the assessment of the durability of energy-related products’;
EN 45553:2020 ‘General method for the assessment of the ability to remanufacture energy related products’;
EN 45556:2019 ‘General method for assessing the proportion of reused components in energy related products’;

EN 45557:2020 ‘General method for assessing the proportion of recycled material content in energy-related products’;

EN 45558:2019 ‘General method to declare the use of critical raw materials in energy-related products’;

EN 45559:2019 ‘Methods for providing information relating to material efficiency aspects of energy-related products’.,FSP_ORG_ID:25,2240017#1

Further on battery and circular economy:

CEN-CENELEC‹Standardisation in a Circular Economy – Closing the loop›

CEN/TC 319 ‹Maintenance›: various working groups, etc. are currently working on standards for “Maintenance Management” and “Maintenance Engineering”. These standards are intended to concretise and standardise basic tasks, role definitions and methods in the maintenance process of Industry4.0 installations

Ecma international

Standard ECMA-328 - Determination of Chemical Emission Rates from Electronic Equipment - Part 1 (using-consumables) and Part 2 (not using-consumables).This Standard (all parts) specifies methods to determine chemical emission rates of analyte from ICT & CE equipment during intended operation in an Emission Test Chamber (ETC).This Standard (all parts) includes specific methods for equipment using consumables, such as printers, and equipment not using consumables, such as monitors and PC’s.


ETSI TC ATTM (Access, Terminals, Transmission and Multiplexing) issued EN 305 174-8, supported by European Commission and based on EU WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment ) and RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substance) Directives. This EN and the TS 105 174-8 Series are some fundamental steps to improve the collection and treatment of ICT WEEE, promoting the circular economy regarding the amount of e-waste generated each year. The content of WEEE needs to be processed carefully due to the presence of both hazardous and precious substances. ETSI TC EE (Environmental Engineering) has produced TR 103 476 “Circular Economy (CE) in Information and Communication Technology (ICT); Definition of approaches, concepts and metrics” and is producing an EN on “Assessment of material efficiency of ICT network infrastructure goods (circular economy)” in the scope of Mandate M/543 on Material Efficiency on which the work is done in coordination with CEN/CLC/JTC10. Furthermore, EN deliverables are in preparation for the circular economy requirements specific to servers.

Green Electronics Council

EPEAT is an IT sector ecolabel for purchasers, manufacturers, resellers and others wanting to find or promote environmentally preferable products. The EPEAT program provides independent verification of manufacturers’ claims through Conformity Assurance Bodies evaluating products against EPEAT criteria. The EPEAT criteria are developed through a balanced voluntary consensus process. Standards that the EPEAT Program has historically adopted were created by Standards Development Organisations (SDOs) employing balanced voluntary consensus processes but are now developed through the Green Electronics Council Dynamic Standards Development Process (DSDP). The EPEAT online Registry lists sustainable products from a broader range of manufacturers than any comparable ecolabel. National governments and thousands of private and public institutional purchasers around the world use EPEAT as part of their sustainable procurement decisions. See


GS1 global and open standards provide a common language to identify, capture, and share supply chain data about products, locations, assets, and more. Companies usually combine different GS1 standards to ensure compliance and to streamline processes. Global Trade Identification Number - GTIN is the most used product identifier by companies globally and Data attributes included in the GTIN (e.g., serial number, regulatory requirements,...) support regulatory and business needs. The GS1 Digital Link standard extends GS1 identifiers by making them part of the web and by enabling connections to all types of business-to-business and business-to-consumer information. This could support the circular economy model in making data available in a smarter way directly from trusted sources and through open standards. The GS1 Global Traceability Standard defines a minimum set of traceability requirements within business processes to achieve full chain traceability, independent of any technology. It outlines a common framework to build a traceability system using GS1 standards – such as barcodes, data carriers and EPCIS. This standard allows an end-to-end traceability system, linking the flow of information to physical products. GS1 is working with other stakeholders in Europe to develop a circular data model allowing interoperability across sectors and data spaces.


The following horizontal standards are available or being developed:

EN IEC 60086-6:2020 ‘Primary batteries - Part 6: guidance on environmental aspects’

EN IEC 63115-1 ‘Secondary cells and batteries - Sealed nickel-metal hybrid cells and batteries for use in industrial applications - part 1: Performance’

prEN IEC 63218 ‘Secondary cells and batteries - Secondary lithium ion, nickel cadmium and nickel metal hybrid cells and batteries for portable applications - guidance on environmental aspects’

IEC TS 61851-3-7 ‘Electric vehicles conductive power supply systems - particular requirements for EV supply equipment - battery system communication’

prEN IEC 62933-4-4 ‘Electrical energy storage systems - environmental requirements for BESS using reused batteries in various installations and aspects of life cycles’

Predictive maintenance is another current standardisation with focus on maintainability. Ongoing activities are IEC 63270 ED1 “Industrial automation equipment and systems – Predictive maintenance“ within IEC/SC 65E.


ISO/TC 323, Circular economy, was formed in 2018 to address standardisation in the field of Circular Economy to develop frameworks, guidance, supporting tools, and requirements for the implementation of activities of all involved organisations to maximise the contribution to Sustainable Development. The following working groups are active:

WG1: Framework, principles, terminology, and management system standard.
WG2: Guidance for implementation and sectoral applications.
WG3: Measuring circularity.
WG4: Specific issues of circular economy type of business models (PSS,....).
WG5: Product circularity data sheet - ISO/AWI 59040 “Circular Economy — Product Circularity Data Sheet” is a new standard under development to provide a methodology and format for reporting and exchanging information about the circular economy aspects of products. More information available at

ISO/TC 324, Sharing economy, was formed in 2019 to address standardisation in the field of sharing economy. The following working group is active: WG1: Terminology and principles.
ISO 13374 on condition monitoring and diagnostics of machines during the processing, exchange and presentation of data.
ISO 13381 describes the principles for prognosis in the context of condition monitoring and diagnostics of machines.


The ITU has developed a series of international standards that support the transition to circular economy at city level and encourage re-use, recycling and circular design, and more in the ICT industry, including:

  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1020“Circular economy: Guide for operators and suppliers on approaches to migrate towards circular ICT goods and networks”
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1022“Circular economy: Definitions and concepts for material efficiency for information and communication technology”
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1023“Assessment method for Circular Scoring”
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1024“Effect for global ICT of the potential of selling Services instead of Equipment on the waste creation and environmental impacts»
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1100“Procedure for recycling rare metals in information and communication technology goods”
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1050 “Methodology to identify the key equipment in order to assess the environmental impact and e-waste generation of different network architectures”.
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1032“Guidelines and certification schemes for e-waste recyclers”
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1021“Extended producer responsibility - Guidelines for sustainable e-waste management”
  • Recommendation ITU-T L.1031“Guideline on implementing the e-waste reduction target of the Connect 2020 Agenda”
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.1033 “Guide for the institutions of higher learning to contribute in the effective life cycle management of e-equipment and e-waste” (under approval process)
  • Additionally, ITU is working on the following international standards:
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.GDSPP “Requirements for a global digital sustainable product passport to achieve a circular economy”
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.E-waste-collection “Guidelines on the collection, pretreatment, dismantling, valorisation and final disposal of WEEE“
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.ICT_CE “ICT response to circular economy”
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.TWS “Method for Evaluation of the Environmental and Safety Performance of True Wireless Stereo Products”

The following work item are being developed in collaboration with ETSI TC EE:

  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.Mat_frame “Assessment of material efficiency of ICT network goods (circular economy). Part 1: General for server and data storage equipment”
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.ME_AF “Assessment of material efficiency of ICT network infrastructure goods (circular economy). Part 3: Server and data storage product availability of
    firmware and of security updates to firmware”
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.ME_DD “Assessment of material efficiency of ICT network infrastructure goods (circular economy). Part 2: server and data storage product secure data deletion functionality”
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.ME_DIS “Assessment of material efficiency of ICT network infrastructure goods (circular economy). Part 5: Server and data storage product disassembly and disassembly instruction”
  • Draft Recommendation ITU-T L.ME_RM “Assessment of material efficiency of ICT network infrastructure goods (circular economy). Part 4: Server and data storage product critical raw materials”. Information on the ongoing work items is availablehere.

The ITU worked with the Basel Convention, Climate KIC, and other partners to include ITU’s green ICT standards in the world’s firstMassive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste management, which includes lessons on the role of ICT standardisation in the circular economy. ITU also recently organised webinars on e-waste management and circular economy - E-waste Challenge MOOC live events.
Additionally, theUnited for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) initiative, which is led by the ITU together with UNECE and UN-Habitat with the support of 14 other UN Agencies and Programmes, published “A Guide to Circular Cities”.

More info:


The eDelivery Building Block of the Connecting Europe Facility uses implementation guidelines for various OASIS technical specifications, in particular a profile of the OASIS AS4 standard (also ISO 15000-2). It is widely used in the public and private sector, not just to replace paper, but also to support innovative business processes and services. As a relevant example, eDelivery is used by suppliers of electrical products to register products in the European Product Database for Energy Labelling (EPREL) and for the Poison Centres Notifications of the European Chemicals Agency. While these are central systems, eDelivery also supports distributed, peer-to-peer exchanges, so market participants could also use it more widely for exchange of product or other circular economy related data.

OASIS UBL v 2.1 (ISO/IEC 19845) enables public sector procurement, including product reuse and sustainability analysis and has granular item description information structures to represent and exchange parts and materials data exchange. OASIS Product Life Cycle Support from the PLCS Technical Committee, which developed and issued data exchange templates (“DEX”) to augment the product management works of ISO TC 184/SC4 on industrial data (particularly ISO 10303 “STEP”). Use of these now-well-established open methods like UBL and STEP enhances the ability of suppliers and procuring agencies to comparably track and coordinate re-use over product lifecycles.

OASIS OriginBXwill produce data standards encapsulating product attributes and the determination and auditability of tax and trade attestations. In addition to country of origin attestations for qualifying a good for tariff savings, its work covers forced labor, sustainability, HTS classification, export controls, customs value, and other admissibility attestations. It also addresses tax residency/origin certifications for withholding tax relief at source and will enable counterparties within trade to quickly obtain information on the raw materials and components of manufactured goods within complex multi-tier supply chains.

tekom iiRDS Consortium

The iiRDS standard (intelligent information Request and Delivery Standard) enables the provision of intelligent maintenance-relevant information independent of industries and manufacturers. One goal of the iiRDS consortium, founded in 2018, is the specification of standardised mechanisms and a standardised vocabulary, which, in the context of Industry4.0, make it possible to generate situation-specific and context-specific information for the cases occurring throughout the product life cycle.

The following functions, among others, are to be fulfilled:

  • dynamically adapt to the user and application context
  • provide targeted information for all life cycle phases, from specification to maintenance
  • match the delivered system, even after configuration changes and updates
  • dynamically integrate assistance and sensor information and operating parameters
  • support various search and filter functions

The metadata of the iiRDS thus represent a standardised vocabulary for technical documentation. The iiRDS consortium is currently cooperating with the committee responsible for VDI 2770 to ensure the compatibility of that guideline.


Circular economy is one of the key themes of the work of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; it will be the main discussion theme of the commission session in April 2021. As input to discussions a Briefing Note on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business Contribution to Advance Circular Economy Actions has been developed outlining policy positions as well as activities in standardisation with relevance to the circular economy:

UNECE & UN CEFACT, in a project co-funded by the European Union,aim at developing the recommendations and tools for transparency and traceability in the apparel & footwear industry.

This exercise involves the development under the aegis of UN CEFACT of a standard for communicating along value chains relevant information allowing to substantiate claims.


By building a web of data, W3C’s strategy of data interoperability is directly and crucially relevant to the circular economy. The initiative is based on the Linked Data stack already specified that allow for re-use of existing tools like the specification on provenance of data. Relevant ongoing is work on is taking place especially in the Web of Things WG and in the Data Privacy Vocabulary CG.45

(C.2) additional information

Zero defects in manufacturing Horizon 2020 project