Our frequently asked questions (FAQs) below will hopefully answer any queries you may have. If not, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at circulytics@emf.org


Why is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation doing this?

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is an independent charity. As such, our work is purely guided by our ambition to create a world in which we all thrive. Our mission is to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and we understand that measurement is a crucial tool to help support strategic change. Measurement helps this by highlighting to companies where they need to focus their efforts / improve relative to their sector and supports them in identifying and building on successes. The Foundation is known for its rigorous analysis that continues to generate in-depth understanding on the opportunities of the circular economy. We have harnessed the evidence generated in the last decade of the Foundation’s work on circular economy and incorporated insights from our latest projects to ensure Circulytics is at the cutting edge of research. The Foundation has been working on measuring circular economy for companies since 2013, most notably launching the Material Circularity Indicator in 2015, in collaboration with Granta Design.

What does it cost for companies?

Nothing. It is completely free.

How can non-company organisations get involved?

If your organisation operates similarly to a for-profit company, Circulytics works for your organisation. If not, we invite you to spread the word about Circulytics.

How will the Foundation develop this going forward?

We will continue developing Circulytics for future updates, together with companies in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's network. Version 2 was launched in October 2020, and subsequent updates will be released on an annual basis in October each year. Updates will be balanced with improved scoring, and the ability of companies to track progress year on year using the same/very similar scoring method and indicators.

Will there be an option for governments / cities / countries in future?

We do not know yet. We are increasingly focusing on how to bridge the measurement from companies to governments, but we do not have a concrete project plan on this at the moment.

How is Version 2 different?

Version 2 of Circulytics was launched October 28th, 2020 with several improvements:

  • More intuitive indicators, creating a better user experience when it comes to inputting data and making the tool easier to use.
  • The Outcomes section has more themes, looking at materials, services, water and energy, finance, and assets such as plant, property, and equipment — providing more informative results and a clearer, more comprehensive picture of an organisation’s circularity.
  • More industry benchmarking — due to the fact we have more data available, from the large number of organisations that have completed a Circulytics assessment, we can now provide benchmarking for more industries, such as durable consumer goods, enabling businesses to compare their performance to others in their sector.
  • New indicators for water flows, which is useful for businesses in water intensive industries where water flows are a significant element in their operations.
  • Translations in Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese — making the tool available to more companies globally.
Doing the survey

Where do I submit my company data so a score is calculated?

All data must be submitted via the Circulytics survey, which is supported by online survey platform provider, Qualtrics. Data received by email and in other formats cannot be processed.

How do I access the reporting platform?

All companies interested in calculating their Circulytics score will be able to request an account by registering their details on our website. Once these details are submitted, an email will be sent from circulytics@emf.org. In this email, you will receive a secure link specific to your company. This email will also contain a username and password to grant access to the platform. Please note, it is the responsibility of responding companies to circulate the link and coordinate internally to ensure a single appropriate response is provided by your company.

Can I save and review progress in the platform?

Yes, the platform will save progress as you move through the survey. You should ensure you review all responses prior to submission, by re-navigating through each section via the contents page. The platform will alert you if you have not provided responses to mandatory questions. Once you have submitted your response, you will be able to review and download a summary of your response for your records.

My regions/business units are at different stages in terms of circular economy. Can I respond by business unit or by region?

Yes. The online platform allows you to choose to respond by sub-unit. You can select up to 9 sub-units and define them according to the way your business is set up (e.g., by business unit, region, or both). These sub-units should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, with all sub units representing the whole company in question. Doing so ensures that the final scorecard for the company as a whole is a true representation of the aggregated sub-units. You will also receive individual score cards per sub unit.

Where can I see the full list of questions?

In the document title 'Question Indicator List' available to download above. Please note that the exact questions in your survey depend on your company type, and there is a ‘Display Logic’ table within the aforementioned document that indicates which questions will be displayed in the survey platform.

Where is data from the survey stored? How do you keep my information secure and confidential?

Except where required as a matter of law or by a regulator, as a business signatory, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (and its professional advisers and subcontractors) will be the only organisation with access to the data you provide. Data is protected while in transit and at rest by current industry standard encryption across all platforms. We limit access and employ strict access controls such as strong passwords and secondary authentication mechanisms. Qualtrics, the company providing the questionnaire platform and where the data is initially stored (Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Security Statement), will not have access to reporting data submitted via the online questionnaire.

When should I do the Circulytics survey? Is there a deadline each year?

The deadline for completing the Circulytics survey for the current version 2.0 is 31st August 2021. The Foundation will not be able to analyse or generate a Circulytics score for any survey submitted after this date. Any organisations which are still in the process of completing the survey by 1st September 2021 will be informed that the current version of Circulytics is out of date, and that a new link / login details will be sent to them when the new version of Circulytics is released (in October 2021). A reminder will be sent in August 2021 to all organisations who are still in the process of completing the survey stating that they have until 31st August 2021 to complete the survey.

How long does it take to respond?

The survey is designed to be as easy to submit as possible, but the exact time requirement depends on the complexity of your business and on how readily available data is. In test phase, 50% of companies used less than 8 working hours to respond, while large, complex companies used 80-90 hours to do so.

How long does it take to get results after I submit?

EMF aims to respond within a month. However, depending on the number of submissions it may take longer, in which case we will let you know. After submitting your data, we will review it and for large companies, add analyst commentary. This manual, but important, part of the process may increase time to results.

How frequently can I undertake the survey?

Once per year. You can update your responses with additional data as a second submission within a calendar year. Reach out to us at circulytics@emf.org to regain access and update your existing submission.

What if I can't answer all of the questions?

The only mandatory fields are under basic information questions that are required to display the right indicators, and to weigh responses appropriately. Recognising that it may be difficult to find data to answer all questions, and that in some cases you may want to skip over certain indicators for various reasons, there are no mandatory fields in indicator responses. However, leaving indicator responses blank will result in a zero score for that indicator, bringing the overall score down.

Who can I contact for support with the survey?

Please send any questions about the completion of the survey, data which has been submitted about your company, or any technical questions you have to circulytics@emf.org. We will respond to you as soon as we can.

Using the results

Will the submitted data be verified or audited?

We rely on participating companies providing data accurately; data provided by your company will not be verified or audited. If you want to use a third party verification, we encourage this.

How will my score be used? Will my score be public? What information will be made public / ranking?

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation will not publish individual company scores. You will be able to publish your score with the conditions stipulated in the agreement. Your score will be anonymised and used to generate average scores overall, and by category and theme.

How am I allowed to use my score?

You can use your score internally as you see fit and as stipulated in the agreement. You can also publish your score as stipulated in the agreement.

How will my organisation be compared to that of a different industry?

After having sufficient data to ensure anonymity, we will generate cross-industry benchmarks for the 'enablers' section of the Score. Only you will be able to see your own score, and therefore any comparison where your company is named, will be only available to you.

What are the benefits to me?

Circulytics measures the entire company’s circularity - not just its products and material flows. It supports decision making and strategy development for circular economy adoption. It also provides transparency to investors and customers about a company’s circular economy adoption, if the company chooses to publish it. Furthermore, large companies, and companies in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's network, have the added benefit of analyst commentary from the Foundation. Companies who perform well will have the opportunity to become an inspiring case study for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to promote.

Other tools

The Material Circularity Indicator (MCI)

What it is

Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) is an assessment tool for companies to improve product design and material procurement. The MCI tool:

  • Measures the circularity of material flows for selected products
  • Allows companies to build from products to portfolios, and can be extended to a company level view on the circularity of material flows
  • Supports decision making on product design and material procurement

How MCI and Circulytics complement one-and-other

The company-level Circulytics and the product-level Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) are complementary as they address different needs, but with the same dataset. MCI data, when available on a company or on a business unit level, can be applied to the Circulytics material flow related question indicators.

World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Circular Transition Indicators (CTI)

What it is

CTI is a self-assessment framework for companies to help them understand the circularity performance of their material flows and energy consumption. It also looks at the use of critical materials and circular material productivity.

CTI allows companies to:

  • Decide the assessment scope and the appropriate time frame
  • View an online dashboard to update data and see results in real time

These elements enable CTI to be used in scenario planning. They are also useful in having informed discussions with suppliers and customers.

Other benefits and more details are available directly from WBCSD and via their website.

How Circulytics and CTI complement one-and-other

The Foundation and WBCSD have worked together to ensure the greatest viable degree of alignment as to how we collectively define and measure circular economy for companies. Importantly, the definitions and the ways each method measures material flows have been aligned so that companies can use the same datasets if they choose to use both tools.

Global Reporting Initiative. GRI 306: Waste 2020

What it is

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides standards for sustainability reporting on a range of economic, environmental and social impacts. GRI updated their Waste reporting standard 306 in May of 2020 to include elements of circular economy. The standard requires organizations to report on waste generated throughout the value chain, and release detailed information on its composition and how it is managed.

How GRI 306: Waste 2020 and Circulytics complement one-and-other

GRI 306 includes elements of circular economy, and companies who use either GRI 306 or Circulytics are able to use the same data in both methods.

To see how Circulytics 2.0 indicators map to the GRI 306 Waste Standard, click here.

Other tools to follow in 2020 and beyond as they are launched

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