[Focus] What do we learn from the benchmark for CIRCLE IT?
With a view to creating a tool for questioning and analysis, CIRIDD has produced a benchmark. Its purpose was to highlight existing tools and to identify good practice.
Based on a literature search, this benchmark focused on tools for evaluation, analysis and questioning in the field of circular economy (14 tools) and societal and environmental efficiency (7 tools). By tool, we mean data repositories as well as guides, online tools or software. This research was completed by an interview with Alain Geldron, National Raw Materials expert at ADEME.
The tools identified were classified according to the field concerned (circular economy in general or a “pillar” in particular, such as industrial and territorial ecology), targets (companies, territories), objectives (evaluation, analysis, decision-making assistance, reporting, awareness raising, communication, etc.), types of indicators (economic, environmental, social), the characteristics of the tool (table, online tool) and how it is used.
The tools analysed are generally aimed at states and regions or companies. Few of them cover all types of project leaders. Moreover, the majority of the tools examined are data repositories or tables presenting a number of indicators that cannot be used digitally. They focus primarily on quantitative assessment and measurement. Few adopt a questioning and qualitative approach.
The tools give several visions of the circular economy. While some prefer to measure the consumption of raw materials and waste, others take into account broader dimensions such as the environment, the economy, social issues and cooperation. Still others are based on the seven pillars of the circular economy as modelled by ADEME.
Given the abundance of tools favouring a quantitative approach, the benchmark has confirmed the usefulness of a tool as envisaged by CIRIDD aiming at a qualitative approach while promoting collective thinking.
Research has emphasized the importance of building together and testing the tool by involving several kinds of people as well as carrying out meticulous work on the criteria to be included in the questions. Ultimately, the tool must be easy to use, reflect the different dimensions of circular economy projects and encourage improvement.
Three tools stand out by the way they are used.
These are online tools presenting the results of the evaluation as a graph:
- The circularity indicator tool is a tool requiring payment, developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to assess the performance of companies in terms of circular economy. It calculates the circularity of each product and aggregates the results.
- Evalu’EC, designed by Comité 21 and Ecole Centrale de Nantes, is a self-diagnosis tool for companies about their progress according to components of the circular economy (the seven pillars, the business model and communication).
- ELIPSE, ÉvaLuatIon des PerformanceS des démarches d’Ecologie industrielle et territoriale (Evaluating the performance of industrial and territorial ecology), lets project leaders monitor and assess projects according to 3 main principles and 9 objectives. It was begun by Orée and built jointly.
Focus on ELIPSE, an assessment tool for ITE approaches as applied to the Strasbourg port area
ELIPSE is a specific tool for Industrial and Territorial Ecology (ITE) initiatives. It incorporates questions about companies that are directly involved and also ones about the area and its inhabitants.
It is used to assess, provide follow-up to guide decision-making and give an account, as well as to broaden the way companies think. It can be used at different stages and it is recommended that it should be used collectively. The tool was also designed to highlight good practice and develop thinking at national level, the results being accessible to ADEME, ORÉE and to “observers” on request.
So ELIPSE and CIRCLE IT have several points in common, but their positioning differs notably in terms of targets (ITE for one, circular economy in general for the other) and objectives (CIRCLE IT aims at analysis).
What lessons can be drawn from the CLES assessment, the ITE approach to the Strasbourg port area?
The Idée Alsace business network is in charge of running and evaluating the Industrial and Territorial Ecology approach to the Strasbourg port area. This began in 2013 and is led by the Strasbourg port users’ group (Groupement des Usagers des Ports de Strasbourg - GUP). To date, 22 companies belong to it and it has enabled more than a dozen synergies (substitutions and resource pooling) to be implemented. The results are noteworthy: more than €330,000 in savings, 3,500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent not released and 40,000 litres of water saved per year.
CREATED IN 2004 AND MANAGED AS AN ASSOCIATION, IDÉE ALSACE’S VOCATION IS TO PROMOTE THE RESPONSIBLE ECONOMY BY ENCOURAGING SOCIETAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY PRACTICES BY COMPANIES AND REGIONS. IT PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR REGIONS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ITE INITIATIVES.
This ITE initiative is unusual in that it has been evaluated twice via ELIPSE. After the first evaluation in 2016, an action plan was formulated to focus efforts on priority themes identified through the results of the tool. The impacts of these actions and the progress of the projects already implemented were evaluated again in 2017, indicating which actions needed going into further, correcting or redirecting in order to improve the overall performance of the initiative.
For example, the evaluation revealed shortcomings in terms of communication and clarity of the approach. No tool existed in 2016. To remedy this and improve communication with companies, a name CLES : Coopérations Locales et Environnementales en Synergies (Local and environmental cooperation in synergies), a logo, a brochure and a graphic charter were created.
The ELIPSE tool has the advantage of being exhaustive and offers a fairly precise portrait of the initiative. The downside is that the evaluation takes time. The second use is nevertheless easier and is more about updating data according to the Idée Alsace facilitators. They recommend carrying out an evaluation every 2 to 3 years.
For them, it is important to understand the calculation logic of the tool in order to interpret the results in more detail and improve them. One may indeed feel a discrepancy between the “field” impression of the facilitators and the results announced by ELIPSE.
The Idée Alsace facilitators wanted to be as exhaustive as possible even for fields not taken into account in the calculations of the tool (subjective answers). ELIPSE was designed for the evaluation of ITE initiatives, so the tool is sometimes not very well suited to the specific features of the Port's initiative, as some actions cannot be taken into account by the indicators proposed. In addition, the evaluation criteria may be interpreted differently depending on the individual. So not everything must be scrutinized by ELIPSE and “human” intelligence is always necessary to interpret the evaluation.
In addition to being a tool for monitoring and evaluation, ELIPSE is a communication tool for institutional and business partners. The results are presented in meetings and are used to justify and enhance the actions implemented. Finally, it is a tool promoting visibility, with its “observer” mode. Several people have already requested observation from Idée Alsace to access more information about developments of the CLES approach.
For more information: https://goo.gl/NzsHz9
Illustration: The main principles and objectives of ELIPSE. http://www.referentiel-elipse-eit.org/index.html
Source: ECLAIRA - Newsletter No. 10 / March 2018
Newsletter edited by CIRIDD with support from Région Auvergne - Rhône-Alpes
Photo credits: Fotolia - CIRIDD - Flickr - Freepik