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The Circular Economy Toolkit - 5 Minute Opportunity Assessment Tool

The opportunity assessment tool has combined literature, survey results and observations from workshops. The assessment tool will provide an indicator of potential areas for business opportunity or improvement according to the product design and your business operations. Greater benefit may be seen according to industry, product, positioning in the value chain, relation with the customer etc. The opportunity assessment tool should be complemented by reading the toolkit, case studies, using the tools provided and by running your own workshop.

What next?

Once you know the areas of potential greatest opportunity, read more information in the toolkit and use more of the tools explained. Start thinking how your business could start making money out of these opportunities through offering new services, product re-designs or by satisfying the customer need to make and support more sustainable, circular products.

Why not set-up your own workshop to validate your findings and start implementing some of these opportunities?

How does the tool work?

For design, manufacture and design, usage and recycling phases, the product design alone is considered and a ranking is placed according to an average of the results (low = 1, medium =2, high =3).

For extensions to existing services (maintain/repair, reuse/redistribute, refurbish/remanufacture and products as a service) results are taken from each section and the opportunity (including financial viability and market growth potential) is considered against the current product design. Each line is taken in to account and an average taken for the results for the opportunity and feasibility. The results are then plotted on the 3x3 matrix below. If there is high business opportunity and the product design is well suited, it's rated as a potential 'high opportunity'. If there is little business opportunity and the product design does not aid the service, then it's ranked as a lower opportunity, as shown here:

The tool doesn't give the answers I was expecting?

The tool has been designed to capture current product design and business operations. A change in either will affect the size of the opportunity. For example, if there is a strong market for remanufactured goods, but the product design does not support remanufacture, then the opportunity will be ranked low. If a product redesign took place to make the part say easier to disassemble and more modular in design, then the opportunity would increase.

It should be noted that the assessment tool considers your results against best practise e.g. using 100% fully recycled materials is excellent for the Circular Economy, however it might be technologically unachievable. The assessment tool is unable to assess the difficulty for your business to further stretch the product or service performance. This needs to be undertaken in more thorough discussions and analysis.

The tool also does not consider the tendencies of the customer. For example, if the product is sold to the consumer market then there may be a greater opportunity to sell more sustainable products which could be sold at a premium. These are considerations that should be taken in to account in the workshop where opportunities are prioritised.

The Opportunity Assessment Tool offers a simple grading of opportunities. For more in-depth analysis, other tools from the toolkit should be used and feasibility studies conducted in the potential areas. This will give a more accurate view to find the greatest financial benefit within your organisation and the action which you should take.

Answer the questions below to find potential improvements in your organisation:

* Company type:   

* Product type:     

* Use:                     

Design, Manufacture and Distribute

No material is used in excess, product is totally dematerialised
High waste of material, could be reduced through redesign
100% Biodegradable
High percentage of technical, non-biodegradable materials
100% Recycled materials used
High percentage of virgin, non-recycled materials
No scarce materials used in product
Scarce materials in product, e.g. Antinomy, Cobalt, Gallium, Geranium, Indium, Platinum, Palladium, Niobium, Neodymium and Tantalum
Materials are highly eco-efficent (low energy and carbon emissions to produce)
Materials used have poor eco-efficiency
No toxic materials in product
Excess toxic materials in product
Zero waste factory; all waste is used as input to another process/factory
Significant waste sent to landfill from factory

Usage(by the customer)

Product failures rarely occur
Product failures are frequent
Product has a very long lifetime
Product has a short lifetime
Product uses no, or close to theoretical minimum power
Product is energy and resource wasteful

Repair/Maintenance of the product

Cost of repair far outweighs cost of product
Cost to repair is small in comparison to the product cost
Suitable maintenance/repair service already offered (could include repair, servicing, spare parts, diagnostics, technical support, installation and warranty)
No maintenance/repair service offered
Difficult to get access to internal workings
Easy to get access to internal workings
Complex workings, difficult to understand
Simple workings, easy to understand
No components, connectors, modules or leads are standardised
All components, connectors, modules and leads are standardised
Difficult to find fault
Easy to find fault

Reuse/Redistribution of the product

No market for second hand sales
Good market for second hand sales
Comprehensive second hand sales already offered
No second hand sales offered currently
Product has a very long lifetime
Product has a short lifetime

Remanufacturing/ Refurbishment of product or part

Expensive refurbishment/ remanufacturing costs
Cheap refurbishment/ remanufacturing costs
Expensive collection costs to return product to factory
Cheap collection costs to return product to factory
All products are returned and refurbished/remanufactured
No refurbishing or remanufacturing currently undertaken
Difficult to disassemble
Easy to disassemble
Significant damage caused to product or part when disassembling
No damage caused to product or part when disassembling
Impossible to identify parts once disassembled
Easy to identify parts once disassembled
No parts are modular, preventing switch in-switch out
Many parts are modular, allowing switch in-switch out
Impossible to upgrade parts
Possible to upgrade to parts
Many mechanical connections, e.g. welds, screws, rivets, etc.
Few mechanical connections
Many tools required to disassemble
Few tools required to disassemble

Products as a Service

No market to sell products as a service
Good market to sell products as a service
All products already sold as a service
No products currently sold as a service

Product Recycling at end of life

Few material combinations used in the product
High number of material combinations used in the product
No encased materials(e.g. if materials are easy to separate at recycling)
Many encased materials

*Data will be collected for research purposes, no specific company details will be shared

Further Information on the Assessment Tool and Calculation
E-mail me the Results

                                     CE Toolkit Press Release