Glossary

GENERAL DEFINITIONS

Alternate Materials: Substituting non-traditional materials that can be more sustainable than the materials they are replacing. One example is the use of mushroom fibers in place of styrofoam for packaging inserts.

Automation: The technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

Biodiversity: Diversity of plant and animal species on the planet which includes both number of species and abundance within a species. The rarity of species such as endemic or threatened and endangered status plays a role in biodiversity assessment and management.

Carbon Footprint Reduction: Products that, through design, have decreased the overall amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated across their entire lifecycle through actions such as material selection, manufacturing or use-phase energy efficiency, planned reuse and recycling.

Closed Loop: A process whereby products or packaging reaching the end of their useful life are collected, recycled, and returned as feedstock in the production of new products of the same type. For the purposes of this toolbox, 'closed loop' designates systems where the materials from the recycled product return only to the production of the same or similar type product, rather than a broader interpretation where a product is recycled and contains recycled content, but the two processes are not directly linked.

Compostable: A product or material that is capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site. For the purposes of this toolbox, materials that are compostable in commercial facilities as well as those compostable in residential compost piles are listed as compostable.

Composting: The process of breaking down organic materials through biological degradation in either a commercial or residential compost pile.

Data Management: Systems that enable organizations to collect, process, and synthesize information regarding their supply chains to measure and assess sustainable and circular economy initiatives within their organizations.

Decrease End-of-Life Greenhouse Gases (GHG): A process that has been shown to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions from a product when it reaches the end of its useful life. Frequently coupled with waste diversion.

Decrease Manufacturing Energy: A process that has been shown to decrease the amount of energy required to complete a manufacturing task

Decrease Manufacturing Greenhouse Gases (GHG): A process that has been shown to decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions related to a manufacturing task. Reduction in GHG emissions frequently track with energy efficiency efforts.

Decrease Manufacturing Water: A process that has been shown to decrease the amount of fresh water that needs to be drawn from the local infrastructure or groundwater sources to complete a manufacturing task.

Dematerialization: Redesiging products to use less material than their predecessors of the same model type. This may include using new or different materials or simply desiging to use less of the same material in the new product design.

Design: Conciously creating products with the end goal of longevity, reuse, and the ability to recover materials at the end of its use by the first consumer. The organization desigining the product may or may not be directly involved with the product or package after its first use, but have enabled others to reuse, refurbish, remanufacture, or recover materials from the product at the end of its first useful life.

Design Service: Service available to help organizations design products, processess, or system to create circular business models.

Disassembly: A process where products are broken down into their component parts and materials for reuse or material recovery at the end of their useful life.

Durability: A product designed to be used longer that the market average, including designs that enable and encourage repair and refurbishment.

End-of-Life: Activities that follow the end of the first use phase of a product to its point of final disposal. End-of-life collectively contains reuse, refurbishment, remanufacturing, recycling, composting, as well as landfilling and incineration. In a circular business model, a product or its components and materials exit end-of-life and re-enter an earlier life cycle stage.

Final Manufacturing: Taking components and materials and creating final products for consumption. This life cycle stage includes product assembly, so processes may take place at multiple facilities. The output would be a finished product ready for consumption.

Green Financing: Investment in projects, initiatives, or businesses that are designed to improve society or the enviroment, or have busiess models based on sustainable or circular economy principles.

Intermediate Manufacturing: Using converted materials to create feedstock for another manufacturing process. This could include anything from synthesizing plastic resins to manufacturing computer chips, with the output primarily designated for use in another manufacturing process (b-to-b) rather than being a final product for consumption.

Lease: Business models wherea manufacturer contracts with another individual or organization to use a product for their own purposes, but ownership remains with the manfuacturer and is returned to the manfacturer at the end of the lease period. The manufacturer assumes responsiblity for maintenance and upkeep of the product, as well as respnsible end-of-life management. This model is frequently part of servitization business models.

Lightweighting: Similar to dematerialization, lightweighting is more commonly used in reference to packaging, where less material is used to perform the same function as previous versions of the same package.

Non-Hazardous Materials: Materials that do not contain hazardous components, or those that meet the criteria for classification as a carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive toxicant, or is persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic; or any chemical for which there is "scientific evidence of probable serious effects to human health or the environment which give rise to an equivalent level of concern" (REACH Title VII, Chapter 1, Article 57).

Packaging: A specific form of intermediate manufacturing, where the output is packaging rather than a material or component for a product itself. Packaging is called out separately because the package has its own supply chain that brings additional environmental and social impacts to a product life cycle.

Platform: Computer programs and related services that support organizations in their implementation and assessment of circular economy business models.

Procurement Criteria: The criteria used by an organization to decide between products or vendors who supply materials to their organization, either for use in manufacturing or use by the organization internally. For the purposes of this Toolbox, the criteria highlighted focus on supporting circular and sustainable products and services.

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): A technology that incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object, animal, or person. In the context of sustainability, this information may include region or location of origin, bill of materials, or intermediate processing steps.

Raw Material Conversion: Conversion of raw materials to a useable form for input into a manufacturing process. These activities may occur at the same geographic location (e.g., a refinery at a mining site or crop processing facilities on a farm) or be separate.

Raw Material Sourcing: Activities required to extract raw materials from their location in the biosphere. This includes mining and oil extraction as well as forestry and some on-farm activities.

Recyclable: A product for which a material recovery process exists at the end of the products useful life. This may be direct, such as packaging made from polypropylene plastic or through disassembly, where a product can be taken apart and its materials or components recovered.

Recycled Content: Use of non-virgin materials that have been produced through a materials recovery process such as recycling. For the purposes of this toolbox, both pre- and post-consumer content are categorized under 'recycled content'.

Recycling: The process of recovering materials from products (post-consumer) or manufacturing processes (pre-consumer) and returning them to the feedstock for some other process. Closed loop recycling is a special case where the material from a given product is returned as feedstock for the same type of product.

Refurbishment: Repair and reconditioning of products so that they can be returned to use for another life cycle. Refurbishment may be performed by the original manufacturer or a third party qualified to perform the necessary parts replacement or repairs.

Remanufacturing: Repairing and reusing previously used products or recovered components or materials in new products as part of the manufacturing process. Remanufacturing is a specific case of refurbishment where the original manufacturer is involved in reprocessing used equipment they have recovered from takeback programs.

Renewable Energy: "The fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. Such fuel sources include the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste materials and geothermal." (US EPA, 2014)

Renewable Source: A source for materials or energy that is renewable and does not deplete a finite resource. For the purposes of this toolbox, products that are manufactured using renewable energy or materials are listed under 'renewable source'.

Responsible Sourcing: Active effort on the part of a manufacturer to understand where the raw materials for their products are create and ensuring that their production does not have negative soical and enviromental impacts at the site of production or in surrounding communitites. This requires a certain degeree of supply chain transparency, so that the purchasing organiztion can verify that their materials are being sourced responsibly, especially for materials that do not have a certification scheme in place.

Reuse - Component: Components that are recovered whole for reuse from products that have reached the end of their useful life. For the purposes of this toolbox, products with components that are recovered and reused as well as processes that enable this are included in 'reuse - component'.

Reuse - Consumer: Reuse of whole products once their current user no longer has a use for it. This may include testing or minor repairs to ensure the product will perform reliably in its next life cycle. Multiple reuse cycles may be possible for a given product, especially if durability and reuse are considered during its design.

Servitization: Implementation of the "product to service" model where consumers are buying a service or function rather than the product itself. The manufacturer assumes responsiblilty for delivering that service or function, including repair, replacement, and responsible treatment at product end-of-life.

Sharing: Business models based on sharing resources between multiple people in order to maximize the use of a product and keep it in use as long as possible.

Single Stream: Municipal recycling system where all classes of recyclables are collected together and sorted into individual commodity streams at municple recycling facilities (MRFs) or other secondary processing centers.

Supply Chain Transparency: The ability of an organization to know where the materials and components used to make their product or the products they sell by knowing from whom and where the materials are sourced, as well as any who is responsible for any intermediate processing steps. This usually starts with an organization's first tier suppliers, and works backwards through the supply chain toward the original source of the material or forward to its final disposal at the end of the product's useful life.

Takeback: Efforts undertaken by original manufacturers of products to take their products or those of competitors back from the end user to ensure responsible end of first use managment. Returned products and materials may be reuse, refurbished, remanufactured or go to material recovery processes. Only voluntary efforts that go beyond regulatory requirements are considered in this toolbox.

Transport: A system or means of conveying people or goods from place to place by means of a vehicle, aircraft, or ship.

Upcycling: Reuse of post-consumer products or materials in an application that has a higher market value than the original product or the value of the product recycled through traditional recycling routes.

Waste Conversion: Using output from a manufacturing process that is normally disposed of as waste as input to another process. This may happen either within a factory, where material is returned to its original process, or transfered between faciliites where the process output becomes feedstock for a different manufacturing process.

Waste Diversion: Diverting material destined for a landfill to a different use that keeps the resources embedded in the material in use through reuse or recycling.

Water Conservation: Processes that decrease the overall amount of water used by an organization through processes, activities, or intiatives that reduce the amount of water required for a function.

Water Purification: Taking waste water from municipal or manufacturing sources and treating it so that it can be returned to the water system for further use.

Worker Training: Providing workers in supply chains the knowledge and support to be safe and healthy during the execution of their job.

 

INDUSTRIES

Consulting: An organization providing expert advice to other professional fields, but not engaging in activites to act on the advice provided.

Energy Producer: An organization engaged in activities to extract and refine fuels (usually fossil fuels) for energy production, but does not act as a utility or have as a primary business distribution to the end market.

Health Care: An organization that provides goods and services to treat patients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care.

Retail: An organization that sells goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale.

Service Provider: An organization that provides a service to others to enable circular or sustainable busiess models.

Transportation: Activities required to move materials or products from one point to another. This could occur at multiple points in a supply chain, although most commonly is focused on moving products from a final manufacturing facility to a retail location.

Travel/Hospitality: Service industry organizations engaged in travel, tourism, lodging, event planning, theme parks, transportation, cruise line, and additional fields related to travel or tourism.

Utility: An organization that is responsible for generation and distribution of services usually in a regulated market.