Towards a more direct policy feedback in circular economy monitoring via a societal needs perspective

The increasing focus on circular economy at the level of governments and policy requires the development of appropriate indicators to effectively monitor the progress towards the circular economy. Currently two very different types of indicator areas are under development: (i) monitoring frameworks based on macro indicators that summarize the progress at (supra)national level, and (ii) micro indicators tailored towards assessing circularity at the level of products. It is not possible to obtain sufficiently direct feedback about the impact of policy interventions by either macro or micro indicators alone. In this paper, a conceptual approach is developed that aims to bridge the gap between the micro and macro level with meso level indicators, and thus ultimately deliver more direct feedback for policymakers, via the insertion of an extra level of meso indicators in between the macro and the micro level. These indicators have been extracted from a dedicated workshop that involved policy, sector and societal stakeholders. The aim of these indicators is to report on progress towards circular economy objectives based on the fulfillment of societal needs. In this way the consumption perspective is given a central position, and the role of circular business models is acknowledged. Following the development of the concept, the next steps towards tailored, flexible and agile monitoring frameworks for circular economy at (supra)national and regional level are outlined. The paper concludes with an illustrative example of the framework applied to the mobility system.