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TIP 3 – operational steps for a circular approach for SMEs

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The definition of an Action Plan for circular economy touches many elements of an organization’s activity involving the entire supply chain for all environmental, economic, and social aspects.

In the logic of continuous improvement, the logical path proposed in the scheme should be repeated on a periodic basis. Indeed, an important operational step is the definition of the measurement and control actions of the established management system. This is done by re-applying a circularity assessment system, which itself is periodically reviewed to make it more in tune with the stakeholders. For example, based on an annual review of the results achieved, it is possible to define the action plan for the following year and the consequent strategic decisions.

Identification of product/service types

The types of products/services created, and their value chain is identified. This is both before and after production. All in relation to the reference market. From a methodological point of view, it is also considered appropriate to place products and services in two distinct categories, and consequently to distinguish manufacturing companies from those providing services. Manufacturing companies are companies whose main activity is “the physical or chemical transformation of materials, substances or components into new products”. On the contrary, service companies are understood to be those excluded from the previous categorization. Service companies are considered, for example, consultancy companies, distribution companies, etc.

By type of product/service, identification of the chain

Once the product/service has been identified, it must be broken down according to the relevant main value chain phases.

As far as the products are concerned, the phases are as follows:

  • Supply
  • Design
  • Production
  • Distribution logistics
  • Product use / consumption
  • End of life

As far as services are concerned, there are different phases:

  • Supply
  • Service design and delivery
  • End of life

The Guidelines for an Action Plan for circular economy for SMEs can be downloaded in the “results section” of the project website (