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TIP 6 – Use of operational procedures for the implementation of the action plan for circular economy in SMEs

To correctly implement an action plan for circular economy, it is necessary to define specific procedures, aimed at guaranteeing the achievement of the objectives and actions that have been envisaged. By way of example, the following is a list of possible procedures to be implemented:

  • analysis of the context of the organization
  • management of legislative permits
  • risk planning management actions
  • post-market surveillance
  • validation risk processes
  • design: circular product/service
  • packaging and labelling: design
  • commercial: activities and actions
  • procurement: activities and actions
  • production: activities and actions
  • packaging and labelling: design
  • packaging and labelling: activities and actions
  • procurement logistics: activities and actions
  • distribution logistics: activities and actions
  • arrivals warehouse: activities and actions
  • shipping warehouse: activities and actions
  • packaging: activities and actions
  • checks and tests
  • human resource management
  • material resources
  • resource measurements
  • preventive actions corrective actions
  • management of feedback information from the market (complaints)
  • audits
  • management meeting
  • communication and raise awareness activities

Here below is reported an example, showing the minimum contents of an operating procedure.

Example of environmental procedure I

Title: Procedure for procurement of greener office supplies
Purpose  To introduce Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria to buying products that relates to office paper and supplies. 
Contents For the supply of office paper, it was mandatory to submit at least one green product. The supply of office paper has to include envelopes and paper arch files made from 100% recycled fibres. The production of virgin paper fibres can contribute to the global shrinking of forested areas and the associated loss of biodiversity, as not all forests are managed in a legal and sustainable manner. The purchase of 100% recycled paper addresses these impacts by reducing the volume of virgin pulp required. In addition, where post-consumer recycled fibre is used, the amount of water and energy required during the production process is significantly reduced. The ecological criteria of the EU Ecolabel or other types of eco-labels directly related to paper production (and not the management practices of the factory) must be met. This includes the requirement that paper be elemental chlorine free (ECF) or totally chlorine free (TCF). Indeed, Chlorine compounds used in the bleaching process for paper can react with existing organic substances in water, creating compounds which may be toxic and are poorly degradable in the aquatic environment. Thus, in order to avoid the production of such compounds, the bleaching process should be totally chlorine free (TCF) or elemental chlorine free (ECF). For other products (such as pens, post-its and glues), suppliers had the option to submit a green product, which would then be evaluated for inclusion in the framework. Also in this case, the ecological criteria of the EU Ecolabel or other type of eco-labels (and not the management practices of the factory) must be met.  All products carrying the EU Ecolabel will be deemed to comply. Other types of eco-labels will also be accepted, as will any other appropriate means of proof such as a technical dossier of the manufacturer or a test report from a recognised body. Records of the methods and quantitative of purchased products will be kept by the internal purchasing manager.
Responsibility The responsible for the implementation of this procedure is XXX.  
Example of environmental procedure II

Title: Procedure for Environmental Training of employees
Purpose  To ensure that employees carry out their duties in as environmentally responsible a manner as possible, XXX provides environmental awareness training to all employees and task-specific training to employees whose activities are associated with significant environmental aspects. 
Contents All new employees receive a 30-minute introduction to the internal environmental policy and environmental objectives, as part of the mandatory New Employee Orientation.  The web page on the organization includes a summary of the environmental policy and environmental objectives, as well as news updates on environmental implementation and success stories. The page includes a mechanism for employee input and feedback.  Task-specific training is conducted for the following employees:  • Individuals and job titles with designated environmental roles and responsibilities;  • Job titles/functions with responsibility for managing or executing activities associated with the implementation of environmental procedures.  Awareness training is given to new employees during their first week and annually to all employees. Task-specific training is given to relevant employees when they take on a new function associated with environmental management activities and refresher courses are given as required. Both awareness and task-specific training are reviewed at least annually for updates or when there are significant changes to operations.  Records of the awareness and task-specific training received by each employee are kept electronically by XXX.
Responsibility The responsible for the implementation of this procedure is XXX.  

The Guidelines for an Action Plan for circular economy for SMEs as well as the procedures developed by each of the involved organization in the project can be downloaded in the “results section” of the project website (