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Circular Economy

How are circular purchasing processes realized?

Circular purchasing is imposing requirement on products or services that era being purchased. For achieving circular purchasing processes, the total cost of ownership is important to consider. Also, a ten-step roadmap to C2C purchasing, a framework and a tool for circular purchasing are available, to guide the process towards circular purchasing.

Circular purchasing

Circular purchasing means that conditions should be set on the product and services bought. These conditions can include demands on the design, the production phase, the use phase and the phase after use. Questions that can be used to set these demands include the following:

  • What is the objective (economic and technical) product lifetime?
  • What percentage of the product is made from recycled materials?
  • Where do the materials come from? Is that proven?
  • What measures are being taken to extend the life of the product after recycling (upgrade, resell, repair, refurbish)?
  • What measures are taken to reuse part or materials at the highest quality possible (remanufacture, repurpose, recycle)?

A more detailed overview on what demands can be made to ensure circularity is discussed by PianOo. Padding, Croon, Haastrecht, & Dijkstra, 2015

Supply Value, 2016

Total cost of ownership

Sustainable purchasing can only be successful if more indicators than pricing are taken into consideration. The perspective of “Total Cost of Ownership”, which includes ecological and economical costs, and integrates negative externalities, gives a higher return on the long run, both financially as to regarding sustainability.

The Terrace, 2011, p.12-16

10-step roadmap

A 10-step roadmap for C2C purchasing can also be applied for ‘circular purchasing’. The steps are:

  1. Determine the themes at which your organizations wants to deliver added value;
  2. Ensure expert knowledge;
  3. Involve responsible employees;
  4. Organize a creative session on how purchasing can have added value, and formulate global ambitions;
  5. Underpin this added value with numbers;
  6. Do market research, see what options are available;
  7. Develop a purchasing strategy;
  8. Determine what are must-haves and what are nice-to-haves;
  9. Start the tender;
  10. Keep paying attention to contracts.

PianOo, 2012, p.2


A framework for successfully determining the impact of circular purchasing consists of four components:

  1. A tool for determining supply and demand;
  2. A framework for determining circularity of suppliers;
  3. A framework for determining impact claims;
  4. A policy-evaluating framework to determine progress.

Vermeulen, W. J. V, Witjes, & Reike, (2014), p.13-14


There is a tool on Circular Purchasing, developed by CSR Netherlands (MVO Nederland), where the basics of circular purchasing are discussed .

MVO Nederland, 2014