Helping Companies Report on Circular Economy and Sustainability Efforts

Companies are making great strides with sustainability, but the impact is often difficult to quantify. Read how we're using Standards to help companies evaluate circular economy efforts.
Man examining plastic pellets in a processing/recycling facility

In an effort to address global environmental issues such as resource scarcity, supply chain volatility and bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals, companies are increasingly shifting away from linear production models in favor of circular ones—prioritizing sustainability practices such as eliminating waste, reusing materials and regenerating natural resources. Circular Economy is the term often used to promote these sustainability efforts, but the true extent of a company’s circularity has been difficult to quantify. In order to help improve overall confidence and trust in these sustainability claims, Underwriters Laboratories is developing UL 3600, the Standard for Measuring and Reporting Circular Economy Aspects of Products, Sites and Organizations.

How UL 3600 Will Help Measure Corporate Sustainability

UL 3600 is intended to help companies quantify circularity consistently and communicate sustainability efforts to consumers transparently. It will measure sustainability at the site, product and company level, and will also provide a report with an overall score to rate the circularity of a company’s material flow—its ability to eliminate waste and keep goods in productive use over time.

The score will demonstrate the overall efficacy of the company’s sustainability efforts, including the use of recycled content and bio-based content, recyclability of products, waste minimization and landfill diversion. In order to streamline the evaluation process, the Standard allows companies to provide existing metrics, such as data related to air or water emissions rather than requiring the collection of new data for each evaluation. The process is designed to be as simple as possible to encourage companies to pursue certification and use the score as a benchmark for continuous improvement.

Additionally, the score will factor in corporate social responsibility elements such as addressing worker health and safety throughout the supply chain, and measuring diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the company workforce and leadership levels. The inclusion of these factors is intended to assist companies in reporting on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) to stakeholders, and to make a positive impact on the communities in which facilities are located.

Standards Technical Panel (STP) Meetings

UL 3600 is currently in development with input from a Standards Technical Panel (STP) comprised of experts from industries such as waste management, forestry and chemical supply, as well as participants from academia and regulatory and international agencies. Task groups are finalizing work, which is expected to conclude in the third quarter of 2021. Publication of the Standard is targeted to occur in the first quarter of 2022. 

Underwriters Laboratories aims to maintain a balance of participants in every STP, with no interest category comprising more than one-third of the membership balance. To improve the current balance for STP 3600, the organization is recruiting participants in the following interest categories: 

  • Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) 
  • Commercial/Industrial Users, Consumer 
  • Government 
  • International Delegate 
  • Supply Chain
  • Testing and Standards Organizations 

If you are interested in applying for STP 3600 membership, or are aware of potential candidates for this STP, please contact us.

How to Get Involved in Standards Development

The UL standards development process is open to anyone, and comments and proposals can be submitted at any time through our online Collaborative Standards Development System (CSDS). If you would like to propose changes to UL 3600, submit a Proposal Request at csds.ul.com. 

UL 3600 will be available for purchase and free digital access in English and French on the UL Standards Sales Site. The creation of a free account is required to access the digital view.
 

Fast Facts

  • A circular production model is one that prioritizes sustainability practices such as eliminating waste, reusing materials and regenerating natural resources.
  • UL 3600 is the first Standard to help companies evaluate circular economy efforts.
  • The Standard will measure sustainability at the site, product and company level, and will also provide a report with an overall score to rate the circularity of a company’s material flow.
  • The score will also factor in corporate social responsibility elements such as addressing worker health and safety throughout the supply chain and measuring DE&I in the company workforce and leadership levels.
  • Publication of the Standard is tentatively expected to take place in early 2022.