Preserving value in the circular economy

The aim of this study, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), was to develop a method to operationalise the notion of ‘value preservation’ in the circular economy and to incorporate it into monitoring procedures. The report was drawn up in the framework of the Working Programme on Monitoring and Directing the Circular Economy, 2019-2023, which aims to create a framework for monitoring and reviewing the policies adopted by the Dutch national government in this area through to 2050 and provide the know-how required for formulating and steering such policies.

The focus was on finding an economic indicator for ‘value preservation’ rather than an all-round indicator taking in such other effects as environmental footprint or security of supply. This focus on preservation of economic value guarantees maximum avoidance of double-counting and overlap with other indicators. A range of potential indicators were elaborated and evaluated, with the analysis showing there is no single all-encompassing indicator that meets all the requirements for monitoring value preservation for all R-strategies. The case studies considered showed that, at the micro-level, indicators can be elaborated for market price, product lifetime, gross added value and net costs/benefits, but each has its own pros and cons. At the macro-level, the indicators for gross added value and product lifetime appear to be most suitable and practical for rating value preservation. A number of relevant questions could not be covered in the present study, and further study of these issues is recommended.