Circle Economy adapts methodology of global circularity metric for nation states

June 20, 2019

Austria is first nation to measure Circularity Gap

Amsterdam, June 19th 2019 - Circle Economy and Alstoff Recycling Austria (ARA) today announce the release of Circularity Gap Report Austria, the first measure of circularity for a nation state. This landmark report paves the way for nations to lead the transition from a linear economy of Take-Make-Waste to a circular economy.

The analysis, commissioned by ARA, found a circularity rate for Austria of 9.7%, ahead of the  figure of 9.1% in Circle Economy’s Global Circularity Gap report published in January 2019. The Austria report will enable political and business leaders to identify and monitor the best interventions to boost the circularity rate, the proportion of materials that are recycled, re-used and re-manufactured in the Austrian economy.

Closing Austria’s circularity gap

The report estimates the improvements to be gained from four courses of action:

  1. Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable resources (boosting circularity to 9.9%)
  2. Recycling of all recyclable waste (18.8%)
  3. Maintaining current buildings and infrastructure by sourcing all construction materials from demolition of old building stocks (11.6%)
  4. Prioritising imports with a higher proportion of secondary content (20.1%).

Combined, these four actions can boost Austria’s circularity rate to an estimated 37.4%.

From global to national scans

Nation states can play a pivotal role in the global transition to a circular economy. Setting comprehensive national policies can drive global action, setting a benchmark for collaboration at multilateral level. The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 is testimony to the influence of national governments in setting an agenda for the United Nations.

Austria leads the way

Austria ranks as one of the global frontrunners in recycling. After four decades of policy interventions, 58% of all municipal waste is recycled. The Circularity Gap Austria identifies opportunities to radically reduce inputs of primary materials, including waste and emissions. This study, commissioned by ARA, demonstrates Austria’s determination to unlock new business opportunities as a frontrunner in the circular economy.

Hybrid methodology

Applying the methodology of the Global Circularity Gap Report to a national context, Circle Economy has focused on two parallel methodologies: a production-based analysis and a consumption-based analysis.

The production-based methodology tracks materials that are produced within a closed system. This analysis is comprehensive at a global scale, when the planet is in effect a closed system. When applied to a nation state, however, the production-based analysis will not include the full material footprint of imported goods.

The consumption-based methodology adapted from Circle Economy’s Global Circularity Gap Report tracks products across the entire supply chain. This analysis tracks material footprints across the globe, to measure the total material cost behind domestic consumption.

A landmark for national policy

The Circularity Gap Report Austria is the first of its kind. Its outcomes therefore have relevance beyond providing an agenda for Austria. As a contribution to the discourse on the measurement of circularity at national level, the report sets a precedent for other nations to steer effective collaboration in the realisation of a circular economy.


"Austria is taking a pioneering role in the transition to the circular economy. This Circularity Gap Report - Austria shows how Austria is performing as a country in comparison to the global average of 9,1%. In this epoch of climate breakdown, with profound societal and economic challenges, our vision of a circular economy is an inclusive, sustainable and future-proof model for development. We have done this work with hundreds of businesses and dozens of cities around the world. With this report commissioned by ARA, Austria becomes the first country to bring national perspective to this global debate. Austria has developed a strong social partnership over the years, with a strong record in recycling. We hope that all stakeholders - policymakers, industry, academia and civil society - will  build on the great ideas put forward in this report, and jointly map a path to faster and scalable action." -- Harald Friedl, CEO, Circle Economy

"Turning from the global to national level with Austria, we used a hybrid methodology bringing a greater focus on consumption to our assessment. Looking simply at production, we can track only what is produced in a system or enters as a finished product. Fine for the globe, but when focusing on a nation, such a model cannot account for materials used in production outside the state, the full material footprint of a product. By tracking products across the entire supply chain, even when their footprints criss cross the globe, we can measure the total material cost behind domestic consumption." -- Marc de Wit, lead strategic partnerships and consulting, Circle Economy

To download the report:

Media enquiries

For further information and to arrange interviews with the report’s authors, please contact Mark Ashurst at press@circle-economy.

About Circle Economy

Circle Economy works with cities and businesses to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and to close the Circularity Gap. An impact organisation, we identify opportunities to turn circular economy principles into practical reality.

Our work combines practical insights with scalable responses to achieve our vision of economic prosperity and societal balance within planetary boundaries. Our mission is to connect and empower a global community in business, cities and governments to create the conditions for systemic transformation.

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