Technical standards contribute to harmonising circular economy practices and processes, facilitating the adoption of more sustainable and efficient practices by economic stakeholders.


A standard is a document that sets out technical specifications, rules or guidelines for products, processes and services. These standards are formulated by consensus by experts from economic, commercial and scientific fields, and are published by nationally and internationally recognised bodies.

Standards play an important part in promoting a circular economyThe circular economy is a restorative and regenerative economy. By maintaining the value of the products, materials and resources in the economy through smart product design, repurposing and/or shared use of products, it reduces the extraction of natural resources by using resources already present in the economy.. They harmonise practices, processes and products. There are several types of standards, including:

  • Design standards: these promote the design of more sustainable, reusable, and recyclable products. For instance, ISO 14006 provides specific guidelines for incorporating environmental aspects into product design and development.
  • Application standards: these stimulate the reuseReuse designates all operations by which substances, materials or products that are not waste are used again in an identical way to their originally intended purpose. or use of recycled products for high-value applications, mainly in construction.
  • Environmental management standards: these promote the use of products that meet environmental and social criteria. For instance, ISO 14001 specifies the criteria for environmental management and the reduction of environmental impact.
  • Waste management standards: these ensure more efficient practices for the collection, sorting, reuse, and recyclingAny recovery operation through which waste, including organic waste, is reprocessed to become substances, materials or products that can be used for their initial function or other functions. of waste. For instance, ISO 14021¬†specifies requirements for the use of environmental symbols and claims on products.
  • Reporting standards: these facilitate transparency and accountability in resource and waste management. For instance, ISO 14064 specifies the principles and requirements for the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.

Further reading

Find out more about standardisation.