Unit 3 Assess

Now that you have a first picture of your operating environment, it is time to dig deeper into your current organisational operations. The objective of this phase is to assess your circularity gap: define your strengths and weaknesses, assess the key material flows used in your organisations and prioritize which aspects you should consider to make your organisation more circular.

  Guiding questions: 

  • Do you monitor existing environmental impacts of your organization?
  • Do you have an existing assessment of the circularity practices in place within your organizations? Do you know how the circular economy might prove relevant for your business in the long run?
  • What exactly does the circular economy entail for your products, value chain, applications, etc.?
  • What potential value are you striving to generate? What do you and your company consider to be important?

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/uOhBxB23Wao

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and so a SWOT Analysis is a technique for assessing these four aspects of your organization’s business.

You can use SWOT Analysis to make the most of what you’ve got, to your organization’s best advantage. And you can reduce the chances of failure, by understanding what you’re lacking, and eliminating hazards that would otherwise catch you unawares. Better still, you can start to craft a strategy that distinguishes you from your competitors, and so compete successfully in your market.

Download  this template to kick off this activity.


Developing circular practices and business models that integrate circular principles is not straightforward. Companies in different sectors including the tourism and hospitality sector have different drivers, but also experience diverse barriers to innovating business models.

Understanding the key drivers and barriers to develop circularity in your organization is an important step to frame your strategy. The goal in this assessment will be brainstorm on how to enhance existing drivers while devising strategies to reduce possible barriers.

Download the following template to assess the relevance of the barriers and drivers.

The purpose of Ecomapping is to provide small companies and organisations with a free, visual, simple and practical tool to analyse and manage their behaviour and practices in relation to the environment. It involves making a map of an organisation’s site, for example, a hotel facility, a restaurant, an office,  to create an understanding of an organisation’s current environmental situation.

Ecomapping is not a goal itself, but a process framework that helps to define and prioritise environmental problems and issues to act upon. Once completed, Ecomapping can serve as the basis for a wider environmental management system, and in our case to assess the circularity gap of your organisation.

Ecomapping has several functions as:

  • An inventory of environmental practices and problems;
  • A systematic method of conducting an on-site environmental review and audit;
  • A tool that allows employee involvement and participation;
  • An easy way to document and track environmental improvements;
  • A catalogue of immediate small positive actions;
  • As 80% of the environmental problems are related to a specific location, ecomapping the organisation’s facilities and offices is very useful to show clearly which environmental nuisance occurs and where it does.

Step 1 Get a site plan of your facility

 This map should be copied (6 times) and will be the basis for the work to be done. The various inside areas should appear on it. 

The Ecomaps must reflect a real situation: they must be clear, recognizable and proportional. They must be dated, identified and referenced.

They must include one or two relevant objects to know quickly where you are on the map (ex: machines, boiler…).

Step 2 Map and highlight good and bad practices

Gather a team of staff to perform the assessment. Beyond providing a set of relevant information on your environmental practices, Ecomapping is also a tool for awareness raising and communication

When Ecomapping your site, you will visit your facilities using one specific lens at a time (Energy, water, waste, air, soil, risks) to identify aspects that impact the environment and resources use. Each environmental aspect will be collected on one map.

When identifying an issue during your visit, you may draw your own symbols on the map but use at least the two following one: 

  • Hatches: small problem (area to monitor, problem to study)
  • Circle: serious problem (stop, corrective action)

The more serious the problem, the bigger and thicker the circle. You may also highlight the existing good practices by using various colours.

For further information, access Ecomapping guidelines in detail.

Beyond analysing specific eco-behaviours happening within your organisation that may influence your circularity potential, it is also relevant to gather more quantitative data to help you measure your circularity baseline.

By doing so, you will also be able to prioritize areas of improvement and clarify your goals and objectives when developing a circular action plan.

Choose the right assessment tool. A  variety of tools and methodologies exist to quantify your environmental impact and to address how circular your operations are.

  1. Environmental calculators

Several tools and calculators have been developed in the last decade to assess company’s impact on climate change, on water use, etc. Carbon footprint and water footprint calculators may be highly relevant for the Tourism industry. The following tools are free to use online and can help you set up an initial baseline, depending on your measurement objectives.

✔ Green key carbon footprint calculator:

 If you are a hotel or other type of accommodation, you can calculate your carbon footprint using the carbon calculation tool below. The carbon calculation follows the “Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative” (HMCI) tool developed by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) in partnership with World Travel & Tourism Council. Currently, more than 24,000 hotels have already been calculating their carbon calculation footprint using the HCMI tool. ITP, in cooperation with Greenview, has  also developed a benchmarking system, where you can compare your carbon footprint result with the average carbon footprint of your area. Access the tool here.

Hotel Carbon measurement initiative:

Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) is a free methodology and tool for hotels to calculate the carbon footprint of hotel stays and meetings in their properties. Access the tool here.

Green Key water footprint calculator:

If you are a hotel or other type of accommodation, you can calculate your water footprint using the water calculation tool below. The water calculation follows the “Hotel Water Measurement Initiative” (HWMI) tool developed by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP). Access the tool here.

  1. Circular economy measuring tools

Specific tools go beyond environmental impact assessment and integrate the concept of circular economy as a framework:


Circulytics supports a company’s transition towards the circular economy, regardless of industry, complexity, and size. Going beyond assessing products and material flows, this company-level measuring tool reveals the extent to which a company has achieved circularity across its entire operations. It does this by using the widest set of indicators currently available: enablers and outcomes.


  • Measures a company’s entire circularity, not just products and material flows
  • Supports decision making and strategic development for circular economy adoption
  • Demonstrates strengths and highlights the areas for improvement
  • Provides optional transparency to investors and customers about a company’s circular economy adoption
  • Delivers unprecedented clarity about circular economy performance, opening up new opportunities to generate brand value with key stakeholders

Access the tool here. Watch an introduction video

The Circularity Check:

The Circularity Check is a free online scan with a questionnaire of about 60 questions that determines a circularity score for a specific product and/or service in any sector. It was developed by Ecopreneur and MVO Nederland as a self-assessment tool for SMEs and has 500+ existing users, including large companies. Access the tool here.

Material circularity indicator:

The Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) tool, which is part of a broader ‘Circular Indicators Project’ developed by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Granta Design, allows companies to identify additional, circular value from their products and materials, and mitigate risks from material price volatility and material supply. Integrated with the MI: Product Intelligence package, MCI enables users to analyse and evaluate a range of environmental, regulatory, and supply chain risks for their designs and products.

MCI measures how restorative the material flows of a product, which can be aggregated up to product portfolio, and even further up to company level. Complementary indicators allow additional impacts and risks to be taken into account. The indicators may be used by product designers, as well as for internal reporting, procurement decisions, and the evaluation or rating of companies. Access the tool here.

Materiality are “those topics that have a direct or indirect impact on an organization’s ability to create, preserve or erode economic, environmental and social value for itself, its stakeholders and society at large” (Global reporting initiative). In other words, a materiality analysis is a method to identify and prioritize the issues that are most important to an organization and its stakeholders. When assessing your circularity gap, you may be able to prioritize specific areas of improvement. Nevertheless, priorities and hot topics may be different from your stakeholders perspective. It will then become strategic to confront your priorities with the ones of your stakeholders (think about your clients for instance).

Materiality means analysing which issues are the most important of being addressed by your organization. After identifying potential sustainability issues thought to be directly relevant to an organization’s value chain, these issues are analysed using 2 different lenses. For issues such as reducing plastic packaging or working with sustainable suppliers, the organization needs to evaluate:

1) what’s the potential of each issue to positively or negatively impact organizational growth, cost, or trust and

2) how important is each issue to stakeholders.

The ultimate result is a visual representation of which issues should be prioritized according to their importance to the company’s success and stakeholders’ expectations (that can directly affect the first).  As a result of this analysis, you will be able to create your long-term circular strategy.

A materiality analysis and the materiality matrix that results from it allows an organization to decide on which sustainability issues to focus on and invest time in. The materiality matrix showcases these sustainability issues by contrasting two dimensions. One is the importance of the issue to the organization regarding the expected influence this issue will have on the organization’s success. The second is the importance or attractiveness of the issue to stakeholders and the likely influence they might have, as a result of the working efforts (or lack of them) on this issue, on business success.

Have a look at this quick video summarizing materiality.

Download the matrix here to kick off this activity.