Circular IQ Brings Circular Economy Closer, Using Data management

October 19, 2017

“The Circular Economy is about getting things done in a smarter way and give opportunity for value creation and growth. It is sustainable and profitable.” Roy Vercoulen, co-founder of Circular IQ, which delivers software to help companies use circular thinking in their workflow.

How would you describe Circular IQ in one tweet?

“Easy-to-implement software tool which improves the transparency of the total supply chain, making it possible for companies to measure the sustainability of products and materials that they buy and sell.”I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

What does it do?

“With Circular IQ we bring the Circular Economy closer. Companies use the software to inspect their supply chain and see the degree of sustainability in a glance. Next to the insight on how Circular your company is, the software generates clear and presentable analytics to download and share with whoever you want.”

Where do you get the sustainability data from?

“Circular IQ is an IT-solution which makes ‘circular purchasing’ accessible and easy. This benefits the Circular Economy. The suppliers fill in the database. After uploading and authorizing the datasheet, it will be encrypted, just like in a blockchain, to safely share the data. The buyer can easily select the data. It is like completing a survey and selecting what you think is important, for example: Social aspects, Water and Energy.”

What do you mean with ‘circular purchasing’?

“Buying durable products, which are easy to take apart and ideally can be re-used unlimitedly, without waste. Circular Economy starts with design of purchase. If the buyer starts asking questions about the origin, safety and re-usability of everything they buy, the whole system will change. That sounds like common sense, but a lot of buyers and sales persons do not have the knowledge, skills or intention to investigate what exactly is inside the product. Aside the ‘price and quality’, ‘safety and Circularity’ should come along.”

How does your idea help buyers?

“Circular IQ stimulates the whole chain to look further in a circular way. It is important to ask in the survey up front transparent questions about re-use.”

Where do you get those questions from?

“From the best-in-class-standards, such as C2C Certified and the Global Reporting Initiative. For example: Out of which components is the product composed? Can the supplier take it back? Does it have a residual value? Can it really be taken apart?”

Do you have competitors? What makes Circular IQ unique?

“There are currently no other companies doing exactly what we do. Of course, there is Ecovadis and a lot of sustainability standards, but Circular IQ is the only platform where a buyer can review all leading sustainability standards and criteria. Moreover, we work with third parties, such as Lloyd’s Register, to independently check uploaded data. Another difference is the free environment that all suppliers of the value chain get to safely collect their data, without paying for this tool.

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In your opinion, what is the relationship of Cradle-to-Cradle and sustainability?

“Sustainability is mostly about not doing things or in a less harmful way: saving water, energy and raw materials. Wear a sweater instead of turning up the temperature. Cradle-to-cradle is about dealing with things in a smarter way and give space for value creation and growth. It is sustainable and profitable.”

Why should companies increase their Circular IQ? Because of the environment or do companies contact you also to save money?

“Both. More people ask for sustainability and more data is accessible. Good data management is mostly not there yet, while customers, media and politics more often ask questions. With our software, you save time and be able to have a faster risk assessment within the value chain that is better manageable. But besides that, you just build a well-grounded sustainability strategy which is easy to communicate.”I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

What do they need to do for that?

“Sustainability information is badly organized in companies: separate Excel sheets, e-mail and all kind of tools. They spend more and more time on them, but are not becoming smarter or better. Currently, we try to set them in the right direction, but also to make forecasts for the near and further future.”

Can you give some examples of how marketers could use Circular IQ?

“The current way of working gives almost no possibilities for flashy marketing. In my opinion, the way companies communicate about sustainability is quite boring. For example, by making extensive reports about a product. Very focused on sending. How cool would it be if you really get to the point people want to know about a product they use?”

How is this possible with Circular IQ?

“We start from consumer questions. In the internet on social media are numerous consumer questions. For example, for a sustainable water bottle manufacturer: ‘How much drinking water do you consume to produce the bottles?’ The manufacturer does not know the answer to this question, but this is exactly the type of question we answer with the software. Measurable sustainability is specific and business-savvy.”

What is your main market?

“Circular IQ is currently shifting from a minimum viable product to a product ready for growth. Customers are among  Bolsius, Facilicom, Ahrend, Van Wijnen, ABN AMRO and Rijkswaterstaat”

What are their experiences?

“We have constant contact with consumers to keep improving our product. What was striking was that we expected our customers to want Circular IQ as a dashboard. But in practice, they want facts and numbers on how circular the product is instead of how the supplier scores. Customers want to show specifically the sustainability of a product. Our downloads summarize this in one clear overview.”

Who are ‘we’?

Claire Teurlings and I founded Circular IQ. She has a software background and we found each other in search for a solution to help companies to think circular in their way of working. Recently Edo Lagendijk joined.”

What was your personal motivation to join the adventure?

“Before I worked for Cradle to Cradle Certified. There, I saw how cool circular concepts are, but also the complexity to work with it as a company. The standard now is that they get a certificate for a sustainable product. Which is nice, but I want to go a step further. I want to bridge the difference between all certificates and let the consumer and user make an educated choice.”

What is your business model? 

“We work with subscriptions and an implementation fee for trainings and configurations for our customers. But we are looking into a transaction-based model, where you pay for extra functions, such as downloads, benchmarks or your own filters.”

You are in the finals of AIA17. How do you look back at getting here?

“In the semifinals, we had to pitch for one minute to the jury. This gave us two golden and one blue tickets and now we are a finalist. That already feels great, but now we definitely want to win! Also during the AIA process, we get a lot of compliments for the software, especially the ease of implementing it in existing business processes.”

When are you satisfied?

“We want to stimulate the growth and have as much data as possible online. For this goal, we search for large-scale leading circular tenders and companies with complex value chains, such as IKEA or Philips. If their buyers will ask for information about circularity, we will generate an impact we could not reach before.”

* This article belongs to the series for the Accenture Innovation Awards (AIA), which I wrote in collaboration with Eline van Vliet. Circular IQ is finalist in the category Circular Economy.

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