How to Deliver a Circular Economy Project that Pays Back: 4 Key Insights

Image: © HSSMI


What would you get out of a Circular Economy Bootcamp? Perhaps it involves a high-level and theoretical discussion on what “circular economy” actually means. But it could also be a rigorous series of exercises that make you think and get you motivated to change the way things work in your business and industry in a focused way. The reality is that at our Bootcamp you will get both.

But before we provide a quick overview of what our Bootcamps entail, it’s worth considering what the circular economy is and why it is important to businesses.

What is the circular economy and why does it matter in an industrial context?  

Circular economy encompasses a set of principles that drive various business concerns – product design, commercial models, user interactions, and supply chain management, to name a few – with the aim to replace the traditional linear model of “take, make, consume and dispose” with more circular and, ideally, sustainable models of production and consumption. Circular interventions should help a business reduce costs or increase revenue, while reducing waste or energy consumption and addressing critical aspects of business performance, such as risk, IP, or supply chain vulnerability.

Manufacturers have an incentive to implement circular solutions, in large part because rising input costs, resource volatility, and a need to reduce energy usage in the extraction of raw materials have led to a challenging business environment. Rising input costs and resource volatility make it difficult to deliver to increasingly demanding customers in a predictable fashion. The decreased availability of raw materials in combination with the need to cut costs on energy also make it difficult for manufacturers to deliver products cost-effectively. In the UK and in many other countries, prosperity and national security can depend on the access to resources or part supplies from politically unstable areas, or on resources that are becoming increasingly contested as sources of supply diminish. As a result, processes, technologies, collaborations, innovations, and supply chains that enable the circulation of valuable resources are becoming more important. Specifically, well-designed and thoughtfully implemented circular solutions can reduce risk, reduce cost, improve operational efficiency, and protect IP.

For example, according to the World Economic Forum and the Global Battery Alliance, the increased demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is projected to require extracting raw materials equivalent to more than 300 times the Great Pyramids of Giza (in volume), a fifteen-fold increase in active materials required to produce batteries, and 120 additional operational Giga Factories. This in turn is projected to require a fifteen-fold increase in recycling capability. These figures are relevant to UK manufacturers of EVs because, as demand goes up, so will the demand for lithium, copper, and other critical raw materials that need to be sourced from abroad, often from countries that represent higher political risk. Manufacturers are also obligated to dispose of these batteries correctly based on the principles of producer responsibility. There is thus an incentive for UK manufacturers of EVs to actively participate in the design of supply chains to promote the recycling, remanufacture, or second life of EV batteries, because these circular value chains will represent greater control over critical raw materials, as well as reduced costs in procuring and disposing of them.

The construction sector is also increasingly gripped by the necessity to become more circular, as the sourcing of steel, cement, and other raw materials becomes increasingly challenging. Currently, circular innovations in construction include the construction of modular buildings and the use of recycled concrete in order to reduce waste and transportation costs. Ramboll’s 2019 Sustainable Buildings Market Study also documents that investments in energy and water efficient solutions result in savings in operating costs, such as cleaning or maintenance. In addition, higher quality construction results in higher property values, higher rent levels, and lower vacancy rates.

As the globe becomes gripped by COVID-19, the need for more resilient and less vulnerable supply chains and business models becomes increasingly apparent. Circular economy is key to addressing these challenges.

HSSMI created the Circular Economy Bootcamp as a way of bridging the gap between circular economy theory and practice for today’s leaders in manufacturing, construction, and innovation. We wanted to create a forum where business leaders could not only learn the principles of circular economy but could traverse the implementation gap and generate an achievable path forward in implementing specific circular changes into their business.

What is the Circular Economy Bootcamp?   

The purposes of the Bootcamp are:

– to provide an overview of circular economy with a focus on the industrial environment.
– to show how the Circular Economy Maturity Assessment (CEMA) can be used to generate roadmaps to get your business on the way to becoming more circular.
– to share successful examples of circular economy businesses and practice to help illuminate the opportunities.
– to develop the circular economy network in the UK. 


“This is an excellent, well presented and well-structured workshop.
I attended with the aim of understanding how
I might start to instil
planning for the circular economy
into my business and I was not
disappointed.  The
introduction is professional and thought
Even better though are the case studies which
depth and colour. The level of audience participation
is pitched just at the right level.”
– Dr Andrew Nurse, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre

The Bootcamp begins with an overview of circular economy – its history, drivers, accelerators, and examples. We then transition into some case studies based on our own experience delivering and advising on a range of circular economy projects. Before lunch, we use our HSSMI-developed roadmapping software to create a digital roadmap that aims to get a sample company from a lower circular economy assessment score to a higher score in a defined time frame.

After lunch, attendees apply an abridged version of our Circular Economy Maturity Assessment (CEMA) to their own company; this can be done solo or in groups. Attendees score their companies based on the following principles:

– Systems thinking
– Innovation
– Stewardship
– Collaboration
– Value optimisation
– Transparency

Collectively, each person or group reviews their scores and then begins an exercise to scope out a project that can increase this score. Attendees leave with the beginnings of a scoped project to increase their circularity, a copy of the abridged version of the Circular Economy Maturity Assessment, a copy of the digital roadmap, and membership to HSSMI’s exclusive online Circular Economy Network.


“The CE bootcamp, run by HSSMI, was extremely informative
with excellent quality presentations and
thought provoking, well
moderated group exercises.  I
would definitely recommend the
Bootcamp to other
professionals in the waste and recycling sector.”
– Howard Bluck, British Metals Recycling Association

What were the main insights of the Circular Economy Bootcamp?  

Our most recent Bootcamps yielded the following insights:

– Circular economy is a concept with big ambitions, but the biggest rewards are reaped when projects are scoped well, highly detailed, and with SMART targets.

– Some manufacturers are already doing “circular economy” activities but do not realise they can call them this, because they arose from other spheres (e.g. efficiency improvements). They are missing out on an opportunity to maximise on their brand, but also to share expertise with other companies who may be doing similar activities.

– While the construction industry is quite regulated and some drivers toward circularity are regulatory incentives and / or restrictions, manufacturers are less impacted by regulation. Thus, the manufacturing industry can be more directly impacted by the raw economic drivers toward circularity (e.g. resource volatility and scarcity) but are also better able to construct and reap the rewards.

– Some circular economy interventions are closely linked with the commercial model of the company, while others are not. For example, some circular economy initiatives involve the selling of a product as a service; while others are centred around the redesign of a product which will still be sold as a product.


“As society increases its focus on sustainability and reduction of CO2,
it has never been more important to have a robust
methodology to
assess where your organisation currently
sits with respect to Circular
and where it is heading. HSSMI have developed a sound
approach and a really great Bootcamp training day,
that provides you
with the tools and questions required to make that assessment. The CE
Bootcamp was insightful
and engaging, and I would recommend it to any
or organisation looking to begin their CE journey or looking
to understand how mature they are in the current landscape.”
– Graeme McLaughlin, University of Strathclyde 

We would love to engage with you, whether you are a novice or an old hand at circular economy!  

Our next Bootcamp will be on April 14. It will be hosted online and at a reduced price due to the restrictions being implemented to fight the spread of COVID-19. The session will be just as interactive and dynamic as an in-person workshop, and will also include information on the effect of COVID-19 on the circular economy. Please register and purchase tickets on this link After the event, you will get access to the materials and tools used in the Bootcamp, which you can then use and adapt with your teams. For any questions, please get in touch with me at

You are also welcome to get in touch with me if you would like to undergo a full, two-day version of the Circular Economy Maturity Assessment (CEMA). A shortened version of this assessment is used in the Bootcamp, but the full version necessitates active engagement for 2 days and results in a detailed roadmap fully tailored to and owned by your business.

The Circular Economy team at HSSMI is proud to deliver other services including but not limited to Life Cycle Analysis, supply chain mapping, waste audits, process design, and design for disassembly consultations. Please get in touch with me for a discussion on how we can best approach your business’ most challenging problems.


For more news, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn or sign up to our newsletter.

Written by:

Savina Venkova


Contact us today for a short initial conversation on how HSSMI can help your organisation achieve its strategic goals.

I confirm that I have read and agree to HSSMI Privacy Policy & GDPR Statement


Click on the button below to explore our solution areas.