28 May 2024

Several researchers from the Linköping University have participated in the work to develop the world’s first ISO standards for a circular economy. These will support companies and organisations in creating more resource-efficient solutions and thereby reduce the amount of waste. The goal is a more sustainable society.

Thor Balkhed

“We are pleased that our research can contribute to society’s efforts to achieve the global sustainable development goals and mitigate climate change and global warming,” says Professor Mattias Lindahl at the Department of Management and Engineering at Linköping University.

Intensive work has been ongoing around the world in recent years, and experts from around 100 countries have been involved. In addition to Mattias Lindahl, several researchers from LiU have participated, including Professor Tomohiko Sakao and Professor Erik Sundin. The work has been led by the Swedish Institute for standards (SIS).

LiU research has contributed knowledge

Mattias Lindahl and his colleagues have been involved in a number of different research projects that contributed knowledge when the standards were developed. These include the research environment Mistra REES, which has worked to find solutions for how a circular economy might work. Other examples include projects that explored how AI can be used to improve manufacturing and maintenance so that products last longer.

“This has been a fantastic way to integrate knowledge and results from our research projects in circular economy into the standards,” says Mattias Lindahl.

The new ISO standards set out the terms, concepts and principles of circular economy. They are to ensure that companies and organisations that want to move to a more circular business model have a common language in which to express themselves.

The standards also provide guidance on how companies can proceed to implement and develop circular business models and how results can be measured and evaluated.

High priority in the EU

“The standards provide an opportunity to systematically work to create more value for more people, but with fewer resources and less waste,” says Mattias Lindahl.

The circular transition is a high priority in the EU, but there is a great need for common guidelines and other guidance. The ISO standards are just a first step and work now continues. Following a proposal from the Swedish Institute for Standards (SIS), and with support from European member states, the European cooperation organisation CEN/TC 473 has committed to developing European standards for circular economy.


Examples of research projects in which LiU has participated: 

  • Mistra REESResource-Efficient and Effective Solutions based on circular economy thinking
  • Electrified Material Handling, Unity, Fit for the Future – How can Product-Service Systems business models change the way we do business?
  • Simon – New Application of AI for Services in Maintenance towards a Circular Economy
  • ERN– European Remanufacturing Network – coordinating and supporting European remanufacturers
  • SCANDERE– Scaling up a circular economy business model by new design, leaner remanufacturing, and automated material recycling technologies
  • RE:think– Rethink and improve product design and service cost for circular economy business models
  • Adapt 2030– Adaptive lifecycle design by applying digitalization and AI techniques to production


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