Americas Hold Workshop on ISO Circular Economy Standard Development

Circular economy is a concept that is gaining traction on a global basis. It is as much a mindset as it is a methodology. Circular thinking emphasizes redesigning products in terms of reuse, recycling, and repurposing up front, with the goal of eliminating traditional disposal at the end of life – much different than business as usual. Many say now is the time to transition from a linear economy to an economy based on circularity.

Approaching One Year of ISO’s Technical Committee on Circular Economy

Approximately one year ago, the process of developing an ISO international standard for circular economy began with an inaugural meeting led by the French Standardization Association (AFNOR). Since then, more than 50 countries (including the U.S.) have contributed to discussions on a global scale to provide input to the development of an ISO standard. The U.S. delegation was formed under ANSI and ASTM in 2019 and is led by elected co-chairs Alison Conroy of Georgia Pacific and Mike Levy of First Environment. What do they have to say about how the process is going so far?


“We have 57 member countries participating, and another 12 observing members, and the dialogue among the four ad-hoc groups established to develop the standards is moving forward,” says Levy. “There are many differing viewpoints on the principles, framework, terminology, and metrics to measure circularity, but one thing is clear: there’s a lot of interest in moving forward to develop a global circular economy standard.” This is reinforced by the full value chain in the marketplace, where many already have announced goals and targets to meet the challenges of a circular economy.

Harnessing the Pan American Standards Commission

In April 2020, the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) hosted a virtual workshop on circular economy with the support of ISO. COPANT is a regional organization that provides virtual training on key issues to its members throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. Thirty-eight delegates representing sixteen national standards bodies from the Americas participated in the session, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Panama, and the United States.


Both Alison Conroy and Mike Levy of the U.S. delegation participated in the workshop, which included key presentations on how circular economy presents challenges and opportunities for the Americas. Luis Trama of IRAM (Argentina) and Derek Luk Pat of Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBC) discussed ISO’s current activities and urged COPANT members to get involved and work within their countries to better understand circular economy concepts and how they could be implemented.


“It was important for Alison and me, as representatives of the U.S. delegation, to get a better sense of the broad diversity of the Americas when it comes to circular economy and global standards,” says Mike Levy. “While the U.S. is very involved in providing input to the Ad-hoc Working Groups through our U.S. representatives, it’s good to also be part of a broader regional effort that takes into consideration many viewpoints and differing economies” he added. This kind of regional coordination and information sharing is critical to developing a standard that’s practical and relevant to people around the world.


COPANT’s workshop educated their members on the very latest activities from the global ISO circular economy standards activity. Two active members from Argentina and Trinidad and Tobago shared observations on the challenges and opportunities related to implementing circular economy practices in their respective countries and the region as a whole. We hope the success of this event will lead to more opportunities for collaboration among the Americas as the global standard for circular economy evolves and becomes a part of our mindset for the future.

Support the U.S. Delegation on Circular Economy

We look forward to working together with the nearly 60 countries that will be involved in the next important steps, including developing Working Groups from the ad-hoc groups, draft materials, and eventually a global standard on circular economy.


For anyone in the U.S. who would like to be part of these efforts or learn more, please contact us or reach out to the ASTM committee lead. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute directly to sustainability practices related to business, environmental, and social factors across the globe.

Additional Resources

View the following materials for more information:

COPANT Press Release

ISO TC 323 Circular Economy


Mike Levy, CLE

Senior Associate

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Mike Levy is a chemical and plastics industry executive and life cycle expert with more than 40 years of diverse experience. He has overseen new recycling and recovery technology for the plastics industry; conducted health, safety, and life cycle assessment (LCA) studies, coordinated government relations activities; and led stakeholders from government and industry organizations as part of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO’s) LCA standard development. Notably, he authored the executive guide for LCA titled “How to Know if and When it’s Time to Commission a Life Cycle Assessment,” which serves as the basis for the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment’s (ACLCA’s) Certified Lifecycle Executive (CLE) certification. Mike spent a significant portion of his career in the chemical and steel industries supporting long term strategic goals. His tenure at the American Chemistry Council (ACC) involved spearheading advocacy efforts for new technologies, life cycle policy activities, and education programs promoting recycling. Mike has also contributed to the development of international standards, including serving on ISO’s working groups on environmental management activities as well as the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI’s) subcommittee on life cycle assessment. His most recent assignments include supporting corporate initiatives to address life cycle issues and develop circular economy practices. He also provides third party assessments for organizations to benchmark internal practices with industry best practices and/or standards.