European Commission recognizes the importance of circular design for businesses


Dutch CIRCO method for circular design ends up third in EEPA.

Monisha van Heteren


The CIRCO approach, with a focus on circular design, has now been officially acknowledged by the European Commission as an effective method for guiding businesses towards circular practices. This was made evident last Tuesday during the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2023 ceremony, where CIRCO secured a spot in the top three sustainable transition programs. The Dutch program, facilitated by CLICKNL and supported by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, empowers companies and designers to (re)design their products, services, and business models for circular entrepreneurship.

The nomination for the award, an initiative of the European Commission, serves as recognition for the growth achieved by CIRCO, involving 2,000 companies and 800 professionals from the creative sector who participated in the program. Since 2015, a growing number of businesses have been trained with  the CIRCO method to embrace circular entrepreneurship. In a short period, they learn from CIRCO trainers how to make significant steps in upgrading  their product, service, or business model. This knowledge is imparted through three half-day workshops, where participants engage in discussions with others in their production chain.


Despite increasing interest in the circular economy, many businesses struggle to take concrete steps, with the subject often getting lost in the daily grind. The emphasis on the design phase is crucial, as over 80 percent of all product-related environmental impacts are determined here. New knowledge is often required, demanding an investigative approach to the entire organization and production chain. Simultaneously, the urgency is clear due to societal issues such as resource scarcity, the climate crisis, and rising costs. Circular design not only addresses these challenges but also helps companies innovate, reduce their footprint, and become future-proof.

Sustainable Growth

The recognition of the CIRCO approach in Europe is attributed, in part, to the increasing number of partners in various European countries. The approach’s popularity and results are on the rise. Pieter van Os, Program Manager CIRCO International, expressed his content, stating, “We are delighted with this acknowledgment from the European Commission because we hope it will encourage even more companies to see that reducing their footprint and increasing their competitiveness go hand in hand. This is exactly what we have been striving to bring together since the beginning of the program.”

Collaboration with Regional Partners

A key strength of CIRCO lies in its decentralized collaboration with regional partners who implement the method locally. They facilitate companies within the local context while also strengthening each other through the exchange of knowledge and experiences. Currently, partners in more than 20 countries are utilizing the CIRCO method, with successful outcomes. For instance, in Portugal, it has been integrated into the national Circular Economy Action Program. In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, partner EFA plans to train a substantial portion of all manufacturing companies with the CIRCO method over the next 5 years. The budget for this initiative has even tripled, supported by State Minister Oliver Krischer for Environment, Conservation, and Transportation. The network of regional partners is expanding and becoming more intricate. In 2023, partners in Croatia, Slovenia, and several German regions will undergo training, with the goal of adding new partners in 2024 as well.

Curious about which European countries are working with the CIRCO method?
Check the overview below or check the international page.

  • Germany; – Baden Württemberg (Karlsruhe) 
  • Germany: Saksen (Leipzig) 
  • Wallonia; Namur Belgium
  • Austria; (Tirol)
  • Croatia; Zagreb (start jan 2024)
  • Slovenia; Ljubljana
  • Slovakia;
  • Estonia:
  • Portugal; Lisbon 
  • Turkey;
  • Visegrad-landen (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland;
  • Spain; Madrid. 
Monisha van Heteren
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