Both Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a tool and Circular Economy as a concept work towards sustainable development, only that both approaches are currently done individually: one assessment doesn’t include the other.

Circularity indicators can benefit hugely from a life cycle perspective, where circularity is considered not only in the last production stages but from the very beginning of raw material extraction. However, there is no current well-rounded solution for the integration of both, even though there have been initiatives from common LCA software. A lack of perspective of the overall picture of a product’s supply chain, or a lack of a good way to quantify circularity can very easily lead to misleading ideas over a good circular decision, or very bluntly: greenwashing.


Circularity Packages for openLCA

As part of the research project TRIPLELINK, funded by EIT Raw Materials, GreenDelta has been working on the implementation of Circularity with Life Cycle Assessment. The result is already available for the public:

  • The Circularity Package for openLCA based in ecoinvent [1].
  • The Circularity Food Package for openLCA based in Agribalyse [2].

Both packages consist of an LCA database adapted to trace circularity, an LCIA Method for circularity, and an extension of openLCA to allow for further input variables and calculation of circularity indicators.

The two circularity indicators used are:

  • The Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) proposed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and ANSYS Granta takes into account material flows [3]
  • Circularity Index (CI) proposed by J. M. Cullen takes into account material flows and also the energy required for primary vs. secondary material production [4]

How to acquire the packages?

Acquire the package through openLCA Nexus.

Read the report here.

Acquire the package through openLCA Nexus.

Read the report here, or watch the YouTube presentation webinar, both include a practical case study.


[1] ecoinvent:

[2] Agribalyse:

[3] Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) Methodology,” 2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 18 April 2023].

[4] J. Cullen, “Theoretical Benchmark or Perpetual Motion Machine?,” Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21, pp. 483-486, 2017.