What if there was a Big Mac index for circularity?

Climate change is upon us and we all need to act together in big and small ways to create a regenerative world for future generations to thrive in. Circular economy is one of the ways to transform our systems of production and consumption to be more restorative and reduce material use.

Most of us have encountered The Big Mac index — the purchasing power parity measurement between currencies. What if we were to have a new, similar and very simple way for ourselves as consumers to make the right choices of goods and services from a circularity perspective, i.e. to help consumers make informed decisions leading to a more sustainable world, with the notion that in the long term the resource utilization impact of the product moves to be within the planetary boundaries. As designers, we highlight the following five requirements from such an index to get one step closer to this topic.

1. An index has to change consumer behavior
A circularity-index does not have any impact until the consumer sees it on a product and makes better choices based on this.

2. The existing measurement indicators are incomplete
CO2-equivalents and similar measurements are often too complex for us as consumers to understand and are not inclusive of other planetary boundaries.

3. An index does not have to be precise
One must not underestimate the social and ethical impacts that such an index could have. Fair trade is an example that ascends its merely environmental certification towards wider reaching impacts. The methodology though needs to be transparent and build trust.

4. It would benefit from being based upon a well-known phenomenon
The price of a Big Mac works as an index thanks to its familiarity. Anyone can relate to the McDonalds burger (even if they claim never eating any ;-)

5. This would need industry wide collaboration
Pioneering companies will need to collaborate with each other to lead the change that is needed in the world towards a regenerative future.

Complex wicked problems require new ways of thinking and cross disciplinary collaborations for finding promising pathways to solutions. In today’s uncertain world we need to try different ways forward and learn through them as we go along and iterate by adjusting to new circumstances. A web of overlapping solutions is what will lead us to a transformed world. We are working towards a portfolio of possible approaches and invite you into the conversation.

This is design thinking for the near future – to be applied already by today’s businesses.

February 14, 2022
Want to know more?
Get in touch with:
Jonas Svennberg
+46 704 20 77 39
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