CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Avoiding blind spots – circular and fair business models

This project is a collaboration between Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO), which represents the Fair Trade Movement, and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) a federation of environmental NGOs. The objective is to identify the risks of new business models, i.e. what are their blind spots in terms of the environment and society, both in the EU and in global supply chains. The output should identify negative and positive examples and make recommendations about ways forward to key targets (see below).
The aim is to improve the debate about what shape circular business models should take (e.g. sharing platforms, leasing models, reuse, repair and recycling activities) in order to deliver positive environmental and social outcomes, both in Europe and through their value chains in the Global South.

Content of the work

1. What are the hopes for the circular economy?

  • Environmental – delivering genuine resource savings or supporting waste prevention through different actions (such as repair, reuse, leasing, etc.)
  • Socioeconomic – delivering on several issues such as job creation, social enterprise, supporting local SMEs, increasing resilience in supply chains, security of supply, lower life cycle cost for public authorities, etc.

Methods: primarily literature review as positive aspects are already well covered in existing research on circular economy. This should provide context or a framing for the work rather than being the overall focus.

2. What are the risks and blind spots

  • Environmental – new business models do not deliver genuine resource savings, e.g. still support replacement over repair/reuse, represents new consumption or a rebound effect rather than displacing existing linear consumption models (hypothetical example 1: e-scooter sharing systems do not deliver emissions or resource savings compared to BAU for urban transport; hypothetical example 2: leasing providers for smartphones do not repair damaged phones from clients and therefore do not improve material stewardship; 3: a take-back scheme from a fashion brand results in an increase in sales of fast fashion) 4: Downcycling of packaging waste into trainers which does not reduce demand for virgin plastics.
  • Socio-economic – rely on problematic work contracts, monopolies, and additional expense for consumers and public authorities, risk of making “supply chain” production conditions (sustainable farming of cotton in India or West Africa, working conditions of garment manufacturing in East Asia) less visible for final consumer or public procurer. Attention should be given to risk in Europe and outside of the EU. (hypothetical example, 1: e-scooter sharing systems rely on workers with precarious employment contracts; hypothetical example 2: a professional repair program from a smartphone manufacturer monopolises the market and pushes independent actors out of competitiveness; 3: a leasing model for linen for hotels uses unsustainable textiles and relies on precarious contracts for those carrying out the washing; 4: Airbnb having a considerable adverse effect of raising rent prices and pushing locals out of their communities.)

Methods: literature review and input from stakeholders (e.g. consultation in the workshops). Please see the suggested reading section for recommended literature. This should be the primary focus of the analysis along with the recommendations.

3. Recommendations

Develop recommendations on how to address or minimise these risks and realise opportunities. Recommendations should be focused at the target audience (i.e. policy makers, businesses and public authorities, as well as civil society). The recommendations should be set in the context of the EU’s existing policy landscape (the new EU budget, the Green Deal, the circular economy action plan etc.)

4. Scope

We suggest that the scope should focus on the following sectors or product groups:
– ICT and electronics
– Textiles
– A mix of consumer products, B2B and public procurement
Examples outside of this scope may be relevant when they are particularly relevant for supporting recommendations. We suggest focusing on 3 or 4 specific examples in detail. The choice of examples should be agreed with the consultant following their suggestions in their proposal.

Date of publication of tender: Thursday 18 June 2020

Deadline: Friday 10 July 2020. Do not hesitate to contact the EEB or FTAO if you have questions prior to the deadline.

Please download the complete call for tender below and submit your proposal for this work in English to Diego Marin, by email

These should include the following:
– A max 2 pager outlining your vision for the work, including the specific examples you suggest exploring and any relevant literature
– CVs of the staff or individuals in your team (demonstrating relevant experience in circular economy and EU policy)
– A simple budget for the work

Disclaimer: The EEB will inform all bidders about the EEB’s decision in relation to their bid. Bidders may ask for feedback on their bid. However, the EEB’s decision will be considered as final, full details will not necessarily be disclosed and there is no possibility of appeal.