Benchmarking is a marketing technique developed in the early 1980s, and it consists
of studying and analyzing the management methods and organizational techniques to utilize,
improve, and draw inspiration from existing practices. Benchmarking might be internal –
comparing two similar processes or the entire enterprise over time, or external – comparing
the enterprise to collaborator and/or competitors and glean an understanding of what makes
them successful. But who’s to say benchmarking should be limited to business management?
Benchmarking itself is a diverse practice, as the following examples show:
The Elixir platform is internationally recognized and comprised of three leaderships located
in Spain, France and Germany, and divided into four missions led by several leaders across
Europe. It offers scientific communities tools to analyze and register biological data, helping
them with the processes of new discoveries and innovations. Elixir also helps software
vendors and developers develop and integrate new software tools. Its first mission is
containerization and packaging deployment, to maintain and improve the infrastructure of
BioContainers. Its second mission is benchmarking and technical monitoring. Its third is to
obtain a register of information and identifiers of bioinformatics tools. Its last mission is to
obtain the best practices in software.
Benchmarking have also been applied to the field of healthcare – in 1996, a group of Carolina
(United States) hospitals created an internal network to share information for better patient
care. Afterwards, international benchmarking platforms were created in order to improve the
field, among them the platform “Logic”, made for collaborative research and healthcare
quality improvement, and aims to compare and improve the performance of intensive care
units (ICUs) in epidemiology, increase the knowledge in that field and link researchers
tackling the same disease across the globe. Today, more than 13 countries are working with
Logic, which represent more than 1500 ICUs. The platforms seem invaluable in present times,
tackling the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, where new knowledge is key to beating this
Benchmarking also has room in circular economy: In Europe, the CEP Circular Economy
Service platform is provided by the nonprofit CLIC Innovation Ltd. The company builds
collaboration between companies and academia and contributes to developing more
favourable innovation environment in Finland and in EU. The platform acts as a market
integrator in new innovations support mechanisms, brings together cost-efficient solutions,
existent and future solutions both, combines critical mass enabling investments for new
business opportunities, prevents silos between different parties and enhances
commercializing of innovations, enables continuous development and resource efficiency, and
maximizes added value of reuse and enhances objectives of circular economy.
In North America, the Ellen MacArthur foundation is aiming to support a smooth transition to
circular economy. The company offers a tool called “Circulytics” for companies, to support
their transition to circular economy. The tool measures the company’s entire circularity and
material flows, supports decision making and strategic development for circular economy
adoption, demonstrates strengths and highlights the areas for improvement, provides optional
transparency to investors and customers about a company’s circular economy adoption, and
delivers unprecedented clarity about circular economy performance, opening new
opportunities to generate brand value with key stakeholders.
Aidenvironment is a not-for profit research, advisory and implementing consultancy company
that operates across Asia, Latin America, and Africa. They create sustainability impact in
agricultural and forest landscapes. They support agribusiness by offering an Inclusive Trade
Scan that helps businesses, NGOs, governments and donors to reflect on the inclusiveness
of a particular initiative, providing a structured framework to work from.
The normally business management focused benchmarking strategies can also be applied to
companies supporting a circular economy: The SWOT analysis – which analyzed a
company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, with the aim of turning the
weaknesses into opportunities, shows how the economic and ecological aspects often
synergize rather well. EkoRec, a Basque PET-plastic recycling company, has received a
Their strengths are reducing CO2 emissions by using recycled raw materials, 100% resource
efficiency as they use all PET gathered and extraction and manufacturing of the raw material
on-site, reducing transportation impact. Their weaknesses are their lack of client diversity as
they are limited to the food, automotive and textile sector, lack of global reputation and a
constant need to adapt to the changing nature of their raw material, as the world of new plastic
manufacturing is constantly evolving. Their opportunities are public interest in sustainability
and a growing quantity of plastic waste, meaning there’s more raw material to recycle, and
their threats are the possibility of future competitors. Using this SWOT
analysis, EkoRec can turn its weaknesses into opportunities: They may decide to expand to
more sectors that use plastic, such as toys and homeware, and collaborate with Nordic hubs
such as Topinpuisto. The weakness of their changing market can also become an opportunity
to be more involved and gain a reputation as a collaborator company.
In conclusion, benchmarking is a valuable tool for any enterprise that can also be applied
outside of its original concept as a management tool – for research, medicine, software
development and more. This tool can be a real driver for change towards a more sustainable
world if good practices are used on a wider scale. There are tools, both in the EU and
worldwide, that help companies benchmark and tools to help companies transition to a
circular economy and applying SWOT analysis benchmarking to an environmental aspect
synergizes with traditional benchmarking well.
Aidenvironment. About us. No date. WWW document. Available at:
https://www.aidenvironment.org [Accessed 25 April 2021].
Aidenvironment. Inclusive Trade Scan for Businesses, NGOs, Governments, and Donors.
No date. WWW document. Available at: https://www.aidenvironment.org/gallery/inclusive—
trade—scan—for—businesses—ngos—governments—and—donors/ [Accessed 25 April 2021].
CLIC. No date. CEP Circular conomy Service Platform. WWW document. Available at:
https://clicinnovation.fi/project/cep/ [Accessed 30 March 2021].
Elixir. No date. Tools platform. Available at: https://elixir—europe.org/platforms/tools
[Accessed 27 March 2021].
Ellen MacArthur Foundation. No date. Circulytics – measuring circularity. WWW document.
Available at: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/resources/apply/circulytics—
measuring—circularity [Accessed 30 March 2021].
Lucidchart. No date. 8 Steps to the Benchmarking Process. WWW document. Available at:
https://www.lucidchart.com/blog/8—steps—of—the—benchmarking—process [Accessed 27 March
Pommer, A., Trancho, A., San Martin, B., Breyer, F., Areizaga, I., Gezalaga, I., Marquez, J.,
Vanlooveren, L., Fernandez, O. 2017. Benchmark Analysis for Circular Economy Hub’s.
Turku University of Applied Sciences. PDF document. Available at: https://circhubs.fi/wp—
content/uploads/2018/01/Final—Report—for—REHA—CE.pdf [Accessed 30 March 2021].