It is a certification programme that allows programmes or projects that carry out circular economy activities, such as plastic recycling (among other activities), to generate Circular Economy Credits (CECs) that are equivalent to one tonne of materials that were reduced or recirculated. These credits can be purchased by organisations that want to offset their environmental material footprint.

The VPCE  is an economic instrument for any organisation that has a circular economy programme or project to generate additional income from its activities.

These are initiatives for the recovery of materials along the value chain with which Circular Economy Credits (CECs) are traded, which finance environmental services for reduction and recirculation, their purpose extends to the elimination of waste and pollution, the extension of the useful life of products and materials and the regeneration of natural systems.

The Voluntary Programme On Circular Economy (VPCE is led by Cercarbon, a multidisciplinary organisation and expert in the creation of programmes and initiatives to mitigate climate change in the voluntary carbon market, and Zero Waste Global, a leading organisation in the development of international circular economy projects and standards in the material flow.

Any new or two-yearly retroactive circularity organisation or initiative that can justify its additionality and applicability in accordance with the methodology to be applied.

These are international financing mechanisms equivalent to the reduction or recirculation of one metric tonne of materials. These credits can be purchased by organisations or consumers who want to offset their material footprint and promote the development of  Programme or Project on Circular Economy Materials  (PCEM).

Each certificate of reduced or recirculated tonne is identified with a unique serial number that contains all the information of the PCEM, guaranteeing the traceability and transparency that this market deserves.

It increases and enhances material reduction and recycling programmes or projects, promotes the optimisation of materials in the biological and technological cycle, contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promotes a friendly, efficient and effective environment for the interaction of the actors involved and ensures transparency in the exchange and integration of data in the international market for Circular Economy Credits (CECs).

Materials reduction or recirculation activities are accredited independently of their location, i.e. the  Programme or Project on Circular Economy Materials  (PCEM) can be developed anywhere in the world under the technical considerations of the programme. As it is an international programme, it promotes the participation of actors from all regions, encouraging interaction between their own markets.

The VPCE uses EcoRegistry as its registration platform to  register my   Programme or Project on Circular Economy Materials  (PCEM). EcoRegistry is a platform based on blockchain technology that ensures transparency in the accounting of the voluntary market of circularity of materials and security and traceability in the management of information related to the initiatives of reduction or recirculation of materials.

Additionality means that, in the absence of the proposed Programme or Project on Circular Economy Materials  (PCEM), the amount of materials recycled or recirculated by it would not have been removed from the environment or reintroduced into the value chain. The additionality criterion is detailed in each of the methodologies, e.g. for the plastic recycling methodology see the decision tree to demonstrate additionality.

The activities of this programme are divided into two groups: Reduction and Recirculation. These two categories can be specifically implemented according to the 9Rs of the circular economy: reduction (reject, rethink and reduce) and recirculation (reuse/repurpose, repair, refurbish, remanufacture, recover and recycle). However, their eligibility for the generation of Circular Economy Credits (CECs) depends on the methodology applied.

Circular Economy Credits (CECs) can be purchased by organisations or individual consumers who want to offset their material footprint, based on the premise that one CEC is equivalent to the reduction (reject, rethink and reduce) or recirculation (reuse/repurpose, repair, restore, remanufacture, recover and recycle) of one metric tonne of materials. Through the marketing of these certificates, material recovery and management projects can be financed, which will attract new resources to the communities involved and regions where the activities take place.

If registration in the programme takes place before 31 July 2024, the retroactivity will be counted from 01 January 2017 (7.5 years), but if registration takes place from 1 August 2024, the retroactivity will be 3 years.

The accreditation period for Programme or Project on Circular Economy Materials  (PCEM)  is 10 years, renewable once for a maximum of 10 years. In the case of the Programmes of Activities it will be a maximum of 20 years.

Different methodologies can be used as long as they take into account the material reduction and recirculation activities set out in the Voluntary Programme On Circular Economy (VPCE). These methodologies must be submitted jointly or independently following the guidelines described in the  VPCE Procedures document and be approved by Global Zero Waste and Cercarbon.

In case the procedures set out in the available methodologies do not cover any specific circumstance(s) of the Programme or Project on Circular Economy Materials  (PCEM), the developer may request a methodological deviation, via email:

The value of a credit depends on the characteristics of the project, i.e. type of activity (reduction or recirculation), location, type of material, social and environmental impact, among others, which can add value to the credit. A Circular Economy Credit (CEC) represents one metric tonne of materials reduced or recirculated.

Also, the value of the certificates will depend on international market performance and existing demand.

Yes, when the   Programme or Project on Circular Economy Materials  (PCEM) is developed with communities, a public consultation with stakeholders must be carried out; in addition, when registered in the  Voluntary Programme On Circular Economy (VPCE),  the PCEM is subject to a 30-day public comment period and stakeholders can consult the project and make their comments.