The Circular Economy is a growing trend for ecologists and environmental businesses. But how much thought have you given it within your business? Have you ever thought about leasing a car? What about a pair of jeans?
There is a shift away from ownership of products to addressing the realisation of what you need an item for. Do you want a drill, or do you just need a hole in the wall? Do you want a washing machine or do you need to wash your clothes? Do you want the latest fashionable clothes, then leasing them may be the right option for you.
Check out these useful ideas and websites:
Would you like to sell every product you make 20 times over? Surely that’s impossible? Well not so. RePack is a reusable and returnable packaging service.
Their reusable and returnable delivery packaging is designed with reuse in mind. It’s durable and will last a minimum of 20 cycles and is suitable for goods that don’t need protection during transport.
The reusable packaging is made from recycled materials and protects the goods better than any other single-use packaging out there. Packaging is adjustable and does not ship any air, saving money and nature.
All reusable packages are designed to fold into letter size when empty and are simply returned to a postbox, anywhere in the world, free of charge.
What if you could guarantee a regular income from every sale? For ever! Well that’s what Mud Jeans have just gone and done.
Fashion is a dirty business. And jeans are one of the dirtiest garments out there. Due to its volume the denim industry has a big impact. On average people buy two billion pairs of jeans each year. Less than 1% of materials used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing. They want you to do things differently. What a great idea!
The notion of circularity has deep historical and philosophical origins. The idea of feedback, of cycles in real-world systems, is ancient and has echoes in various schools of philosophy. It enjoyed a revival in industrialised countries after World War II when the advent of computer-based studies of non-linear systems unambiguously revealed the complex, interrelated, and therefore unpredictable nature of the world we live in – more akin to a metabolism than a machine. With current advances, digital technology has the power to support the transition to a circular economy by radically increasing virtualisation, de-materialisation, transparency, and feedback-driven intelligence.
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The Circular Economy – a greater understanding
The Circular Economy is an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.
In a circular economy, activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for big and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally.
It is based on three principles:
- Design out waste and pollution
- Keep products and materials in use
- Regenerate natural systems
A circular economy reveals and designs out the negative impacts of economic activity that cause damage to human health and natural systems. This includes the release of greenhouse gases and hazardous substances, the pollution of air, land, and water, as well as structural waste such as traffic congestion.
It favours activity that preserve value in the form of energy, labour, and materials. This means designing for durability, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling to keep products, components, and materials circulating in the economy. Circular systems make effective use of bio-based materials by encouraging many different uses for them as they cycle between the economy and natural systems.
A circular economy avoids the use of non-renewable resources and preserves or enhances renewable ones, for instance by returning valuable nutrients to the soil to support regeneration or using renewable energy as opposed to relying on fossil fuels.
The circular economy has been gaining traction with business and government leaders alike. Their imagination is captured by the opportunity to gradually decouple economic growth from virgin resource inputs, encourage innovation, increase growth, and create more robust employment. If we transition to a circular economy, the impact will be felt across society.
The potential benefits of shifting to a circular economy extend beyond the economy and into the natural environment. By designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating, rather than degrading, natural systems, the circular economy can be the mechanism by which we achieve global climate targets.
Businesses would benefit significantly by shifting their operations in line with the principles of the circular economy. These benefits include the creation of new profit opportunities, reduced costs due to lower virgin-material requirements, and stronger relationships with customers.
The circular economy will not only benefit businesses, the environment, and the economy at large, but also the individual. Ranging from increased disposable income to improved living conditions and associated health impacts, the benefits for individuals of a system based on the principles of circularity are significant.
There is no simple fix and no stones can be left un-turned in the pursuit of system change. Business models, product and service design, legislation, accounting practices, urban planning, farming practices, materials extraction, manufacturing, and more, all currently have undesirable qualities from a circular perspective. Yet, we cannot change just one element of the existing system and expect the change we need. Systems change is difficult to achieve, and great ideas often don’t come to fruition because of failures in managing the complexities involved. What we should do is learn to understand how complex systems – like an economy – operate, because understanding is the first step towards creating better solutions.
Our economy is currently locked into a system which favours the linear model of production and consumption. However, this lock-in is weakening under the pressure of several powerful disruptive trends. We must take advantage of this favourable alignment of economic, technological, and social factors in order to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Circularity is making inroads into the linear economy and has moved beyond the proof of concept; the challenge we face now is to mainstream the circular economy and bring it to scale.