The circular economy is something we have been talking about a fair amount recently. Following our LinkedIn Live event with ASPIRE where we talked about the benefits of the circular economy, we wanted to dive a little deeper into exactly what it means and what you can do to reduce waste in your business.
Why should you participate in the circular economy?
Most people are familiar with the adage: reduce, reuse, recycle. The circular economy is a model that fully encompasses this phrase.
The world is increasingly focused on implementing sustainable solutions in every area of our lives. Businesses are doing more and more to implement sustainable practices and efforts, which are having a concerted impact on the environment and profitability. Understanding the circular economy is crucial for businesses that want to have a positive environmental impact.
The circular economy focuses on extending the life cycle of products by sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products in as many ways for as long as possible. In essence, the circular economy focuses on reducing waste as much as possible. This differs from the traditional linear economy pattern based on taking, making, consuming and throwing away products, and includes models like planned obsolescence that encourage repeat purchases.
The circular economy focuses on three main principles:
- Creating manufacturing systems that don’t produce waste or pollution.
- Choosing reusable materials.
- Using renewable power sources and materials.
Implementing these principles within your business can have great benefits for not just your sustainable efforts, but your business as a whole.
Benefits of the circular economy
The circular economy doesn’t just support efforts against climate change, it can help reduce costs and even increase profits. At the very beginning of the process, embracing environmentally focused practices can lead to reduced waste and energy consumption, leading to clear cost savings. It can then attract eco-conscious consumers, expanding your audience and reach for increased profits.
One of the largest medical technology suppliers in the world, in 2022 Philips reported that 18% of their business revenue came from circular products and services. This came as the company is already offering trade-ins on all large medical equipment. There are many ways businesses can utilise the circular economy to reduce their environmental footprint and reduce costs or increase profit.
Here are some things your business can do to start working as a part of the circular economy.
- Look at your supply chain and identify areas where you can swap in sustainable materials.
- Rent goods where possible instead of buying them outright.
- Investigate the possibility of lengthening the life of your products through reusability and recycling.
One great example of a big business employing the circular economy in their business practices is HP. HP has been incorporating circular practices for almost two decades by collecting used ink cartridges for recycling. Recently, they have amplified their efforts and launched the world’s first monitor and computer made from ocean-bound plastics.
Optimise your resources
While revamping your business to support the circular economy may seem daunting, there are some practical strategies for optimising your resources to ensure nothing goes to waste.
- Auditing your waste allows you to identify the areas where you are creating the most waste and identify and implement strategies to reduce the amount of waste produced.
- Collaborate with your suppliers and engage with employees to encourage resource sharing to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency with one of many tracking tools such as ASPIRE+ and Intelex. The Australian government is also working on implementing a new National Waste and Resource Recovery Data Hub that will make sharing information on waste and resources more accessible.
- Look into sustainable sourcing for materials and products used in your business’s everyday operations.
Focusing on your back-of-house operations, you can implement strategies that reduce waste from the start. Implementing more eco-design principles that use fewer materials and cradle-to-cradle concepts that emphasise the potential for infinite circulation of materials can help to prioritise waste reduction in your operations and lead to smarter, more sustainable resource management.
Keep track of your progress
Tracking and measuring your efforts is imperative to understanding what impact your efforts have in the long run. Start by setting realistic targets, evaluating them as you progress and utilising the gathered information to inform future decisions to improve your performance and identify where to make adjustments.
Communicate your efforts
Tracking your efforts also allows for greater reporting and communication of your sustainability efforts to both stakeholders and consumers. In a world where consumers are choosing the sustainable option more and more, this becomes another way to increase your profits, as well as brand trust and loyalty.
Utilising storytelling to share your efforts with the broader community is a great way to engage with your audience. Sharing tips, inside experiences, and elements of the process towards making your business more sustainable can create greater brand awareness and engagement.
Beware of Greenwashing
One important thing to always be aware of is ensuring that you are not going so far as to greenwash your brand. Be open and authentic in communicating your sustainability goals and efforts without exaggerating. A genuine commitment to sustainability with concrete examples of how you are implementing greener practices and solutions will only further your business.
Now that you have the basics, get in touch with us to find out how to showcase your sustainability efforts through marketing.