by Vikas Vij
In a linear economy, inputs and manufacturing process move in a single direction, and end products ultimately end up in landfills and oceans. Some of the leading companies are abandoning this traditional economy model and are gravitating toward the circular economy. The circular economy model is based on the recovery, reuse, and regeneration of materials.
The Conference Board has released a report, Business Transformation and the Circular Economy, which details how forward-thinking companies are making a shift from the linear economy to the circular economy. The circular model helps ensure that emissions and waste are minimized and materials retain their highest value at all times.
The report lays out the risks and rewards of undertaking this shift, and provides real-world case studies and recommendations, drawn from companies that are leading this transition. According to the report’s author Thomas Singer, businesses can reap impressive savings by adopting attributes of the circular economy – and at the same time, secure revenue opportunities by winning over the growing number of customers who seek products and services that align with their own sustainability goals.
The report highlights examples of seven companies that are at the forefront of the circular economy. These include:
Through a partnership with Goodwill Industries, Dell’s closed-loop recycled plastics program has expanded to over 90 product models that contain up to 15 percent recovered plastic.
DuPont has developed solutions for meat packaging that can help customers save as much as 80 percent of the packaging weight as well as double the shelf life of the product, reducing in-store food waste by half.
Through HP’s Instant Ink service, consumers’ internet-connected printers recognize when ink cartridges are low and automatically ship new cartridges. The new cartridges include return envelopes, which enables HP to close the loop by incorporating as much as 80 percent of the plastics from returned cartridges into the manufacturing of new cartridges.
Modular carpet maker Interface has a 2020 goal of obtaining all of the company’s raw materials from rapidly renewable bio-based materials or recycled waste streams, and the company is currently 60 percent of the way toward meeting this target.
In 2011, Kimberly-Clark launched the RightCycle initiative with the aim of converting hard-to-recycle products into useful new items. Now the company works on these initiatives with customers across more than 200 sites around the world.
For Philips, circular economy initiatives largely hinge on the notion of switching from selling products to selling services. For example, “light as a service” is one of its primary circular economy initiatives. This business represents a shift away from selling a product (light fixtures) to providing a service (lighting solutions).
The company’s circular economy focus has widened over the years to look not only at capturing and returning waste materials to the production loop, but also identifying ways to produce items that are ultimately more recoverable.
Source and Image: Conference Board