10th October 2023    |    Insights

Good for the planet and the pocket

The concept of the circular economy has garnered attention and increasing focus from various stakeholders, ranging from consumers, to government, businesses and software vendors. 

This innovative model prioritises sustainability and the extension of product life cycles, marking a significant shift in the way we approach production and consumption. Here we explore the importance of brands embracing the circular economy and how it’s reshaping their strategies for a more sustainable future. And importantly how this is being perceived by their partners, customers and wider stakeholder network.

IT and data: A new perspective

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and leaders in the tech industry are at the forefront of adopting a circular economy approach. An area they are prioritising is the need to consider the entire product lifecycle, including end-of-life aspects, when building IT systems. Traditionally, CIOs might have hidden broken products until disposal, but changing regulations now demand a re-evaluation of strategies, architecture, and vendor choices concerning disposal processes.

One critical aspect CIOs must address is measuring the percentage of e-waste that is reused, recycled, or disposed of. Additionally, they must strike a balance between security measures like electronic media shredding and sustainability objectives.

Brands embracing the circular economy

Brands that wholeheartedly embrace the circular economy are gearing up for success in the future. By adopting a more future-proofed approach, they not only align with sustainability goals but also strengthen their relationships with customers, clients, and employees.

One notable example is Agilico, a company with a “net zero” vision. Agilico’s commitment to sustainability extends to its interactions with customers and colleagues, ensuring that every aspect of its operations contributes to a circular economy. It has put policies and measures into place right across its business that embed circular economy principles. Its refurbishment centre at the new Gateshead Team Valley plant is testament to this approach – using its expertise to increase the lifecycle of products.

There are many other examples. IKEA, the Swedish home-retail giant, has also made significant strides in adopting circular economy practices. Through its Take-Back programme, IKEA allows customers to return furniture for repurposing or recycling. Customers can rent items or buy refurbished furniture, promoting reuse and sustainable shopping habits. 

Accenture, a global leader in technology and consulting, has taken a unique approach to the circular economy. By leveraging advanced technologies and collaborating with organisations like Mastercard and Amazon Web Services, Accenture aims to enhance its circular supply chain capabilities. This initiative not only fosters sustainability but also empowers consumers and promotes financial inclusion.

Unilever, a multinational consumer goods corporation, is another brand design committed to sustainability and the circular economy. All Unilever products use sustainable ingredients, such as ethically-sourced palm oil, to reduce their environmental footprint. The company has set ambitious targets to reduce packaging waste by 2025 and has launched recycling programmes to educate and increase recycling rates.

Circular economy filters right down to the leisure and hospitality sector. Restaurants are making a big stride minimising waste in their sourcing, preparation and cooking processes. Provenance and seasonality is a huge driver for many independents, recipes – with Rebel in Heaton which opened last year really excelling in this approach and gaining a great reputation from the community.

Conclusion

In a world where environmental concerns are paramount, brands that embrace the circular economy are paving the way for a more sustainable future. These brands are reimagining their products, services, and operations to align with sustainability goals, reduce waste, and engage with conscious consumers. 

As consumers, we have the power to support these forward-thinking brands and contribute to a more circular and eco-friendly economy. This not only works for the planet but also our pockets. By embracing this, we can all play a part in building a better, more sustainable future for generations to come.