We were privileged to hear top line advice from New Zealand experts on how business should start to integrate the circular economy at our event hosted by AUT University on 9 March. Watch a short video to hear their tips.
At ‘Revolutionising Resource Use – How your Business can Benefit from the Circular Economy’, leading practitioners candidly discussed their approaches and the benefits they are deriving from the circular economy*. Here are our top five takeaway learnings.
Design for a more circular economy
Designing products for a more circular economy was a key theme running through the presentations. Wishbone Design has managed to create a product (children’s bikes) that replaces multiple toys and has a very long lifecycle due to its durability and reparability. One of the benefits is that there is a strong second hand market for the products, meaning customers are not put off by a high initial cost as they can see the bike holds its value.
Interface carpet tiles (sold in New Zealand by Inzide Commercial) have been designed so individual tiles can be replaced without impacting the overall pattern, and at the end of their life they can be re-processed into new carpet tiles.
Consider if you need to actually own products
Traditional forms of ownership were also questioned with Philips Lighting now offering a ‘pay per lux’ model where the manufacturer retains ownership of the fittings and the customer only pays for the lighting levels they use. This form of ‘product as a service’ offering puts the emphasis on manufacturers to maximise lifecycles and efficiencies of the assets, since they remain under their ownership. This provides the customer with the service they need without the initial ‘up front’ costs, hassles of maintenance and disposal at the end of life.
Tork Professional Hygiene illustrated how it is utilising the ‘Internet of Things’ to reduce usage of hand towels and maintenance times for cleaning staff by connecting up dispensers via sensors to the internet to record and monitor usage. This sector innovation provides Tork the opportunity to offer its customers previously unknown information, enabling optimised cleaning schedules and inventory levels.
Identify the key impacts of a product as a starting point
thinkstep and Catalyst showed that assessing the greatest impacts of a product via a Life Cycle Assessment provides a robust process to identify which parts of the overall product or service (from creation or production to usage and end of life) have the biggest environmental impact. This provides direction for an organisation’s starting point on its circular journey.
Work across the value chain
A holistic systems approach following the flow of the product or service is needed to create really effective circular solutions.
If you need help in this area we can utilise our broad membership base to connect you to the different organisations that can provide the many parts to the solution. For this or any other assistance required for moving your organisation towards being more circular, please contact James Griffin: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a sustainable growth model the Sustainable Business Network is committed to accelerating the shift towards a more circular economy in New Zealand.
*The circular economy is an economic system where the lifecycle of materials maximised, usage optimised and at the end of life all materials are fully reutilised.