The Loop

Here is what’s been bugging me forever: 90% of people think the circular economy is all about recycling.

When did we forget that the best waste is no waste?

Globally only 7% of all the resources we use are cycled back to our economy.

The rest is burned, landfilled, or added to stock.

Thinking that we can recycle our way out of this is a huge mistake, that could cost us more than we realize.

Recycling is just 1 out of many tools we have in our circular economy toolbox.

Not everything gets recycled.
Not everything is recyclable.
Not everything gets collected.

And when things do get recycled, they are mostly downcycled into lower-quality appliances, given one more life before they end up wasted anyway.

We need to think bigger than that. Here’s what to do instead (right after this):

♻️ Could your company be here?

To keep this newsletter free, I am thinking about offering 2 brands to promote their solutions in this section (or even at the very top, right above the headline).

Are you interested in getting your solutions in front of 1501 sustainability experts, circular economists, and executives?

This newsletter is only 3 weeks old, but folks from companies like Google, Tesla, Volvo Cars, Airbus, UN, Deloitte, or RWE are already reading it.

Let me know if you wanna partner up here.

Alright, back to the point.

To go circular, products should never touch the waste management infrastructure.

That’s the key point about circularity. Prevention.

Here are 6 profitable strategies, that go far beyond recycling, and keep our products away from the trash. Interestingly, they all start with the “R”:

1) RETAIN – work with what you have.

Retain is the most important and powerful strategy. It’s all about maintaining your existing assets.

Prolong their life for as long as possible. IKEA found out that they could give their couch 4 more lives while doubling the revenue.

2) RETHINK – get rid of bad incentives

We are hooked on a system that incentivizes us to pollute. Batteries are no exception.

Gouach designed a repairable, recyclable battery for micromobility, made from old batteries.

They maintain the ownership of the battery so that they are incentivized to get it back and make new stuff out of it.

3) REGENERATE – when your business thrives, nature thrives

Instead of less bad, do some good. Ecosia is a search engine from Berin, with 20 million daily users. Every time you hit search, they plant a tree, using revenue from their ads.

The more you use their product, the more trees are planted. Up to this day, they have planted 200 million trees, globally. They are literally turning deserts into forests.

4) REDUCE – do more with less

30% of all the food is wasted before we even taste it.

Too Good To Go is a Danish food surplus app, that helps you to save food waste, by selling your surpluses, as well as buying food boxes at a discounted price.

They saved 120 million meals last year. They are now valued at 1 billion EURos.

5) REUSE – use again and again.

Use for longer, and extend the use of existing resources and products.

Most of the consumer packaging these days lives a single, short, and inefficienct life.

Repack is a Finnish startup that developed reusable and sustainable packaging. Their packaging is reused, up to 20 times, and is extremely easy to use for consumers.

6) RECOVER – close the loop

Last but not least, bring back your resources and give them a new life.

Volvo Trucks build engines that can last up to 1 million kilometers. But not all of them are brand new!

The company recovers 5000 old engines, and turns them into new ones, with the same warranty, and quality, while cutting 40% of the costs and 80% of energy needs.

Now here’s the interesting part. Nearly all of those examples have this in common:

Forget recycling: They all focus on strategies to keep their products in use longer.

Access over ownership: Instead of owning the products, you’re just using them.

Design intention: Majority of those examples were designed for circularity from day 1.

That’s it from me today, thanks for reading.

Vojta

24 March 2024

Other issues of The Loop

Design is at the heart of the circular economy.

04 May 2024

Design is at the heart of the circular economy.

27 April 2024

Design is at the heart of the circular economy.

20 April 2024

Design is at the heart of the circular economy.

13 April 2024