In the past, we’ve shared our support for the “circular economy” model, which we believe to be the future of the sustainability movement. As we noted in a previous blog post, “a circular economy is one in which we use our resources, putting them back into the economy rather than discarding them.” So, for example, “instead of tossing all of our food waste into a landfill somewhere, we find ways to recycle it or to use it to produce new consumables.”
While this may sound like a pipe dream, it’s actually anything but; in fact, the European Union wants to have a fully circular economy by 2050. Here in the States, there are a number of strategies that companies can use to get involved, making their own contributions to the sustainability movement.
Researchers who advocate for the circular economy say that there are basically four approaches that companies can take: Make, ally, buy, and do nothing.
● First, companies can make, which means building and implementing their own in-house circular capabilities. For example, a tech company can design products that are easier to repair and provide customers with easier access to replacement parts.This reduces the need for customers to simply throw away products that no longer work.
● Secondly, companies can ally with organizations that have circular expertise. This might mean buying, investing in, or partnering with companies that enable product recycling or reuse.
● A third option is for companies to buy; in other words, to outsource circular services to third-party contractors. For example, a tech company can hire a non-profit entity to collect and resell used or unwanted phones. In this scenario, the tech company enlists the services of a circular service provider on a contract basis but is still able to provide an easy way for end-customers to avoid waste.
● Fourth and finally, companies can do nothing. In this scenario, companies don’t actually engage with the circular economy at all, at least not directly. Instead, they take a “sales first” approach, essentially operating a traditional business model and entrusting third parties to fill the void. This may sound like a cop-out, but it can actually be a meaningful approach. By “doing nothing,” a company can actually create space for innovators and startups to step up and offer circular services.
There are plenty of ways to engage the circular economy, and no one-size-fits-all approach. How will your business play a part in this broad sustainability movement? As you consider your options, we’d love to discuss possibilities for partnership, specifically around recycling and waste management. Contact WasteXperts at your convenience.