Circular Economy

What is a circular economy? A circular economy aims to reuse its waste in a sustainable system of production and consumption. It's an improvement on the old-fashioned, awful-sounding "take-make-waste" linear business model that begins by extracting resources from the earth — and ends with piles of waste in a landfill. It's a model that — you guessed it — goes full circle to minimize both resource use and waste production.

Companies, like Owens Corning, are already doing this (or are planning to); at an ANA event, Owens Corning stated that it "will decouple their growth from virgin raw materials extraction and CO2 emissions." The recap went on to state, "For Owens Corning, this means every raw material or resource used in its products will remain in the economy indefinitely through recycling and use."

Moreover, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario told the ANA in an interview that recycled inputs "reduces our carbon footprint." Marcario explained:

"We've done a lot of analysis around this. Most people don't realize how fabrics are created. Synthetics like polyester and nylon are derived from fossil fuels. Naturals like cotton and hemp are grown in an agricultural setting. Both of these activities can have an incredibly negative impact on the environment. Recycling allows us to use inputs that would have gone into the waste stream, like plastic bottles. Our ultimate goal is to make all our products and packing from 100 percent recycled and reclaimed content, all from plants grown organically or with regenerative organic agriculture. That's the new standard we're promoting. Currently, we're about 70 percent of the way there."

Below are resources to help brands navigate a circular economy effectively and successfully.

  • How Retailers and Brands Can Support a Circular Economy. Chain Store Age, June 2022.
    A 2021 study found that 60 percent of consumers rated sustainability as an important purchase factor, and a third said they'd be willing to pay more for eco-conscious items. But sustainability goes beyond the product itself. To keep pace with shifting market trends, companies need to adjust their overall business practices, particularly their supply chains — or risk losing market share. Retailers and brands should look to the circular economy to advance their business goals while simultaneously creating products and supply chains that are more economical, sustainable and adaptable for a changing world and a warming planet.

    The circular economy is an industrial framework that intentionally reduces waste by repurposing, reusing and reconfiguring products and materials. Rather than sending "waste" to a landfill, at a cost to your bottom line and the environment, you move it back up the supply chain. To transition to the circular economy, your organization will need to revamp its supply chains and reverse logistics management practices, incorporating intelligent planning technologies that allow you to forecast, plan, and shape data with more flexibility.

  • These 6 Brands Are Closing The Loop With A Circular Economy. Good Side, April 2022.
    With savvy stockholders insisting on better ESG—that's environmental, social and governmental best practices—before they invest, companies and corporations are responding with circular solutions that help combat climate change and reduce environmental damage.

    Even better news: Many of these corporations' circular models are proving far more innovative and interesting than "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" ever was. From computers made from ocean-bound plastics to naturally disintegrating shoes, this article shows how six leading brands are incorporating circular economy principles into products you already know and love.

  • The Shift to a Circular Economy: How Tech is Shaping the Future of Sustainable Retail. CB Insights, February 2022.
    Consumers are increasingly pushing for sustainable business practices in retail, driving businesses to reassess what they produce — and how. The shift to a circular economy will doubtlessly pose major challenges for retailers, but it's also a massive opportunity — and new tech solutions are emerging all the time to make the transition easier. From resale platforms to regenerative farming to autonomous delivery vehicles, CB Insights examines how technology is shaping the future of sustainable retail. One example CB Insights uses comes from Trove. The article says, "Trove is a... circular economy platform, working with brands like Levi's and Eileen Fisher. So far, the company has raised $121 million in funding." Their model:

  • 10+ Brands That Embraced the Circular Economy in 2021. Triple Pundit, January 2022.
    Pledges to use more recycled materials are increasingly falling short as the public grows more concerned about the global waste problem, and people seek out solutions to lighten their footprints. While many of those solutions still need to scale, a growing number of brands are looking to pave the way toward a circular economy in which nothing becomes waste. From reusable and dissolvable packaging to giving secondhand goods a new life, Triple Pundit describes some of the top circular economy solutions that caught our eyes in 2021.

  • Circular Economy for a Sustainable Future: How Organizations Can Empower Consumers and Transition to a Circular Economy. CapGemini, November 2021.
    The circular economy, which aims to move economic and production processes away from linear take-make-waste to more circular and regenerative processes, can significantly contribute to sustainable development and reduce the pressure on finite resources. In this report, CapGemini looks at consumer awareness, behaviors, expectations, and roadblocks as they relate to the circular economy. Key themes covered in this report:
    • The awareness and behaviors of consumers around circular practices
    • Roadblocks to greater consumer adoption of circularity
    • Consumer perception of organizational lack of action on circular initiatives
    • Steps organizations can take to transition to a circular economy model

 The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Futures Pulse are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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