The business world is moving towards sustainability. The benefits are clear: you can help the planet and help your business. In fact, one-third of consumers prefer sustainable brands according to a report by Unilever. In this respect, there is potential for businesses to make a profit by labelling themselves as environmental enterprises.
While some businesses adopt a sustainable strategy later in their life, some brands are born to facilitate the circular economy. The circular economy is a model for producing and recycling goods and materials in order to reduce the impact of waste on the environment. You may not know it, but you’re likely to have encountered a business that reflects the ideals of the circular economy. Here, we explore businesses that were created with reusing and recycling as their core purpose and why they’re important for the wellbeing of the environment.
Starting in 2007, musicMagpie was founded on the idea of buying and selling old CDs. Today, the business has grown into one of Britain’s largest buyer and seller of refurbished electronic goods.
The average life of a smartphone is two to three years. It’s important that these devices are reused or handed down in order to sustain the tech industry and help the environment. There are a variety of rare earth elements in every phone, including gold and platinum. The average mobile phone contains 0.024g of gold. However, extracting these metals at the end of a phone’s life can be difficult.
Businesses like musicMagpie play an integral role in driving down the cost of these elements. If everyone bought new phones, there would be a much higher demand for these metals, therefore increasing their price.
To date, musicMagpie has sold over £125 million worth of used goods, ensuring that quality used items can continue life beyond their initial owner’s possession.
Craft beers are growing in popularity. Today, you can visit any pub or bar and ask for a special beer with fragrant undertones. But while you compare your hops and barley, you may be surprised to learn that some beers are made using recycled goods.
Toast is a brewery with the circular economy at the forefront of its values. According to the brewery, food production is the world’s biggest contributor to climate change, yet one-third of all food is discarded as waste. Toast Ale’s solution to the problem is as innovative as it is enjoyable. Wasted bread is used to replace one-third of the malted barley in their grain. Due to the high sugar and carbohydrate content of bread, it is perfect for the brewing process.
Toast Ale say that they have saved over 2 million slices of bread from going to waste, while at the same time creating over 1.75 million beers for our enjoyment. All the profits from the brewery go to charity, helping to further improve the food waste and circular economy system.
Pawnbrokers are an institution that can be traced back millennia. It was a concept that both the Ancient Greeks and the Roman Empire utilised during their height. However, today businesses are using this method of buying, selling, and lending to improve the circular economy.
Cash for Gold is just one example of a business founded to resell and recycle old materials. In this case, gold is the name of the game. Cash for Gold does not necessarily value gold based on the value of the jewellery on which it’s found, but more so on the weight of the metal. These goods can then either be sold on as is or for their inherent material value. Remember how gold is used in your smartphone? Well, there’s a strong possibility that some of that metal has gone through a recycling scheme like this. Pawnbrokers such as Cash for Gold allow for gold to be reused and redistributed across the circular economy, wherever it is desired or needed.
Every business needs to be as sustainable as possible. But achieving this goal can be difficult, especially for enterprises that have large volumes of waste. Introducing single-stream recycling is an important first step to ensure recyclable materials avoid landfill and incineration.
If we take paper as an example, if properly segregated at the source, this can be recycled and come back into a business (closed-loop recycling). This is a service that Reconomy offers, along with a number of other solutions such as PPE recycling and coffee cup recycling, that can move waste up the waste hierarchy. Reconomy is a leading example of a waste management service provider that aims to help businesses on their own sustainable journey.
The company offers businesses the opportunity to think differently about their waste, designing it out to support with the transition from a linear to a circular economy. This includes a strategic approach to high volumes of problematic waste streams through single-stream recycling. Furthermore, the service explores how businesses can reduce their waste rather than simply how to dispose of it. This allows businesses to save money and meet their sustainable and social value goals simultaneously.
Second-hand stores have a long-standing tradition within the circular economy. The ability to sell or giveaway goods at the end of their use prevents wasteful manufacturing, which harms the environment. For the clothing sector, this has a significant impact. One in two people will throw their unwanted clothes in the bin. Meanwhile, the global industry produces 92 million tonnes of textile waste every year.
Depop was established as a way to reduce waste in the fashion industry and to promote the benefits of second-hand shopping. Even better, the online platform gives people the opportunity to make money from recycling their unwanted goods. Ultimately, people can buy fashion label products at a fraction of the price, reducing waste in the fashion industry and prolonging the life of garments and other accessories.
Have you been a customer of any of these businesses? Or have you experienced the circular economy from any other brands? The shift towards sustainability in the business world is promising. It helps us make more ethical choices and allows us to feel good about our spending decisions. In the future, we should choose businesses that adopt sustainable strategies and demonstrate why the environment is at the forefront of our economic choices. In time, more businesses are likely to be born out of the circular economy.