May 2022 | by Lili, Berit & Felix
Streamlining production has been a long-time target of many brands for several crucial reasons. A more efficient and sustainable production process saves money and creates less (or even zero) waste, generating enormous benefits for both brands and the environment.
No wonder that many brands today strive to reach the highly advantageous circular economy.
According to its definition, “the circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.
It is based on three principles, driven by design:
1. eliminate waste and pollution,
2. circulate products and materials (at their highest value), and
3. regenerate nature.”
Behind these three principles are three actions: reducing the usage of raw materials, recycling waste and reusing old components.
Contrary to a linear economic model, waste doesn’t exist in a circular economy as all products are designed to be reused, repurposed and recycled as long as possible. To sum it up neatly, “waste is the new raw material.”
A rubber tire repurposed as a plant pot
To become circular requires brands to take the entire life-cycle of their products into consideration. The journey doesn’t end with a sale, nor with customer service and warranty repairs. In fact, a brand embracing a circular economy will think beyond that and ensure long-time repairs, reusal and eventual recycling of their products.
For example, the clothing company Nudie Jeans wishes to become the world’s most sustainable denim brand. To reach this goal, the company adopted a strategy that aims to create a circular ecosystem for their products, supply chain and customer journeys. This includes creating durable products that can be reused and recycled, supporting the circular production of materials, and encouraging customers to participate by repairing, reusing and ultimately recycling their Nudie Jeans denim.
Climate change is an imminent threat felt by all of us. Among other issues, horroristic images of continent-sized garbage islands floating merrily in our oceans have prompted consumers, brands and governments to urgent action.
To comply with legislation like that, investing in climate-friendly production and trade is a necessity for brands. But apart from that, taking tangible action against climate change gives your brand a very important competitive edge as well.
Consumers are increasingly looking for products and brands with the smallest ecological footprint, which means that if your brand embraces the circular economy, environmentally conscious consumers will be more than happy to embrace your brand.
A recent survey in Germany found that over 80% of consumers would prefer buying products originating from circular production. Around 50% of them would even pay more for such products, while roughly the same amount of people would stop purchasing from a brand that did nothing to protect the environment.
Besides working toward the circular economy, bear in mind that you have to let your customers know what you’re doing. Interestingly, 43% of people believe the textile industry is at the forefront of the movement for the circular economy - which may have something to do with how strongly some textile brands advertise their efforts.
Nevertheless, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of greenwashing, i.e. marketing your brand as environmentally conscious but not actually doing so much. That would do more harm than good, as consumers could stop trusting your brand.
A reusable grocery bag holding fresh produce
This makes the circular economy a win-win-win for brands, consumers and the planet alike.
Any brand from almost any industry that wants to streamline its production costs and create a more sustainable ecological footprint can strive to become circular. For example, brands like Audi, Schwalbe, Perspectives, Schneider Electric, Kärcher and Napapijri are all experimenting with methods to embrace the circular economy.
One of the easiest and most obvious ways to reach that goal is reusing old products and/or product parts to create new ones.
Although its widespread recognition began in the recent decade, several elements of the circular economy are not new. In fact,the first ideas appeared as early as the 1920s when Michelin set up a tire-leasing concept. According to this, Michelin provides tire management and maintenance to its customers, ensuring the longevity of products and collecting to repurpose them at the end of their lifecycle.
Ricoh is doing something similar. When the company’s leased products (printers, photocopiers, etc.) are returned, Ricoh does an extensive maintenance service on them, ensuring they’re fit to serve again. When releasing these refreshed products to customers again, Ricoh uses a special GreenLine label on them to allow customers to choose a more environmentally friendly option.
The idea of reusing and remanufacturing is especially popular with various brands in the automotive and machinery sectors. For example, Caterpillar started collecting old product parts and remanufacturing them back in the 1970s. Renault runs a dedicated remanufacturing plant along with an operation trying to procure old used parts from its own distribution network and various car disassemblers.
This “reverse supply chain”, aimed at collecting used products and product parts is essential for running a successful recycling and remanufacturing operation, and in many countries, to comply with legislation.
Let’s not forget that providing spare parts is a legal obligation in several parts of the world. In the EU, for example,producers of electric and household appliances have to provide spare parts for at least 7-10 years after the production of an item.
Gone are the days where consumers were encouraged to throw out a malfunctioning product and simply buy a new one. Nowadays, product repairs are in fashion again. Which means that used products and product parts are rapidly gaining in value.
However, brands may not be equipped to locate, collect and purchase these products by themselves.
And this is where globaleyez comes in.
Online brand protection services like marketplace and image monitoring are geared towards detecting and eliminating infringing web content, e.g. product listings, domains and pictures that include brand and product names.
Our searches detect both authorized and unauthorized content, and extensive filters help us separate one type from the other. We usually discard authorized listings, images, etc, since they have a right to be there and/or don’t infringe on our clients’ IP rights, which means we don’t have to take action against them.
But, as we’ve recently come to realize, it’s exactly these types of listings that a brand needs to complete its circular economy. Listings of used products or product parts can appear anywhere in the world on various marketplaces, offered both by consumers and licensed second-hand dealers.
Finding and purchasing them one-by-one would take ages for your brand, not to mention the costs of each individual sale. For us, it just takes a couple of seconds. globaleyez’s powerful software tools can monitor over 150 marketplaces worldwide, including C2C marketplaces, social media platforms, closed buying groups and more. Based on your requirements, we can provide a continuous or one-off monitoring service, or anything in between.
Finding used products is only the first step: you also have to acquire the goods. Well, our sourcing service is ready for the task.
We conduct purchases in over 50 countries, both on- and offline. Our global network of representatives ensures rapid and cost-effective action, whether purchasing online or in-person, which means that we can secure the procurement of old products and product parts at a lower price and with higher efficiency.
A well-known client in the automotive industry is already working with us in the procurement of used car parts to fulfill their legal obligations and complete their circular economy. As globaleyez is committed to sustainability and the protection of our planet, we’re very enthusiastic to use our online brand protection tools for this purpose.
If your brand wants to take the leap and contribute to the circular economy, don’t hesitate to contact us.