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Don’t be afraid to get circular when it comes to sustainability and innovation..

Circular economies and circular supply chains simply mean connecting stronger with our supply chain “partners” which includes our customers, in order to connect sustainable and innovative synergies in the supply chain. Companies working in Circular supply chains tend to think of each other and their customers more as “partners” instead of customers-vendors, and they share common goals for one another’s business growth and our planet. Circular supply chains look to reduce cost, increase efficiencies, and add sustainable value up and down the supply chain.

It’s no secret our Earth’s natural resources are diminishing at an alarming rate. We’ve all heard it. According to the Global Footprint Network’s estimate, human demand on our planet’s ecosystems is projected to exceed what nature can regenerate by about 75 % in just the next 3 years. Considering we only have one Earth, we all need to reinvent how we use its resources and use our own resources before it’s too late. Odds are business owner’s care, employees of the business care, and our customers, the “consumer” cares.

An important distinction I’d like to make clear is this. For us business owners, a circular supply chain and circular economy focus as much on economic sustainability as environmental sustainability. We as business owners shouldn’t pay up for sustainability! Instead we should leverage sustainability to reduce cost, gain efficiencies, and connect stronger with our supply chain partners and customers.

For all us that make, use, or serve customers in the plastics industry, we have every incentive to operate as sustainably as possible and showcase our sustainability to everyone that wants to listen! After all … Plastic is the greatest most useful man made raw material made. Yet it’s also a pollutant in many well documented ways. As business owners and operators, it’s imperative we evaluate the effects that our business operations, practices, and products pose on our society. Recognizing where we can reduce our environmental impact is the entry point for us to join a circular economy.

A circular economy or supply chain is about reinventing how we make our products and how they are used, maintained, and ultimately handled at end-of-use.

We must evaluate factors such as product design, raw material selection, manufacturing process, packaging optimization, and the end product’s reusability and recyclability.  It’s about reinventing our business standards to be more efficient, using less to achieve more, while making the world and our business better. To get circular we need to get rid of the “take, make, dispose” mindset and adopt “make, use, return” our plastics industries collective mantra. When we embrace that together in each of our supply chains we create our own circular economies.

 

Here’s 3 area’s we see making significant improvements for clients that are pursuing circular supply chains.

  1. Look forward and get disruptive.

Forget about the old models we created yesterday and open our eyes to new improved models for tomorrow! Disruptive and innovative business models can be developed across every manufacturing-retail sector and certainly in the plastics manufacturing space. The emergence of today’s sharing economy propagated by tech-savvy, environmentally conscious millennials and members of Generation Z exemplifies the “product as a service” ethos. In this business model, our physical products, services and software join to create an ongoing experience rather than a one-time transaction-purchase.

For example, ride-sharing companies like Lyft & Uber offer their product (rides) as a sustainable service — drivers use their own cars, and riders use their own mobile devices to call for a ride. Furthermore, matching service such as Lyft Line pair passengers headed in the same direction, turning what would be multiple rides into one — meaning less fuel consumption and reduced carbon emissions.

Subscription-based models are another viable entry point into the circular economy. They often result in economic and environmental benefits for both sides, including cost savings for customers and more sustainable outcomes for companies. One example is HP’s Instant Ink program, which uses the Internet to ensure that print customers have ink when they need it and that they can recycle used cartridges more responsibly. Through the program, an internet-connected printer notifies HP when it is running low on ink. The customer is automatically delivered a replacement cartridge and a postage-paid envelope for returning used cartridges. This strategy connects the company & customer in a joint mission, and saves customers time, hassle and money — up to 50 percent on ink — while being gentler on the planet.

3D printing can help reduce the amount of material needed to make a finished part by realizing complex shapes or redesigning complex assemblies into a single part. These same efficiencies are being created for companies molding and manufacturing products, sharing production capacities, sharing logistics and delivery routes, teaming up to reduce cost and waste.

 

  1. Leverage Digitized Supply Chains to make plastic products quicker and more efficient.

In addition to disrupting business models, you can dive into the circular economy by digitizing the way your products are designed, manufactured and distributed. Digitizing supply chains and production helps turn your ideas into finished products in a more efficient, economical and environmentally conscious way, preserving our planet for generations to come. As example in our plastics industry, additive manufacturing is being enhanced by 3D printing. From initial design to supply chain, logistics and distribution, 3D printing technology is transforming our manufacturing industry. 3D Printing also reduces the amount of raw material needed to make a finished part by realizing complex shapes or redesigning complex assemblies into a single part, and because it requires the transmission of digital files instead of the shipping of tangible goods, 3D printing enables manufacturing on demand. This localizes supply chains, reducing the need to transport physical goods on trucks, cutting time and emissions, and allows for short-run production and greater product customization, opening up new ways for a company to connect with individual customers.

Early adopters are already turning these possibilities into reality. Automotive company BMW is using 3D printing to make lighter tools for its assembly line. Nike uses additive manufacturing to make shoe models, reducing waste by 80 percent, and Siemens has employed 3D printing to create industrial gas turbines, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lessening resources used throughout the production process.

 

  1. Separate business growth from business consumption. 

It doesn’t always take huge technological innovation to make big impacts. You can start getting circular simply by encouraging consumers to reuse or recycle your goods and by integrating recycling in your own manufacturing and distribution channels. Doing this separates the concept of business growth from consumption — a huge departure from the way many companies operate. As example, outdoor clothing company Patagonia is a pioneer in the sustainability world, from making fleece jackets out of plastic bottles to tracking the paper the used to print catalogs, environmental concern is engrained into everything Patagonia does. The company even launched a program called Worn Wear, which not only encourages customers to repair and reuse their Patagonia garments — it provides them with the tools to do it themselves. Urging customers to repair instead of replace clothing is radical in a world infatuated with fast fashion — and this is an important step in the right direction. Guess what??? Patagonia’s customers know they care and the bond between manufacturer and consumer is incredibly strong and loyal as a result. Another example is The North Face’s “Clothes the Loop” program that allows consumers to drop off worn clothes from any brand at collection bins at The North Face stores. After being sent to recycling centers, the used clothes are then repurposed for reuse to extend their life or recycled into raw materials for use in products such as insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys and fibers for new clothing.

These innovative examples of circular economies and supply chains are regenerative by intention, recovering, recycling, reusing materials. It decouples growth from a reliance on increasingly scarce raw materials, benefiting the company, the consumer, and our environment.

 

When it comes to sustainability and recycling, we urge companies to engage in circular economies and supply chains! There’s never be a perfect time to integrate your company into the circular economy and supply chain — but the right time doesn’t require the perfect time.

It’s now. We all live on Planet A — and until Elon Musk or some other genius gets us on Mars, there is no Planet B. If you feel overwhelmed with the task at hand, remember what’s most important is to take ONE STEP at a time, and develop a commitment to head towards your own circular supply chain. No single company can solve the world’s gargantuan problems alone. The move toward a more circular economy and supply chain is a collective effort and requires intention and collaboration both internally within our organizations and externally with our supply chain and customers.

So how do you get started?

As an individual consumer, be mindful of the companies you purchase from and educated on ways to reuse and recycle are crucial first steps to joining the circular economy.

As a company, ask yourself how you can improve the customer and supply chain partner experience while making everyone part of the change — and how this change will benefit all of you in both the short and long term.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com  

 

Sustainable Shopper

6 Tips for being a more Sustainable Consumer

Be a shopper who supports sustainable, ethical manufacturing practices

Consumers make an impact through their shopping habits by being a shopper who supports sustainable, ethical manufacturing practices.

There are several ways to be more eco-friendly in your everyday life by supporting companies that are ethical and sustainable. The move to sustainability in industry is driven by consumer demand, and that’s where you can make a greater impact.

Research

You can add sustainability to your list of ‘must-have’ features for your everyday purchases. There are several consumer websites which rate companies and products according to their ethical and environmental records. This can help you decide which companies to support.

Focus on Quality

Think about foregoing the two-for-one special or prices that seem too good to be true. Poor quality items can be landfill fodder that cost you more in the long run as they need to be constantly replaced. Instead, consider buying quality products that last so you save money and help the environment too.

Keep it Local

Consider shopping from local producers as this gives you the opportunity to ask questions and do research into how items are produced. Local items likely have a smaller carbon footprint because they haven’t traveled long distances to get to you. And, supporting local farmers, producers and manufacturers means you bolster the economy in your community.

Consider Value

We shouldn’t have to pay more just because a product is made more sustainably. Sustainability generally leads organizations to innovation and improvement that can drive costs down, so even if they pay more for sustainable raw materials, they can make up for that added cost by reducing costs in operations and disposal. All things being “relatively equal”, buy Green!

Check Certifications

There are a number of certifications which provide indications that the products you are buying are eco-friendly.

When buying wood or paper products, you can look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo which tells you the product was sustainably sourced. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification mark on your seafood means you are buying responsibly caught fish and you can also shop ‘organic’ for your fresh food and meat.

EnergyStar indicates appliances that are energy efficient and items that carry the Fair Trade seal meet the internationally agreed social, environmental and economic Fairtrade Standards.

Engage

Many consumers are now engaging with their favorite brands to see what steps they are taking to be more environmentally friendly. Get more involved with the products you purchase to learn about the company’s commitment to people and planet. It’s always good to buy from companies that do good.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com  

 

ecas

I’ve mentioned many times to clients why businesses need to leverage their recycling & sustainability initiatives in the market, as part of their CSR “corporate social responsibility” platform. “Doing good without communicating good may not be good enough”.

There’s mountains of evidence today that “doing good” isn’t just good for our planet & for mankind … it’s also good for business and fast becoming the expected norm by consumers.  

When it comes to sustainability and recycling, businesses are increasingly coming to understand the power of communicating their purposeful activities. Unilever and Proctor & Gamble, two of the world’s biggest brand marketers, both recognize that doing good (corporate social responsibility) has a hugely positive impact on brand value & Top Line growth.

The 2013 Cone Communications/Echo global corporate social responsibility (CSR) report showed that:

  • 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality.
  • 92% of consumers would buy a product with a social and/or environmental benefit if given the opportunity, and more than two-thirds (67%) have done so in the past 12 months.

Global consumers have definitive expectations for the role companies should play in addressing social and environmental issues, and are avidly considering CSR in a variety of decisions:

  • Just 6% of consumers believe the singular purpose of business is to make money for shareholders.
  • 91% of consumers believe companies must go beyond the minimum standards required by law to operate responsibly.
  • More than 8 in 10 consider CSR when deciding where to work (81%), what to buy or where to shop (87%), and which products & services to recommend to others (85%).

Don’t get lulled by just stats! In today’s uber Social Media environment, many companies look to utilize connected supply chains that link their recycling and sustainability practices to their corporate communications strategies, to both maximize their sustainability efforts internally and to leverage and showcase their sustainability in the market with employees, customer, and consumers.

We work with many companies helping them to recycle their plastic waste, or make their products using a % of recycled plastic resins, or optimize and reuse their packaging, and in every case we tell our clients how important it is to connect and promote their sustainability and recycling practices to their customers, employees, and consumers. Doing good is not merely a “nice to do”… it’s an essential component for businesses impacting your bottom line, top line, and brand value.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com  

 

 

shedding our sustainable skins

Shedding our sustainable skins isn’t simply “helpful” to creating sustainability and economic growth for our businesses … it’s imperative!

Whether we are in the plastics manufacturing industry, distribution, or retail side, in business if we don’t force ourselves to shed our skins, to try something new and explore alternative methods, if we don’t innovate different approaches and set new goals for our business development, if we don’t shed our skins and get out of our comfort zones, we actually start to deteriorate and our results go backwards.

I’ve heard it said … “a bend in the road isn’t the end of the road, unless we miss the turn”. In today’s millennial marketplace, sustainability and CSR “corporate social responsibility” is that turn. We cannot expect to remain comfortable and remain competitive. We cannot expect to operate without continual innovation, improvement, and change yet sustain a growing improving organization.

When it comes to sustainability and the team we surround our businesses with, whether that’s our raw material supplier, our recycling vendor, our packaging provider, even our sales marketing communications firm, if our team isn’t continually evolving and continually helping our business evolve greener, then we shouldn’t expect that keeping “status quo” will realize us improved results, better performance, or bigger margins.

If we expect to lead, it’s incumbent upon us to “shed our sustainable skins” and innovate.

 

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com  

 

 

 

 

colorful-plastic-resins

Traditionally plastics manufacturers purchase Recycle Grade and other Plastic Resins with a primary focus on material quality, consistency and reliability, and of course match service with bottom line costs per pound to keep economic and environmental sustainability in alignment. Manufacturers consider using recycled plastic resins as a “value add” component to make their product more sustainable and save money in certain market conditions.

But manufacturers interested in sustainability, yet aren’t operating in a connected eco-supply chain, often miss out on achieving their greatest growth value opportunities.

Remember, manufacturers aren’t in business just to be sustainable. Sustainability is how we make our products, but it surely isn’t why we make our products. We make our products to sell them to consumers and our goal is to grow sales, grow market share, and grow revenue every year. We make products more sustainably because we and our customers care about our environment and because data shows, all things relatively equal, consumers seek to buy and retailers seek to sell more sustainably made products from companies with purpose. We also make our products more sustainably because we know sustainability generally leads to efficiency and innovation which leads to improved performance on a manufacturing perspective. We use less, yet we generate more.

For manufacturers that buy recycled plastic resins, expanding and connecting your supply chain more strategically from stand-alone raw material suppliers to raw material suppliers that are strategically connected in an eco-supply chain™ can add tremendous top line value.

As examples, using a no-name brand of recycled plastic resin from a supplier that isn’t connected in an eco-supply chain provides a defined level of bottom line value, (whereas) using an eco-branded grade of recycled resins, a brand that “shouts sustainability” on your products & packaging, adds a completely enhanced level of top line value, (and) using recycled resins that connect and align your brand with a purposeful mission adds another level of enhanced top line value, (and) leveraging your use of sustainable plastic resins in the market by effectively communicating your sustainability to consumers adds another level of enhanced brand value, (and) by differentiating your sustainability over your competitors as a result of your use of an eco-branded recycled plastic resin can expand your shelf space with socially minded retailers, (and) by working with raw material suppliers that are themselves connected in an eco-supply chain™ can add valuable resources to your team like eco-brand communications expertise, packaging optimization expertise, recycling and zero waste management expertise, etc., adding more value your company can leverage to reduce cost and grow revenue.

Point is … businesses must always look to add value, and in addition to bottom line price per pound value that you may be achieving today, by working with raw material suppliers in a connected eco-supply chain™, you may be able to leverage your raw material sourcing to gain top line value that grows revenue and builds a stronger more valuable purposeful brand.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com   

colorful-plastic-resins

Traditionally plastics manufacturers purchase Recycle Grade and other Plastic Resins with a primary focus on material quality, consistency and reliability, and of course match service and support with bottom line costs per pound to keep economic and environmental sustainability in alignment. Manufacturers consider using recycled plastic resins as a “value add” component to make their product more sustainable and save money in certain market conditions.

But manufacturers interested in sustainability yet aren’t operating in a connected eco-supply chain often miss out on achieving their greatest growth value opportunities.

Remember, manufacturers aren’t in business just to be sustainable. Sustainability is how we make our products, but it surely isn’t why we make our products. We make our products to sell them to consumers and our goal is to grow sales, grow market share, and grow revenue every year. We make products more sustainably because we and our customers care about our environment and because data shows, all things relatively equal, consumers seek to buy and retailers seek to sell more sustainably made products from companies with purpose. We also make our products more sustainably because we know sustainability generally leads to efficiency and innovation which leads to improved performance on a manufacturing perspective. We use less, yet we generate more.

For manufacturers that buy recycled plastic resins, expanding and connecting your supply chain more strategically from stand-alone raw material suppliers to raw material suppliers that are strategically connected in an eco-supply chain™ can add tremendous top line value.

As examples, using a no-name brand of recycled plastic resin from a supplier that isn’t connected in an eco-supply chain provides a defined level of bottom line value, (whereas) using an eco-branded grade of recycled resins, a brand that “shouts sustainability” on your products & packaging, adds a completely enhanced level of top line value, (and) using recycled resins that connect and align your brand with a purposeful mission adds another level of enhanced top line value, (and) leveraging your use of sustainable plastic resins in the market by effectively communicating your sustainability to consumers adds another level of enhanced brand value, (and) by differentiating your sustainability over your competitors as a result of your use of an eco-branded recycled plastic resins can expand your shelf space with socially minded retailers, (and) by working with raw material suppliers that are themselves connected in an eco-supply chain™ can add valuable resources to your team like eco-brand communications expertise, packaging optimization expertise, recycling and zero waste management expertise, etc., adding more valuable resources your company can leverage to reduce cost and grow revenue.

Point is … businesses must always look to add value, and in addition to bottom line price per pound value you may be achieving today, by working with raw material suppliers that are connected in an eco-supply chain™, you may be able to leverage your raw material stream to gain top line value to grow revenue and build a stronger more valuable purposeful brand.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com   

image001

Shedding our sustainable skins isn’t simply “helpful” to creating sustainability and economic growth for our businesses … it’s absolutely imperative! In business if we don’t force ourselves to shed our skins, to try something new and explore alternative methods, if we don’t innovate different approaches and set new goals for our business development, if we don’t shed our skins and get out of our comfort zones, we actually start to deteriorate and go backwards. I’ve heard it said … “a bend in the road isn’t the end of the road, unless we miss the turn”. In today’s millennial marketplace, sustainability and social purpose is that turn. We cannot expect to remain comfortable and remain competitive. We cannot expect to operate without continual innovation and improvement and sustain a growing improving organization. When it comes to sustainability and the team we surround our businesses with, whether that’s our resin suppliers, our recycling vendors, or our sales marketing team, if our team isn’t continually evolving and continually helping our business evolve greener, then we shouldn’t expect that keeping “status quo” will realize us improved results, better performance, or bigger margins. If we expect to lead, it’s incumbent upon us to “shed our sustainable skins” and innovate. gearedforGREEN™ is committed to constant & continual innovation and improvement to find the best ways to help customers succeed greener. Through gearedforGREEN eco-supply chains™ we focus on 360 degrees of sustainability for our clients, helping make, market and sell products more sustainably. We surround our clients and eco-supply chain™ partners with ideas and strategies to help us all add innovation and new dimensions to our sustainability and recycling initiatives. www.gearedforgreen.com info@gearedforgreen.com 888-398-(GEAR) 4327