Catherine Weetman talks to Jo Chidley, a circular economy expert, chemist, herbal botanist, and co-founder of TWO successful circular economy businesses, Beauty Kitchen (which is on a mission to create the most effective, natural and sustainable beauty products in the world) and the business we’re focusing on today, ReRe. ReRe is a buy anywhere, return anywhere, reuse anywhere alternative to single-use packaging, helping retailers, brands and consumers to switch to Reuse & Refills across a wide range of products from milk to moisturisers and pasta to protein.
Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle, tells us how the Loop reusable packaging platform is bringing the convenience of prefill to high streets everywhere. TerraCycle and Loop are tackling the root causes of waste, including single use and disposable items.
We hear why they chose prefill, and why reuse needs to ‘feel disposable’. Tom explains how they are helping big brands and retailers to make the business case, feel confident about moving forward, and scale up from pilots to in-store roll-outs.
Rae Stanton is the Earthcare Retail Lead for Lush Cosmetics UK and Ireland, using Permaculture principles to provide environmental best practice insight and guidance on packaging, sourcing regenerative ingredients and much more.
We find out how Lush embeds Permaculture and regenerative agriculture approaches into its business practices, and why Lush realised it needed to ‘own the packaging solution’ instead of relying on municipal recycling collections. Rae explains how Lush engaged its customers in designing ‘bring-back’ solutions, including asking them how much the reward should be.
Do ‘headline-grabbing’ initiatives that are just a tiny bit ‘less bad’ risk undermining the circular economy? Instead, should we focus on new systems, products and materials that help regenerate resources, living systems and communities? Regenerative solutions could provide a clearer path forward and encourage people (and business and policymakers) to ‘do more good’.
These recent examples of plastic circular economy initiatives illustrate what we could describe as the good, the (less) bad and the ugly. They show why it’s important to consider the ‘big picture’ for circular and sustainability ideas, so you can think about how to maximise positive impact and avoid unforeseen consequences (and reputational risk!).
Brian Bauer explores how we can use circular approaches for plastic packaging, so we get the benefits of plastic, without the impacts of mismanaged plastic waste. Brian works with Algramo, a Chilean startup that refills product by the gram from vending machines. These refills provide better value for money as well as offering convenience and reducing waste. Algramo is working with Unilever, Colgate Palmolive and other brands, and is expanding to the US and Europe.
With Algramo, Brian focuses on connecting stakeholders to help catalyze reusable packaging systems on a globally significant scale.
We review the last 9 episodes, exploring key themes & summarising what we’ve learned. Plus, we hear from Geoff van Sonsbeeck, on womenswear brand Baukjen’s packaging approach.
The wonders of online communication mean we’ve been to the United States, Jordan, Uganda, Canada and Ghana in the last nine episodes. We’ve talked to a start-up looking for funding, two social enterprises, two charities, a community cooperative, and several businesses that have been growing for 15-20 years.
If we look at the circular economy strategies of these organisations: five are helping to ‘Close the Loop and Regenerate’, two are ‘Slowing the Flow’ of materials through more durable, circular designs, and two are ‘Intensifying the Flow’ through sharing services.
We’ll also look at how these different organisations are creating value for different groups – for their customers, suppliers, employees, communities – and for our planet.
In Episode 13 we talk to Beth Massa, founder of Ozarka. Beth and her husband Michael have created a collection of food-to-go containers, called ARK Reusables, so people can replace single-use plastics with reusable, returnable containers.
David Bassetti is co-founder of 3D Seed. When David moved to Spain around 10 years ago, he noticed how much plastic was being wasted, and was frustrated that it became litter, instead of being recycled into new materials.
David developed a simple way of grinding up plastic to recycle it into a feedstock for 3D Printing. 3D Seed sets up small-scale projects to grind up everyday plastic waste, such as PET soft-drinks and water bottles, and then to 3D Print it into small objects, as a way to engage people in seeing waste plastic as a valuable resource. The kit uses very little energy and can run on solar power.
Is circular sustainable packaging high on your priority list? Or are you risking reputation damage through single-use, non-recyclable and badly designed packaging – which is also costing your more money?
Here we show how circular economy principles provide a 5 step design checklist to help you design more sustainable primary, secondary and transit packaging
Catherine’s blog for The Low Carbon Business Network hosted by the University of Derby