You probably learned about the standard “3Rs” of sustainability at a very young age. You may have even made it standard practice to “reduce, reuse and recycle” at home and within your organization. But how familiar are you with the other 3Rs? Did you even know that there was more that could, or should, be done to protect the environment?
Closing the “Loop”: Why Companies Need to Make a Concerted Effort to Redesign, Remanufacture and Recover Products, Packaging and More
There has been a lot of buzz in recent years about the uptick in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs as companies of all sizes try to reduce the negative impact of their operations on the environment. Yet, if you were to analyze the progress made thus far, you would see that it is focused squarely on the three fundamental “Rs”: reduce, reuse and recycle. Though absolutely necessary, these siloed efforts aren’t enough to achieve the outcomes we’re striving for as individuals, companies or society as a whole.
If we want to move the needle, we need to think outside the box (or, should we say, triangle). More precisely we need to embrace and apply a “circular economy” model – one that meets all environmental sustainability standards by:
- Pushing the proper recycling of products that are no longer usable;
- Refurbishing products that can be used by another owner; and
- Prolonging the lifecycles of products, packaging and other materials that are destined for a landfill without proper intervention.
To help explain the potential impact that a Circular Economy Program (such as the one that Zebra just introduced) can have on the environment, your business and ours, we invited two Zebras for a roundtable discussion on the Your Edge podcast.
Before you hear what Jenna Stanley, Vice President of Global Support & Managed Services, and Rose Ranker, Vice President of Services Product Management and Application Development, have to say, it may help to have a little background on the origins of the “circular economy” concept. (If you want to skip the history lesson, you can listen to the podcast now.)
Then and Now: How (and Why) the Circular Economy Model Has Evolved Over the Last Several Centuries
Though there is no clear origin date, we do know that the idea of circularity and cycles within systems has ancient roots within philosophy. We also know that, if designed and executed correctly, the circular economy can elicit the regenerative development of businesses with both economic and environmental benefits. Once the economic activity of an organization is built, it can then be continuously rebuilt by keeping products and materials in use through the ideals of recovery, refurbishment and, in some cases, redesign.
Perhaps that’s why “practical applications to modern economic systems and industrial processes…have gained momentum since the late 1970s,” and why the circular economy has been a subject of conversation and innovation in the decades since.
Some say that the first significant signs of the circular economy were seen in Germany in the early 1990s as issues regarding natural resource and raw material use and waste arose. Others claim that the concept really began to grow in the late 1990s after the concept was introduced in China to emphasize waste recycling.
In reality, though, this idea didn’t come onto the radar of most companies until the 2000s once societal interest in sustainability started to grow. Even then, action wasn’t immediate – at least not on a mass scale. We can confirm it is now imminent, though.
According to Supply Chain Management Review, 70% of supply chain leaders are preparing to invest in the circular economy within the next year. They need to find alternative ways to meet seasonal demand for new and current product development without dramatically increasing their carbon footprint or causing undue waste. Circular economy models widely support initiatives geared toward fighting the impact of climate change, as they encourage and implement proper techniques in support of all 6Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, redesign, remanufacture and recover.
At Zebra, we are consistently and actively encouraging awareness of the climate crisis, which remains an extremely critical environmental issue. On Earth Day 2020, we encouraged our employees to mobilize around the Earth Day Network’s global theme of Climate Action. Now, we are taking it one step further by encouraging our customers and channel partners to take their own “climate action” by participating in Zebra’s newly implemented Circular Economy Program.
Find out why Zebra recently implemented a full-scale Circular Economy Program, how it works and the impact that it will have on both the environment and our mutual business economics. Listen to our conversation with Jenna Stanley and Rose Ranker now: