8 Must watch TED talks for small business owners
Feeling a drop in motivation? TED talks never fail to fire us up. Here are some of our favourites......Read More
The ‘circular economy’ is an increasingly popular term as consciousness of sustainability grows. What is the circular economy and what opportunities does it offer UK SMEs?
‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is an ever more familiar mantra as environmental awareness increases. Reduced to its simplest form, the circular economy is an expression of these principles.
Unlike a traditional ‘linear economy’ – where the mantra may be fairly be expressed as ‘make, use, dispose’ – a circular economy keeps resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value then recovering the maximum amount of materials to use them again (recycle, reuse).
As sustainability focused charity Wrap explains, the benefits of a circular economy include:
There are both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors moving us towards a circular economy: the push is the increasing price – both monetary and economic – of the old ‘take, make, waste’ economy; the pull is the untapped opportunity to offer products and services that fit into a circular economy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the environmental focus of the EU will steadily increase the ‘push’ impetus. As edie.net recently reported, the European Commission has argued that a circular economy is necessary in a world with finite resources and a booming population. The EC’s new circular economy package will include fresh legislation on waste, fertilisers, and water reuse, “strong commitments” on eco-design, strategies for handling plastics and chemicals, and “major” funding for innovation.
Documents quoted by edie suggest there will be “targeted action” in food, construction, industrial and mining waste, and public procurement.
While measures will likely initially focus on larger corporates, small to medium sized enterprises should examine their consumption, especially if they are in the aforementioned ‘priority’ sectors. Current best practice should be followed and may be adequate for initial EC rules.
The proposed Eco-design plan (for 2015-17) is trickier to predict. The focus will be on developing product requirements but, while the current Eco-design directive focuses only on energy efficiency, the next one will consider resource efficiency issues such as reparability, durability, and recyclability.
Manufacturers would be advised to consider changes to their products, bearing in mind that Extended Producer Responsibility schemes will mandate producers to pay for the recycling of their products.
But the circular economy goes further than this: innovative companies can revolutionise the way they interact with customers, potentially boosting profits as they do so.
You may think that your business could not offer anything relevant to the circular economy. But even simple strategies could make a difference. In addition to recycling your own waste, you could take customers’ too: options range from old bottles to used-up aerosols and more. Done correctly, you might be able to actually make money, allowing you to incentivise customers, reduce prices or increase profits.
Going one step further, some companies have already chosen to take back their used products at the end of their life, offering a discount on new purchases in exchange. This can be a win-win if the producers can reuse or recycle components.
One step further is a new model of collaborative consumerism, which, as a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation explains, means a move away from ownership. Instead, consumers access products on demand, essentially renting or leasing them. For businesses, this opens the door to more frequent touch points and greater brand loyalty.
For many SMEs, this may seem unattainable. If the digital revolution is anything to go by, a few disruptors may blaze a trail into the circular economy that others follow later (and less profitably). For most of the UK’s smaller companies understanding the shift to circularity and making some modest initial changes should be enough (for now).
Awareness of environmental issues is central to the circular economy. Renewable business energy arguably plays a crucial role in this, and showing your company’s commitment can help you stay ahead of the competition.
Perceptions of green business energy as overpriced and unreliable are now outdated. A substantial and growing proportion of the UK’s business electricity comes from renewable sources. SMEs may be surprised at how cheap green business electricity can be.
SwitchMyBuiness.com offers a comprehensive comparison of sustainable business electricity deals – including 100% renewable deals – and switch supplier in just 20 minutes. Just complete the form at the top right of this page or call 0330 010 0251.
Great customer service from Bhavni Manek to set up new business contracts...
"Had an excellent customer service experience with Bhavni Manek to set up new business contracts and run me through all the details. She was very efficient at finding quotes and answering questions and made me feel reassured about the transition to new energy suppliers."This review was posted by Emma Thomsen on the 18th of August 2017
Jessica Purnell at SwitchMyBusiness has …
"Jessica Purnell at SwitchMyBusiness has been most helpful and very efficient. Our business has made a real saving on our electricity supply and all it took was a few minutes on the telephone. Thank you"This review was posted by David Hanley on the 18th of August 2017
Mark Weeks did an excellent job in …
"Mark Weeks did an excellent job in giving me all the information I needed and explaining everything."This review was posted by Terry on the 18th of August 2017
This the second time I have used …
"This the second time I have used SwitchMyBusiness and i have received excellent service from Jessica Purnell on both occasions.I would recommend anyone to use this company as you know that they are acting independently and trying to get the best deal for you."This review was posted by H Barrington on the 18th of August 2017
Mark Weeks was my contact point with …
"Mark Weeks was my contact point with this company and I have been extremely pleased with the way in which he explained everything to me in an informative, friendly way."This review was posted by Mr CHRISTOPHER GEORGE on the 18th of August 2017