5 Companies That Embrace the Concept of a Circular Economy

There are tons of ways to be a part of a circular economy! Whether its through ride-sharing or car-sharing apps, recycled fashion, or biodegradable products- each time we opt-in, we’re encouraging more companies to go circular.

Apr 15, 2018
Special Collections: REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE

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The circular economy is a system of production and consumption based on reusable and sustainable design. It seeks to eliminate waste from the current linear production system, also known as “take-make-waste” - where raw materials are extracted from the ground, and not long after getting thrown in the trash. A circular, or closed-loop, system, develops products and services in a way that is regenerative, restorative, or reusable. This typically means using recycled materials and ensuring that at the end of the product’s use, it can once again be recycled, or happily decompose back to nature.

This type of a sustainable economy is incredibly important as more and more people around the world become consumers. Research shows that if every country consumed the number of raw materials that the United States does, we would need eight planets to provide all those resources! Since that’s not possible, the circular economy gives us an alternative option that allows us to keep enjoying the products and services we love- plus new and exciting ones- without harming the environment.


This type of a system is not theoretical either! Plenty of companies, both large and small, have begun implementing a circular design to their products.

1. TIMBERLAND: FROM TIRES TO SHOES 

Timberland has partnered with Omni United, a tire manufacturer, and distributor to produce footwear using recycled tires. Footwear is one of the biggest users of virgin rubber. Once Timberland Tires have reached the end of their product life, they are shipped to a recycling facility and turned into crumb rubber. This crumb rubber is processed into sheet rubber for the outsoles of Timberland shoes.

2. JOHNSON CONTROLS: RECYCLED BATTERIES

Johnson Controls has managed to design a battery that is 99% recyclable, an incredible feat for a product so chemically complex and hazardous. By encouraging consumers of conventional batteries to recycle, the company received enough material to prevent hundreds of millions of batteries from ending up in landfills.

3. AQUAZONE: TURNING WASTEWATER INTO FERTILIZER

This Finish company has developed a method of upcycling wastewater into fertilizer! The wastewater is treated biochemically, and solids, water, and nutrients are separated. The water can be used for irrigation or can be further recycled into drinking water; the sludge is nutrient-rich and can be used as an organic fertilizer.

4. VIGGA: A SHARED WARDROBE

The shared economy is another beautiful faction of a circular economy. With a monthly subscription to VIGGA, customers get 20 pieces of children’s clothing. Once the clothes don’t fit anymore, they are returned and the customer receives another set one size bigger.  In this system, the company has an incentive to design high-quality, long-lasting clothes that directly serve their bottom line.

5. RAW FOR THE OCEANS: UPCYCLING OCEAN TRASH INTO CLOTHING

Pharrell Williams has joined the circular economy with his clothing line RAW for the Oceans, which recovers plastic found on the shoreline into wearable fashion, such as jeans, graphic t-shirts, and even kimonos! This is done by breaking down plastics and turning it into a weavableclothing fiber called Bionic Yarn.

There are tons of ways to be a part of the circular economy! Whether its through ride-sharing or car-sharing apps, recycled fashion, or biodegradable products- each time we opt-in, we’re encouraging more companies to go circular.

HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.

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