Lately, we hear a lot about Circular Economy. What does the expression mean, and why does it arouse such a considerable interest? Here at The ID Factory we found our way to apply the principles of Circular Economy to packaging. Now we want to talk about our experience and try to inspire others to take similar measures.
Circular Economy is a well-theorized attempt to create new economic models in which industries generate as little environmental impact as possible. According to this approach, sustainability is the result of a series of good practices that challenges the traditional four-stage “linear model” (take resources – transform them into products – consume – dispose) in favor of an ideal circular model. According to the circular approach, each human activity should either produce no negative impact or transform its damaging footprint into an imput that can be useful in another activity. From this perspective, waste generated by some human actions becomes a valuable resource to fuel other activities.
Circular Economy sets before us 7 key points: prioritise regenerative resources, use waste as a resource, design for the future, extend the lifespan of existing goods, increase of joint value, incorporate digital technology, and rethink the actual business models.
This approach implies that renewable, non-toxic resources have to be used in the most efficient way in order to preserve the environment and maximize energy efficiency. “Waste” as we know it is a concept that does not exist anymore: through reuse and recycling, waste streams are transformed in secondary resources and useless waste is therefore minimized – the journey of a material or product is no more a “cradle to death” pattern, but a “cradle to cradle” one.
In order to create joint value in a circular economy, companies should work together throughout the whole supply chain. Cross-sectoral cooperation can be the key to implement new forms of positive interdependence – for example, it happens when the waste products of a company can be used with a different purpose to match the needs of a different industry.
The ID Factory experience ranks as one of this kind. Every month we dispatch dozens of orders, and we found out the best way to minimize the environmental footprint of this operation. Some time ago we started collecting used packaging and re-using it. Shoeboxes, coffee capsules boxes… basically almost any kind of packaging sent to us from our suppliers and customers.
In order to convey our choice we use a special kind of recyclable paper tape, and we hope to provide a feasible example of small-scale circular economy.
The choice we made enabled us to maximise the lifespan of a product (the various boxes and containers) which otherwise was meant to become waste after a single use. We just need to apply some tape and we get perfectly good boxes that are ready to embrace their second life carrying our products (mainly our QR code labels so far) around the world.
The ID Factory joined circular economy with enthusiasm, and we are eager to find new ways to make our business more and more active in this regard. Our little experiment has proven that there is no need to turn a workflow upside-down in order to embrace a new approach to sustainability: you just have to examine your environmental footprint and find a feasible way to make it as harmless as possible without hindering your business.