23rd December 2021 All Posts Sustainability in the Early Years

The Future is Circular

Welcome to the Childcare Marketing blog, written by me, George. Here at Childcare Marketing, we have a vision of a brighter future. A future where humans live within their own means, minimising their negative impacts on the planet. In our blogs, we mainly cover key marketing concepts that will ensure your business’ success but in this particular blog we will talk about an important sustainability concept that could lead us towards a brighter future as a species. This blog will focus specifically on the circular economy and the ways in which this concept can help your business in taking a step towards becoming more sustainable and in turn, creating a better world for the next generation.

The circular economy concept was created in response to flaws in the current linear ‘Take, Make and Dispose’ pattern where resources are extracted from the environment, formed into a product, and then disposed of. Once upon a time, this wasn’t such a problem as there was an abundance in resources and the demand for products was low in line with the population size and the affluence of this population. However, several factors have changed in recent years, meaning that the current system is no longer sustainable. Both the depletion of resources and the exponential growth of the human population have led to a situation where drastic changes need to be made. These situational factors are inevitable but the system under which materials are processed can be changed. The answer is the circular economy. 

The circular economy is a concept that focuses on waste prevention rather than waste management. It is modelled around a natural living system; in the way that the waste of one organism is the food for another which means there are no leakages of energy. In the nitrogen cycle, dead animals are decomposed by bacteria and fungi allowing them to thrive while also creating ammonium as a by-product which then becomes the nitrogen in the air and finally makes its way into plants where it’s eaten by animals again. Using natural processes like the nitrogen cycle as a model for business processes is a great method for waste prevention!

A prime example of this model already in action is the industrial ecosystem found in Kalundborg, Denmark. In this system of industrial symbiosis, different industries act in harmony using closed loop flows of energy, water, materials, wastes etc (see diagram below). For example, process steam from the Asneas heat and power station is used by an oil refinery and two separate biotechnology companies which led to an estimated 20,000 tonne reduction in oil consumption. This perfect circular system is a great model for sustainable business processes; however, this level of interconnected complexity can be very difficult to achieve. Other business’ such as Walt Disney Restaurants apply circular economy principles in a more simplistic way by sending their waste food, cooking oil and grease to a nearby anaerobic digestion facility. The organic waste is then converted into renewable biogas which is used to generate electricity. Perhaps your business produces bio waste that could be put to better use?

Our current linear system focuses on waste management techniques such as recycling which although beneficial, involves a number of energy consuming activities and is never as effective in practice as it is in theory. The circular economy urges you to consider other methods before simply recycling or disposing of your waste. One technique is through maintenance, by prolonging the products life, it means that the need for waste management and the demand for raw materials are both reduced. It is also a great money saver as it means new purchases don’t need to be made! Secondly, reusing products or redistributing them to other people/companies improves the products lifecycle. Some business’s primary purpose is to assist with the redistribution of products such as the app ‘Too Good To Go’ where food waste is reduced by allowing people to purchase food at a highly discounted price or sometimes free just before it goes out of date. Finally, the refurbishment or remanufacturing of products allows materials to stay in use and removes the need for new materials to be extracted. A company called ‘RypeOffice’ optimises the power of this technique by collecting old and broken furniture and remanufacturing/refurbishing them for new or renovated office spaces. 

The diagram below shows the technical cycles which indicates that maintenance, reusing/redistribution, and refurbishment/remanufacturing are better options than recycling as they return the materials to a more advanced section in the supply chain meaning less work and energy is required to return them into a fully functioning product again. The biological cycle section shows how biological products can be used in sustainable, circular ways such as through the production of biogas or how it can be cascaded into the use in other processes. 

Above are just a few techniques in which you can remove the need for waste management and ultimately, make your business more sustainable today. It may be a good idea to map out your supply chain from start to finish and apply some of the above techniques to work out exactly where you can reduce your business’ waste. Although none of these ideas are revolutionary, you would be surprised by the monetary savings and the carbon footprint improvements that can be achieved by carrying out simple tasks like these. One major barrier to taking up circular activities is that they seem very time consuming and more effort that what they’re worth. However, in many cases this isn’t true and there are already organisations that’s purpose are to make these practices easier. For example, a company called ‘Soenecs’ based in the south of England have a scheme called tech-takeback where they come directly to your home/business and pick up your electrical waste. Perhaps you have waste electrical equipment that has been accumulating that could be collected? Many similar organisations exist to help your business on the journey to circularity and it takes minimal research to see how you can make your practices more sustainable. 

One step towards sustainability would be to outsource your marketing efforts to ‘Childcare Marketing’. We love working with companies which have the intention of becoming more sustainable and share our vision of creating a brighter future. That’s why for every new client we obtain, we plant a new tree, and all of our systems are digital which removes the need for paper files. Therefore, we not only increase the number of trees in the biosphere, but we also reduce the demand for trees to be cut down. Thirdly, we improve your company’s automation which massively improves the productivity of your business and means more time can be focused into making your practices more sustainable and circular. Our affordable services will not only lower your carbon footprint but will also elevate your childcare business to that next level that you’ve always envisioned. Get in contact with us today for a free consultation. 

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About the Author

Marketing Lead at Connect Childcare