Addressing the weakest links to advance circular supply chains

Aug 16, 2018

How to strengthen and grow the circular economy remains an open question. How do we convert supply chains from the current linear, "take, make and dispose" model into one where the maximum amount of inherent value contained in products is recaptured and retained? What role can companies play in that process?

Let's break down the circular supply chain into five major "links" to understand where companies can best contribute.

1. First, you need materials constituted in such a way that they can be broken down and reformulated into something similar to the raw material from which they originally were made — with little waste and at a cost less than that of virgin material. We call these recyclable materials.

A number of metals, some plastics and certain types of paper are examples. These materials exist because research dollars were spent developing them. For instance, recently McDonald's and Starbucks announced a partnership with Closed Loop Partners to fund the development of new recyclable or compostable drinking cups. (However, not all materials can be constituted this way. In some cases, we will need to substitute materials that can be recycled for ones that can't.)

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