A(nother) Beginner’s Guide to Making Circular Products

Johanna Tunlid
Jul 10 · 7 min read

Dear CEO. Please measure success in more than just sales. Now!

The first step in this transformation is to push the leaders of product companies to change their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Traditionally, a company produces a good using valuable natural resources, sells the goods, collects the money and goes on it’s merry way. But every product has an extended lifecycle where it is used, abused, misused, discarded, resold, repaired, returned, dismantled or recycled. No corporation or startup can ignore their responsibility in this extended lifecycle anymore. But what not to forget, there is also a lot of untapped value in this that will have the additional benefit of future-proofing your business. When new legislation comes into place, you are already in shape. When resource scarcity becomes reality, you are already owning your own material loops. Expand your KPI’s beyond product sales.

Start Your Second-Hand Shop

The most simple is to start your own second-hand shop. If you are a company that is aware of the waste it creates due to poor product utilization, make sure that you have an online marketplace where your customers can resell their goods. A good entry-level example of this is IKEA in Sweden that offers free ads for anyone willing to sell an IKEA product on Blocket, a very popular second-hand marketplace.

Refurbish Your Products

The next level is to own your own second life cycle and offer refurbished products at a reduced cost to new customers. Every time you lose a product to a landfill you are also losing the energy, natural resources, and labor that made it happen. Or even worse, you risk the product being dismantled by unqualified people and exposing them to hazardous waste. Refurbishing will also give your company a unique insight into the way you make your products. As a bonus, you get to connect with your customers on a whole new level.

Lease Your Products

If you would like to get serious, you can start with subscription services like Z Tyre. A lot of traditional CEOs will reject this model outright claiming the sales numbers will suffer since everyone will get exactly what they need and nothing more. The advantage of a steady revenue stream will quickly overcome any worry. And the idea of getting “exactly what you need and nothing more” lies in the heart of circular practices anyway.

Make Your Products Work Better as Services

Going all-in is the natural next step. Turn your products into real services by making them connected. By making them repairable and longer-lasting. By making them upgradeable and streamlining your value chain to deliver your best product anywhere. Without the unnecessary overhead and complicated logistics.

A View from Above

Perspectives about Tech, Design & Strategy from the Swedish Above Agency

Johanna Tunlid

Written by

Sustainability Manager at Above

A View from Above

Perspectives about Tech, Design & Strategy from the Swedish Above Agency