Design Principles In A Circular Economy: HolyPoly’s Way Of Rethinking Plastics

In Episode 40 of MING Labs’ podcast Lost In Transformation, we talk to Fridolin Pflueger, Co-Founder at HolyPoly.

Listen to this episode to learn how to rethink plastics, how HolyPoly works with circular business models, and which sustainability transformation companies will have to tackle in the future.

3 Main Takeaways From This Episode

01Changing our perspective of plastics: We need to design products in a circular manner. “Of course, we don’t want plastic in the ocean. That’s why we want to recycle it.” Frido highlights how the misconception of plastics can become a huge problem. Plastics are quite often seen as a ‘bad’ material, while switching to paper or metal seems like the more sustainable thing to do. “They are heavier, they’re more energy intensive in production, and they have a higher temperature at which they melt. So it’s again: More energy, and all that means CO2.”

The solution where HolyPoly comes in is to have a proper waste management infrastructure in place, and to design products in a circular manner from the start. With these practices, plastic is a great sustainable material that can be used and reused many times. “It’s very counter-intuitive because plastics are labeled as being ‘bad’ for the environment. But in fact, if we use them right, they’re the contrary.”(Listen from 18:18 min)

02The long journey of sustainability: Taking a step-by-step approach with Circularity Scoping. “It’s not about changing 180 degrees now. […] Our approach is to go step by step and identify the step that makes sense now.” An important part of HolyPoly’s work when thinking of the next step to take with clients is about telling a story. “What will be a story that makes sense? That is compelling, emotional, but also can’t be considered greenwashing?”

HolyPoly calls it Circularity Scoping: A three to six weeks process where they analyze the situation, benchmark what’s out there, and think about the problem from different aspects — from the material side, the design engineering, production and marketing side. Once that’s done, they synthesize and put together a few options for a pilot project. “And then we’re able to start immediately. When we think about starting, it’s not about finishing because we’re not going to get it done tomorrow anyway, but we really have to get going.” (Listen from 11:50 min)

03 Unlearn what you know: Get ready to change habits and reinvent business models. When asked about the sustainability transformation that companies will have to tackle in the future, Frido refers to it as an industrial revolution. “Most of the rules that we know and take for granted can’t be applied anymore. And the rules are not yet written, that’s very important. Anyone who is getting active in this field has to go into uncharted territory basically. Do stuff that’s not been done before. And fail, of course.”

As things will become more inconsistent in the future, HolyPoly’s step by step approach helps to work with a lot of hesitancy on the client side. Pilot projects work as initial prototypes to get buy-in in a larger organization, and to slowly prepare for bigger changes. “It’s not easy to change your habits. And that’s what needs to happen at scale.” (Listen from 20:21 min)

Jump and listen to each chapter from their timestamp here.

Interested in more stories from Lost In Transformation? Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or Buzzsprout to not miss our upcoming episodes.

Related Reading: Cutting Through The Noise: How BASF Makes Digitalization Tangible Across The Business

Learn how BASF started transforming their company, moving from bureaucratic processes to agile working, and find out how each business unit now successfully leads customer-centric digitalization for their plant.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store