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5 circular economy examples that will make you swoon

Just as we’ve evolved over time to embrace single use design, now we face the challenge to transform business as usual to lead to more eco-friendly consumption models. That’s where the circular economy comes in.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about five brilliant circular economy examples that will broaden your understanding of the incredible strategies for innovation that close the waste loop.

What is the circular economy?

The circular economy rethinks our consumer and business culture in a way that promotes extending the longevity of products, minimizing the waste, emissions and pollution they produce, ensuring that any byproducts of manufacturing are compatible with the natural environment and adapting business to promote communal ownership to maximize resource efficiency.

In short, it provides businesses the tools to earn money sustainably without depleting the earth’s resources. At every stage of a product’s lifespan there are ways to tinker with business models to reduce waste and even shape our cultural habits and attitudes toward waste. All the consumer has to do is participate.

Five Circular Economy Examples that Close the Waste Loop

We’ve included ourselves on the list, because no other coffee company has closed the loop as well as us.

1. Moriondo Coffee’s membership-based single serve coffee

Yes, we decided to include our own company in this list. Moriondo Coffee’s approach to the circular economy provides a machine to users via membership. The membership package is based on the number of coffee cups a communal space (such as an office) orders to drink each month.

By including a pay-per-service membership model, rather than a coffee machine ownership model, the machine has a longer life-cycle. The machine is also energy-efficient. The only waste byproduct made by the consumer is coffee grinds, which are compostable. And Voila! Much less waste is produced as a result.

2. Loop is leading the reusable packaging revolution

Loop updates the delivery service to deliver to and from consumers’ households. The buyer searches the Loop website for products that come in reusable containers. Loop works with a variety of large brands, so you can still receive products you’re familiar with.

Then, the company delivers products that in a tote that the customer keeps at home. When the product runs out, instead of throwing away the container, the customer can drop the canisters and bottles back into the tote and request a free pick-up. This two-way product packaging model effectively closes the loop for packaging waste.

3. Phoenix Waste Program: Palm waste transformed into feedstock

The municipal waste department of the city of Phoenix, Arizona is investing lots of resources into promoting circular economy businesses. That’s why it formed a partnership with Palm Silage to tackle the problem of palm waste. Because palms are more fibrous than other kinds of plants, they take longer to decompose, and they can’t be composted.

Instead of sending them to the landfill, Palm Silage makes a blend of the palms with other food items diverted from the waste stream like dates, grains and canola to create a healthy animal feed blend. The blend is sold to livestock farmers to feed to cows, sheep and horses. The program keeps 34,000 tons of palm fronds out of the landfill.

4. Rent the Runway: Clothing rental for designer fashion

Women know that shopping for outfits that they’ll only wear once is truly a wasteful dilemma. Yet, our image remains more important than ever with the photo-sharing apps online. So, Rent the Runway solves the problem by allowing its customers to wear something once without trashing the garments. This way, the useful life of a garment extends because it gets worn multiple times by different users.

It’s a waste-reducing dream come true for Instagram influencers and party-goers who only wear outfits once or twice. By subscribing to its “database” of clothing, you can reserve an outfit for several days to wear to a one-off special occasion.

5. Library of Things: A novel way to share tools and appliances

Do you want a crowdfunded library of actual objects to come to your neighborhood? This is exactly the value proposition that the UK-based Library of Things promises to its users. Going beyond books, the library takes a concept we’re all familiar with (book borrowing), and updates it to include other stuff.

Imagine borrowing sewing machines, pruning shears, vacuum cleaners or electric drills. You get access to all of this expensive equipment for just a small membership fee. Meanwhile, it eliminates the need for each household to own equipment that typically sits in storage apart from one or two days out of the year.

If you love the idea of the circular economy as much as we do, why not try it out yourself? You can schedule a free trial of Moriondo’s Coffee machine. It serves delicious single-serve Italian coffee drinks in a matter of seconds with minimal waste.

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Erica Eller

#Sustainability content marketer specializing in climate tech and ESG | GARP SCR & GRI Sustainability Professional certs (in progress) | https://ericaeller.com