The Circular Economy Is Going Mainstream

English: Circles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Circles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now you can lease a cell phone and sell back your used clothes to the original brand that made them. Are we finally moving towards a zero-waste economy?

The circular economy, in which companies move from a system of waste to one of reuse, has been gaining in popularity for years. A new report claims that this model of doing business has finally moved in to the mainstream, as trends like urbanization, rising energy costs, resource shortages, and a related trend, “the sharing economy,” take hold.

JWT‘s trend report, The Circular Economy, defines the circular economy as a system where manufacturers squeeze out as much value as possible from their resources, with the end goal of having a closed loop supply chain in which waste disappears altogether.

There are a number of ways that brands can participate in the economy. One of the most popular methods is selling the temporary ownership of goods–the Zipcar model. But this isn’t just about carsharing. As the report points out, mobile operators like Vodafone have started leasing phones, Dutch company Mud Jeans has begun leasing jeans for €5.95 per month (customers can trade them in after a year), and Patagonia lets customers sell old items on the “Used Gear” section of its website for store credit.

“Not every brand is Patagonia where there are so many elements in line with the circular economy,” admits Marian Berelowitz of JWT, a marketing communications firm. “Brands are aware of elements, but not the whole idea.”

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