The business world is changing. The demands and expectations of consumers are changing. And it’s a change fuelled by a growing focus on circular and sustainable practices.
The retail industry is part of this shift, and to survive - to be sustainable - businesses need to better position themselves in this ever-evolving landscape. A landscape that is looking more and more green.
Since 2004, 3R Group has partnered with New Zealand firms in a wide variety of industries to address one critical aspect that affects businesses of all sizes and shapes – that of waste.
Waste is a great place to start when looking at sustainability, says Chief Executive Adele Rose, because all roads lead there. “Critically, waste is the end outcome for the consumer when they buy your product.”
This is where 3R sees the future of business - not with the linear economic model of “take, make, waste” which is unsustainable, but with a circular model.
A circular economy is one where the lifecycles of materials are maximised, usage optimised and at the end of life all materials are reutilised. And it’s not just the future, it’s here now.
One of New Zealand’s most well-known brands, Resene, has circular thinking at the heart of its PaintWise™ programme. Over the last 12 years, 3R has helped Resene develop the programme and collect, process and recycle hundreds of thousands of litres of paint and tonnes of steel and plastic packaging.
Rose sees numerous benefits for Resene – from brand reputation to increased footfall as customers return unwanted paint for safe disposal.
Adopting a circular model requires this sort of multi-party collaboration, she says, and that’s certainly where 3R can help. In the case of paint recycling, 3R have a partnership with Resene and Allied Concrete called PaintCrete™, which uses paint as an additive in making concrete. “In true circular economy fashion, one industry’s waste becomes another’s resource.”
3R can help a business of any age, experience and size to better manage their waste, Adele says.
3R have also developed programmes of their own, such as the child car seat recycling programme SeatSmart. This user-pays scheme collects, dismantles and recycles the majority of components which make up unwanted or expired child car seats. Here 3R has partnered with retailers, Plunket and councils to provide drop-off points and with Department of Corrections community work programmes for dismantling.
As SeatSmart programme manager Toni Bye points out, retailers of nursery goods are well aware that some things can be replaced by greener alternatives such as re-useable nappies or can be designed to last longer or be repairable. However, other products like child car seats are required by law. “In this case, recycling at end of life is the best option,” Bye says.
The movement to ban single use plastic at retail shows how design is key. Manufacturers and retailers need to be smarter to avoid unnecessary packaging, which increasingly isn’t just damaging to the environment but brand reputation too, Rose says.
It’s certainly a challenging time, but that’s what makes for great business opportunities, she says. “Businesses can’t expect a premium for green or sustainable practises - this is simply the way consumer demand is growing.” Through collaboration with 3R, retailers can start making inroads into reducing waste by tapping into their proven experience and know-how.
3R Group Ltd