Regardless of providing products or services, waste can turn into real assets. Here’s why and how to get on board.
Tech company Dell makes a brilliant example. They have launched a new jewellery line with
recycled gold from their e-waste product components. After finding out only 12,5 % of the
worldwide 20 – 50 tons of e-waste, Dell found a creative way to narrow the gap. It turned out
that recycled gold had a 99 % less environmental impact than traditionally mined gold. Good for
the company, good for the environment – and good for the consumers – as they are enabled to
take a more active part in the circular economy themselves.
Offering products in a completely different field might seem illogical and damaging for the
brand consistency. However, Dell sticks to their core and their same “building blocks” of
components. From a circular economy point of view, spreading out is a powerful mechanism as
long as it can relate. And let us now relate this to your company. Is it product based? Think of
what materials are used and what is left as scrap and excess.
Example: You make garments for institutional use and are left with small leftover patches. The
solid material makes an environmentally friendly wash cloth without the micro plastics found in
the cheap supermarket variants.
Within the service field, think of what you provide and to whom. It can be indirect or direct
Example: You deliver financial consultancy and offer an additional service where the client’s
monetary use can be redirected to environmentally friendly investments or those that gain the
local society. Or, one of your meeting rooms can be rented out cheap when not in use, e.g. to an
organization you want to be associated with.
The main thought for both products and services is to create something that otherwise would
not be to put into use. And the uttermost important factor is to root it in usefulness for the
receiver and purpose for the society or environment at large. Reimagine the whole concept of
waste. Why is it waste in the first place? Can it be “gold” for other uses? Can the costs
associated with turning it into something else be outgrown by a new source of revenue? Make
use of “weak” connections in your network as they often are the best for fresh input. I
encourage you to think long-term. A durable dedication will also strengthen your brand over
Transforming waste will bring about positive effects in multiple ways, not only for the cause it is
serving a purpose. Nor for an additional stream of income by itself. It can add motivation and
commitment to you and your colleagues. It can gain positive recognition in the media. You can
become a thought leader within your field for others to follow. You can attract the brightest
minds increasingly demanding companies to step up their CSR game.
From a creative point of view, this sidestepping the ordinary through alternative thinking can
spark innovative problem solving and case approaches across your business as a whole. A
circular approach does not just turn waste into opportunities, but a finite business to become
something greater. In both senses of the word.