Environmental damage and climate change are becoming increasingly visible. Therefore, production and consumer behavior must be combined with environmental goals. A new white paper from DHL shows the benefits of the circular economy.
- Fashion and consumer electronics: These are the industries where the circular economy has the greatest impact, but also offers opportunities.
- Paradigm shift necessary: A holistic approach is required.
- Logistics industry as an important driverbecause it controls the flow of goods and information.
Environmental damage and signs of climate change are becoming increasingly visible. Growing mountains of waste are threatening our natural ecosystems and human health. Society and business are called upon to make the future more sustainable. In essence, sustainability ensures that global patterns of production and consumption are compatible with environmental goals. To help solve both the climate crisis and other environmental challenges such as water use and waste generation, DHL has published a new white paper, Delivering on Circularity, which takes a detailed look at how the circular economy can help address such challenges .
Circular economy: reshaping supply chains
“Put simply, circular economy is all about the five words that start with R: Reduce, Repair , Resell, Refurbish and Recycle. That means we need to reduce, repair, resell, refurbish and reuse, and redesign supply chains accordingly to make the transition to a true circular economy,” explains Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer at DHL. “Innovative logistics solutions can advance the circular economy. They are important drivers for enabling better flows of goods and information. This applies in particular when it comes to optimizing production quantities and materials, extending product life cycles, introducing new usage models or developing new solutions for recycling old products.”
Ecological impacts of fashion and consumer electronics
The most decisive impetus for promoting the circular economy could come from the fashion and consumer electronics industry. Industry leaders are already actively participating in a paradigm shift towards a circular economy, announcing ambitious goals and launching a wide range of initiatives. The potential positive impact that the circular economy could have in these two industries is significant. About 20 percent of the clothes made are never worn and smartphones are often replaced after two or three years. Together, both sectors generate over six percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Many non-renewable resources such as rare earths and metals are required for the production of electronic devices. In addition, these industries are associated with significant land use (comparable to more than the area of Germany and Switzerland combined), significant water use (comparable to 40 percent of the annual water use of the US population), and significant waste generation (comparable to approximately 50 percent of the annual European amount of waste) responsible. With 80 percent of the emissions from the average fashion or consumer electronics item occurring during production, it is imperative that the lifespan of the products is extended as much as possible.
Consumer behavior must be geared towards the circular economy
“The shift towards circular economy-oriented consumer behavior is a key factor in the successful transition to the circular economy. Consumer behavior is increasing the number of goods going back into the loop and signaling increased demand for circular products to manufacturers. The trend towards more sustainable demand is growing,” explains Carsten Lützenkirchen, Senior Vice President at DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “Novel circular business models not only transform and expand product and service portfolios, but also have a positive impact on customer awareness and willingness to participate. It is a classic win-win situation, and sustainability drives growth and innovation,” Lützenkirchen continued.