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Reath’s Drive for a Virtuous Circle

Posted: 16th July 2020

An Edinburgh based technology business is on a mission to empower thousands of companies and organisations to embrace the circular economy.

Reath is committed to developing the digital infrastructure needed to help the shift to a Circular Economy and is working with businesses in the food and drink sectors, cosmetics, and even industrial companies that want to track their reusable assets.

Their system works through allowing businesses to give items they want to reuse (from packaging to equipment) a unique identity – this is its “digital passport”. These can then be tacked, and every time the equipment or packaging is used, filled, refilled or cleaned, it is given another “stamp” in its passport. This creates a digital ledger that gives a complete history of that item.

This helps businesses generate insights, create new revenue opportunities and identify savings.

The way we traditionally design, build, use then dispose of products means that a lot goes to waste. A circular economy looks to keep the flow of materials and products within the economy for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use.

The Circular Edinburgh project is supported as part of Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, which will invest £73m in circular economy and resource efficiency projects, thanks to support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This programme provides funding and support for small and medium sized businesses in Scotland to be more resource efficient and create a more circular economy.

Claire Rampen of Reath said: “The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that the “use → discard” approach to items, such as packaging or disposable equipment, means the economy is throwing away 95% of the material value of what has been created. As a response to this, over 400 organisations globally have committed to shifting 20% of their products to reusable packaging models. This means that consumer behaviours and expectations will be changing, and B2C companies will need to adapt accordingly.

“Additionally, the cost of single-use packaging and equipment will be rising steeply in the coming years, due to the increased government regulation and penalties. These changes mean the circular economy will offer even greater savings and new revenue opportunities than ever before.”

A move to Circular Economy provides businesses with an exciting opportunity to capture market share from competitors as customers adopt brands that fit with their environmental values.

Claire added: “Many consumer-facing businesses will have experienced an increase in requests for “sustainable” packaging options from their customers, and will be exploring what that could look like for them. By adopting a reusable packaging system, you can engage consumers in a much richer way (think loyalty rewards or easy re-ordering via the Digital Passport), and case studies across food & drink and cosmetic industries demonstrate the impact of reusable packaging pilots on sales. REN skincare reported an 8 x increase in sales of their products when they released reusable packaging.”

“Data is the lifeblood of finding cost savings and trimming unnecessary spend in your business.”

Reath is convinced that Scotland can play a leading role in the switch to a more sustainable economic future, but stressed the need to invest in both the digital and physical infrastructure required to make switching to circular economy practices an easy shift for businesses of all sizes.

“Businesses have been built around, and optimised towards, linear systems, so we are dealing with inertia. Shifting to the circular economy will be prohibitively challenging if proper infrastructure is not put in place at a national level.

“There are immense benefits to be unlocked by an investment in circular infrastructure: efficiency at scale, local jobs and maintaining money in a local economy, to name a few.”

For further information please visit https://www.edinburghchamber.co.uk/circular-edinburgh/ or contact Mayan Grace or Lauren Ridgley on 0131 221 2999 (option 5) or email circulareconomy@edinburghchamber.co.uk

 

 

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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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