Businesses large and small are tackling one of their biggest impacts: waste in the customer phase of their product lifecycle. Here are more than 20 examples of companies working with customers to change their behaviour. Whether this is through product and packaging innovation, incentivising behaviour, extending the life of a product, implementing a take back scheme or moving towards the circular economy, these companies are tackling this impact head-on.
Read some examples we've pulled together.
H&M: "Let's not let fashion go to waste"
H&M have launched a global garment collection initiative to encourage their customers to not let their fashion go to waste. At any H&M store, customers can bring in garments (not just H&M clothing) in any state (like those old socks with the holes in them!). All clothing received are either resold through second-hand shops, repurposed into other products such as cleaning cloths, or turned into textile fibers to use for instance in insulation.
Levis: making jeans from bottles
Levi's launched their Waste<Less collection in 2012, changing the way their jeans were created to reduce the resources that went into them. This included using plastic bottles (about eight in each to be exact!) and reducing the water used in production by up to 96% less. As part of this scheme, Levi's also encourages its customers to wash their jeans once a fortnight (rather than weekly) to cut down on water usage.
Interface: it's all in the Net Effect
Carpet-manufacturer Interface has created a win-win solution for fisherman in small communities in the Philippines. In return for a small income, fisherman help to clean up local beaches collecting old and discarded fishnets. Working with a key supplier, these fishnets are then repurposed into recycled nylon and used in Interface carpet tiles.
Crown Paints: painting the town red or blue, or green
In partnership with Climate Week, Crown Paints encouraged customers to clean out garages and sheds of old, unused paint as part of their 'Kick out the Can' campaign. The paint was then processed and distributed to community projects across the UK, providing a new life for community centres in need of a fresh coat. With 54 million L of surplus paint sitting unused in garages and sheds, this was a great way to give it a new life.
Argos and Banardo's launch Toy Exchange
Argos partnered with children-charity Banardo's to launch the Argos Toy Exchange. By encouraging families to donate 'pre-loved' toys, Banardo's would resell these in the lead-up to Christmas. Encouraging toys (which often have a short-lived timespan with chidlren) to have a second life, and helping raise vital funds for Banardo's services including support for young carers and fostering/adoption services.
O2 Telefonica: recycling scheme
As part of O2's 'Think Big' sustainability goals, they want to offer customers bite-sized ways to lead more sustainable lives. With consumption of mobile phones on the rise, O2 offers a sensible and environmentally responsible way to dispose of your old one. O2 recycle offers incentive for customers wanting to trade in their old phone, with instant cash back savings.
Barbour: extending the lifecycle of a jacket
Clothing retailer Barbour stands by their garments and encourages its customers to extend the life of their waxed jackets by offering a repair and reproofing service. Resizing is also an option if you want to pass on your jacket to a friend.
James Lock & Co: Self-repair hat care
James Lock & Co is the oldest hat shop in the world. They offer a wide range of headwear and encourage customers to prolong the hat life by offering hat care advice. The company provides tweed caps, felt and panama hat care instructions as well as general top hat care instructions to help customers self-repair items.
E H Booth: cutting down on food waste
Booths, the leading food retailer in the North of England, helped customers cut down on food waste by offering the chance to "buy one now, get one free next time." BOGOF offers are commonly touted to contributing to food waste in the household, with customers buying more than needed and not using all fruit or veg before they go off.
Intermarché: celebrating 'inglorious' fruit and veg
French supermarket-chain Intermarché encouraged the purchase of 'ugly' fruits and vegetables by using humour to celebrate the ridiculous potato, the hideous orange and the failed lemon. Selling products some 30% cheaper, the 'inglorious fruits and veg' were attractive to customers. A marketing campaign (which included in-store taste tests) helped to showcase how the 'ugly' fruit and veg was just as good as their more perfect counterparts.
Starbucks: bring your own mug (BYOM)
Starbucks encourages its customers to bring in their own tumbler mugs when they order their morning latte, in order to reduce the number of paper cups used. A 10% discount is offered to incentivise this behaviour. While it might seem foreign to some to bring a coffee mug from home into their local Starbucks, such was the same for plastic bags at supermarkets until a few years ago.
It's Fresh: fruit that stays fresher for longer
Thanks to a new innovation from It's Fresh! Fruit can stay fresher for longer. Using a unique ethylene-removal technology in new and improved packaging means the shelf-life of fruit can be extended, both in the production and transportation phase, as well as in a customer's home.
Coca Cola: packaging with plants
Coca-Cola Enterprises is changing the landscape of plastic bottle packaging with its new Plant Bottle. Made from 22% natural plant sources and 25% recycled PET plastic, this bottle is reducing the need to continue PET plastic sourced from non-renewable fossil fuels. The bottles can be recycled as with regular plastic bottles and thus can be used again and again. Customers are informed of this change through on-package labeling of the plant bottle icon.
Hypnos: Recyclable beds with Royal approval
Hypnos, a family-run bed making company has a clear focus on sustainable design. All beds made are 100% recyclable, and the British company encourages its customers to return old beds and mattresses. These are broken down and materials are reused in other industries. The disposal and recycling service is just one of the ways in which Hypnos has earned a Royal Warrant to supply the Royal Household palaces and residences.
Marks & Spencer launched Shwopping in 2012 as part of their Plan A commitments in order to reduce the amount of clothing going to landfill. Customers are encouraged to bring their old and unwanted clothing (from any store, and in any condition) and deposit it into the Shwop box. Thanks to a partnership with Oxfam, clothing is resold in their stores (providing funding for Oxfam) or recycled and made into new material.
Ricoh: reusing and recovering ink and toner cartridges
Only about 15% of the 65 million printer ink and toner cartridges used in the U.K. are recycled. Having this in mind Ricoh established the Ricoh Return programmes where customers have the option of recycling their Ricoh ink and toner cartridges. Those are then chosen for reuse, material recovery and energy recovery.
Dell: take back e-waste scheme
As part of Dell Reconnect, the technology company is encouraging both business clients and end users to donate unwanted electrical equipment to their nearby Goodwill store. Trained technicians help repair and upgrade needed technology, and refurbished machines are sold in Goodwill stores making technology affordable to everyone. Equipment that cannot be refurbished is recycled, and nothing goes to landfill.
Danwood: a new life for used printer cartridges
The Danwood Group, in partnership with Clover Environmental Solutions provides a service to collect used print consumables from Danwood customer sites, helping customers to dispose of waste responsibly. Used cartridges are then either remanufactured or recycled. They also offer advice to customers to manage printing to increase efficiency within the business, leading to savings both for the environment and the bottom line.
Puma: #BringBack your old sports products and increase their life cycle
The “Bring Me Back” campaign was aimed at encouraging the recycling and re-usability of sports products among consumers through a simple method: customers deposit old clothes in the Bring Me Back bin and Puma send them off to be reused or recycled.
Tresher & Glenny: a shirt for life
Royal Warrant holder Thresher and Glenny live by the message ‘a garment should not be a disposable item. Their philosophy of promoting good quality and durable clothing ensures many years of use and reduces the need for replacement. With all shirts sold, customers receive an extra collar (often the first part to wear), so when it degrades customers can bring back the shirt to have the collar replaced free of charge.
Pop up repair shop: changing the linear model
Once a product has fallen into disuse consumers usually discard it and buy a new one. Pop up repair shop is aimed at breaking that cycle and changing consumer habits by repairing
Recycle Bank: Incentivising recycling
RecycleBank helps to encourage recycling by incentivising people to do it! By partnering with local stores to offer discounts, RecycleBank members can trade in the points earned for recycling to buy local goods. Points are earned based on the amount recycled (by weight), and further incentives are given if an entire street participates, furthering the recycling mission.
Give me Tap: connecting people
Give me Tap, a UK social enterprise, is helping their customers waste less plastic bottles thanks to the power of technology. Give me Tap sells reusable metal bottles, but also has a smartphone app that lets users find the closest place they can 'fill up' with free tap water, such as a nearby fountain or cafe. Proceeds from the sale of their bottles also helps fund water pumps in Africa, offering clean drinking water to more people.
Unilever: smaller is better
Lasting just as long as regular deodorants but with less packaging, Unilever's innovation is saving both packaging on the outside and compressed gas on the inside. If 1m people switched to compressed deodorants, this would save enough aluminum to make 20,000 bikes!