Two men in blue overalls, with white hard hats and safety googles, working in a factory for turbines

Circular Economy - Business Models

24 Apr 19


Making the transition to a circular model starts with identifying which circular business model best fits your organisation, and could therefore be the most promising.

Take a look at the way you operate through the ‘circular’ lens. This will open your eyes to opportunities – and benefits – you may not have spotted otherwise.

Two men in blue overalls, with white hard hats and safety googles, working in a factory for turbines
Graphic representation of the different business models, with each ring of the image holding a different business model type

Design. Manufacturing. Distribution. All of this can be done digitally – in efficient ways that help the planet.

Think monitoring product usage to reduce energy consumption. Cutting down on labour and material needs through 3D printing. Streamlining distribution with modern tracking systems. Technology presents a lot of options right now in industry – using this to your advantage could be your company’s opening to a circular model.

Think about where you source your raw materials from. Perhaps another business is already outputting the same materials as a waste product.

If so, they’d likely be happy to sell them to you at a low price. This would allow you to reintroduce a resource back into the product lifecycle. You save money, and the planet benefits from a little less waste. If the company in question is local – even better. Always think of ways to simplify the product journey. This could work the other way too. Consider what you currently think of as waste. Is this something you could sell as a resource to another company? You could be sitting on potential extra revenue without realising.

Could you design a better product from the offset? Your product may already sell well, but has it been built with the whole lifecycle in mind?

Is your product reliable? Durable? At the end of its life, could it be repurposed, or would it simply need to be thrown away? Interrogating your product like this can feel like too much – but think of it this way: circular design opens up so many possibilities for eager designers. And you can be right at the forefront of the circular movement.

Could you evolve your business model to include fitting and maintenance, selling contracts instead of products to customers?

Overseeing the full lifespan of your products creates a truly stable business model, with a steady income. No more fluctuation month to month. Another bonus? Continuing service means building customer loyalty on a whole other level. Assess the real lifespan of your products to decide if you could make this sort of shift.

Remember, every business is different.

Moving to a circular business model can sometimes be about making a few small changes here and there that make a huge difference in the long run. Interrogate your existing practices. Speak to other businesses operating on a circular model. Innovate. Then speak to us about how you could put things in motion.