Circular Economy: Is This A Model Advertisers Can Successfully Embrace?

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to play an increasing role in affecting how brands can better embed sustainability into their strategies, Creative Salon chatted with the experts for a debrief on how to feed the circular economy model into the ad industry to their benefit. MSQ/Sustain’s Strategy Lead Will Railton gave his take…

The cost-of-living crisis shows little sign of abating and consumers are increasingly seeking to rent, repair and re-sell their items – thus feeding into a circular economy. 

Brands have been quick to offer schemes that support this way of thinking – IKEA, H&M and adidas among them. They’re offering ‘product sell-back’, pledging for greater sustainability and aiming to reduce plastic. Many P&G brands are also now working on producing refillable options. But are brands going far enough, and can thinking circularly actually be profitable?

Will Railton, strategy lead, MSQ/Sustain

Circularity is not new, it is just more urgent as it becomes clear that the linear model of take-make-waste is completely unviable. Forget asking the question if circularity is profitable, but if linearity is liveable. After all, there is no business on a dead planet, so all industry needs to look to circularity.

The good news is that all brands and businesses can reduce waste and pollution – indeed some can completely avoid products going to landfill and massively reduce carbon emissions which are driving the climate crisis. This demands thinking and acting quite differently whereby all elements of a supply chain are redesigned. If recycling is downstream then think of circularity as upstream – and so from the start of a process the mindset is different – where waste becomes a feedstock, where commodities are regenerative and all the parts can be fixed indefinitely. 

If we embed this thinking into industries we start to see radical change and with it, innovation – and here there are new ideas and new stories to tell. Advertisers can look on these changes as part of the next industrial revolution, which can offer brands myriad competitive advantages. Laggards will not only be left behind, destined to be culturally irrelevant, but they put all our futures at risk. One cannot say how punished they will be by their customer base. Furthermore, ‘green’ efforts made by some today will soon be looked upon as token gestures, open to a criticism of greenwashing. And so, the change accelerator must be put to the floor and businesses and brands need to be all in – no matter how painful in the short term.

Read the full article on Creative Salon here.