13 Feb The circular economy and environmental objectives of Rieusset for 2018
While I was preparing the last post about the system of returning empty packaging and the DPG code, I was asking myself how the work we do at Rieusset affects the environment, and I set out, based on the concepts of the circular economy, to establish the objectives of Rieusset for 2018 in this area.
Up until now Rieusset has always considered the environment in order to comply with the law and, from a principally corrective point of view, protect it from its industrial activity.
- We separate waste – and I should add that we do this better and better – in order to valorize it with the help of waste managers, and so that it may represent a lower management cost for the company.
- We reduce waste from a position of cost reduction in order to be more competitive.
- We control emissions in order to comply with the law.
But can we act preventively in addition to correctively? Of course we can.
Evidently this is not something we can do alone, since it requires the collaboration of the private enterprises in the supply chain as well as that of the administration and of society itself, but we have decided that we can contribute our grain of sand.
Before I explain to you what we are going to work on, for the benefit of those of you who might not know it, let me tell you about the circular economy.
The circular economy is a concept that combines economic principles with others that are related to the environment, and basically, it can be described as an economy centered around sustainable production that reduces the consumption of the resources necessary for the production of a specific good. The circular economy is based on reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling as if it were a continuous cycle, just as in nature.
If you wish to find out more details regarding what the circular economy is all about, have a look at the following video: Circular Economy
Currently, the economy is a linear system where raw materials are extracted in order to manufacture products that are eliminated after they have been used.
Is this sustainable?
I believe it isn’t. You should consider that the planet we live on doesn’t have unlimited resources, and with the aggravating factor of the growth of the world’s population, if we don’t take actions to control the consumption of these resources we will find that they will run out sooner rather than later.
In order to continue to understand what the circular economy proposes, allow me to list its principles:
- Waste becomes a new resource, since biodegradable waste is returned to nature and waste which isn’t biodegradable is reused.
- The second use. Reintroducing those products into the economic circuit that no longer correspond to the initial needs of the consumers
- Reusing. Some waste or parts thereof can be used to make new products
- Repairing. There are some types of waste which, after having been used, can be used for other applications
- Recycling. Taking advantage of the materials in waste
- Recovery. Exploiting the energy value of waste that cannot be recycled
- The economy of functionality. By this we mean giving more prevalence to use than to ownership. Instead of selling a product it is better to rent it so that once its main purpose has been achieved it may be returned to the company that will take it apart so as to reuse the parts that are still valid
- Industrial and territorial ecology. The establishment of a way of industrial organization in a certain territory characterized by optimized management of stocks, material flows, energy and services
- Eco-conception. This considers the environmental impact of a product along its entire life cycle
I am sure that when you read these principles you will be convinced that we need to work along these lines, right?
Well, this is exactly what we in Rieusset also think. And how do we do it?
It is of course very easy to accept that we want to work this way, but it isn’t so easy when we try to put it into practice.
At first we began by using or promoting biodegradable materials, so that when the product finished its life cycle it could go back to nature without causing any environmental damage. This point, which we don’t discard, has two main drawbacks:
- One, that these habitually have a high product cost which, at present a large part of our customers are not yet willing to pay. It is true that studies have been made in developed countries with a high environmental awareness that the final consumer is willing to pay more for a product with these characteristics, but this is not yet sufficiently wide-spread.
- The other, which calls for the necessity of waste managers and/or administrations that can take charge of the management of these biodegradable materials.
Later we thought that we could use lighter packaging or ones with less thickness, since, above all, this would reduce the need for manufacturing resources and minimize transportation costs (especially if we look at it from the perspective of CO2 emissions).
In this area we also came up against the interests of the customers, who, although attracted by the idea, again put on the table the factors of higher product cost and a normally long and expensive product approval.
So then, what have we decided to do?
Well, concentrate principally on what depends on us. For this, we have established some objectives for 2018 that should allow us to lay the foundations to get us off to a good, strong start with this project.
Therefore, in 2018,
- We will establish indicators that allow us to identify where we are as well as to measure the effects of the improvements we are making. For this,
- we will calculate our current carbon footprint
- we will establish electricity, gas, water and nitrogen consumption indicators
- Additionally, we will work on reaching category C within the Carbon Disclosure Project
For those of you who don’t know it, the CDP is an organization that gives support to companies and cities in order to disclose the environmental impact of the main corporations. Its objective is making environmental reports and risk management a corporate norm, boosting disclosure, knowledge and action towards a sustainable economy.
All of this without stopping to work on the aspects we mentioned earlier regarding biodegradable materials or lighter materials which, little by little, will introduce themselves into society.
What do you think of our proposal? Do you think its scope is appropriate, or perhaps it is not bold enough? We look forward to your comments so that we may continue to improve our contribution to a better environment.