There is strength in numbers when addressing the circular economy

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 1.46.13 PMWhat is a circular economy? If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a circular economy is a concept companies utilize that aims to eradicate waste—not just from manufacturing processes, as lean management aspires to do, but systematically, throughout the life cycles and uses of products and their components.

Lexmark recently joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s “Circular Economy 100” — an exclusive group of 100 global organizations that have been brought together to address the issues that can arise as companies look to transition to the circular economy model. The foundation was established in 2010 by champion yachtswoman, Ellen MacArthur, with the aim of inspiring a generation to re-think, re-design, and build a positive future through the vision of a circular economy.

The concept of the circular economy is something that Lexmark has been involved with since the company was first founded in 1991. We make it easy for our customers to return their used laser supplies by providing free collection services that are available in more than 60 countries, representing more than 90 percent of Lexmark’s global market. Lexmark in turn pledges to reuse or recycle all of the toner cartridge material returned with a goal to reuse 50 percent of the material by weight.

As a company, Lexmark has always been committed to good corporate citizenship, and our business practices are guided by the principles of resource efficiency and the circular economy. Taking part in the “Circular Economy 100” program will allow us to work together with a group of like-minded businesses to promote its benefits, and our involvement will also help to maintain and improve our own approach to incorporating such practices.

Lexmark has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 42 percent since 2005, though we have found that the impact of “going circular” is far-reaching, with benefits extending to the local economy, the environment and the businesses that have chosen to adopt it.

To further reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Lexmark aims to regionally source 80 percent of supplies in the geography of consumption by 2017. Thus, more Lexmark laser supplies that are purchased in the European Union will have been produced in that region, supporting the creation of local jobs. It is this ability to realize a wide range of benefits that should see more companies seek to go circular.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has highlighted that there is a combined annual trillion-dollar opportunity globally in net material cost savings for companies making the transition to the circular economy, an attractive proposition for any business (and that’s every business) looking to cut costs — see “Towards the Circular Economy Volume 3”, page 9.

The savings are a result of the circular economy’s focus on the recycling and reuse of materials, which provides an economic boost for businesses by allowing them to lower net-spend on materials. As concerns around the depletion of our world’s resources continue to grow, the circular economy’s focus on material reuse allows us to help address this while protecting ourselves from its potential impact, as well as benefit from the resulting cost savings.

Welcoming Lexmark’s participation in the Circular Economy 100, Lexmark’s head of corporate social responsibility in EMEA, Sylvie Thomas, said: “The opportunity for us as a company to not only participate in high level discussion and debate around circularity, but also to benefit from the learnings of 100 leading businesses that are implementing circular economy principles, will prove invaluable.”

For more information on the circular economy, watch the video below.