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The circular economy may be defined as “a manifestation of economic models that

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The circular economy may be defined as “a manifestation of economic models that highlight business opportunities
where cycles rather than linear processes, dominate. It is restorative and regenerative by design and aims to keep
products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.” (Interrreg, Europe, 2018). There are
many concepts and tools closely associated with the circular economy such as the cradle-to-cradle approach, the
hierarchy of waste and the Six R’s. The cradle-to-cradle approach was created by McDonough and Braungart. It is a
method (and a certification) that can be applied to make products that are harmless and biodegradable. The aim is “the
safe and potentially infinite circulation of materials and nutrients in cycles. All constituents are chemically harmless and
recyclable” (EPEAEPEA GmbH, 2021). The hierarchy of waste was created by the Environmental Protection Agency of
the US. It is a tool that can help companies and individuals evaluate waste management actions and rate them from
most favorable to least favorable. Following this method, companies should strive to use the most favourable alternatives
to manage their waste streams. Finally, the 6Rs refer to refuse, reuse, repair, recycle, rethink and reduce. These
principles could be thought of as part of the hierarch of waste or complementary to it. They also serve as a set of
principles to guide waste management.
Take a product from a company, for example, a model of running shoes such as the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley shoes
from Adidas, or a shampoo, such as the Garnier Ultimate Blends Honey Treasures Strengthening Shampoo Bar for
Damaged Hair 60g. It must be a product, not a brand! You should evaluate two aspects: a. Evaluate the extent to which
this product is enabling the transition to the circular economy. To do this you can apply the methods that have been
mentioned (hierarchy of waste, 6 R’s or cradle-to-cradle)
Consider these practical aspects: 1. Does the product follow cradle to cradle principles in its life cycle? Does the product
seem ecoeffective or eco-efficient? 2. Does the company follow the hierarchy of waste in the development of this product?
3. Does it apply the six R’s? a. Has the company integrated servitization into the product concept? b. Has the company
integrated reverse logistics into the product concept? 4. What is the added value of this product for consumers? 5. Identify
and discuss three challenges that the company found/might have found when developing its sustainability features? Do
you think other companies that follow might find the same challenges? b. The extent to which this product fits into the
general strategy of the company to become more sustainable. 1. Identify the general strategy of the company regarding
sustainability (cost leadership, differentiation, growth…)? How does the reporting, actions and certifications contribute to
this strategy? Do they report? Evaluate whether their reporting could be considered green washing. 2. What certifications
do they have? Finally, conclude whether the company is contributing to the circular economy with this product and with
its general strategy of sustainability. Propose one action the company may take to contribute.

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