The environment has already been affected by global climate change at large. Glaciers are melting due to rapid rise in temperature, ice is breaking up on many lakes and rivers, plant and animal ranges are shifting and trees are blooming sooner. All these elements are major markers of climate change, with greenhouse gas emissions being one of the most significant causes. Hence, it is easy to notice why scientists are certain that global average temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, primarily due to greenhouse gas emissions.
However, slowing the rate of temperature rise requires reducing GHG emissions, and two important initiatives are frequently seen as the main levers: transitioning to sustainable energy and lowering carbon use (for example, petrochemicals) in the supply chain.
While renewable energies are an essential part of the solution to reducing emissions that cause climate change, they cannot be relied upon alone. Thus, every industry must look into how they can improve their specific situation, and through circularity sustainability, we can address a wide range of environmental issues at the same time. At its core, circularity refers to a shift away from the traditional produce-sell-use-waste model toward one that is more sustainable.
To understand this, DHL Express has issued a whitepaper titled "Delivering on Circularity" that helps business owners understand how global production and consumption practices must adapt in order to remain consistent with the core focus of sustainability and environmental goals.
Circularity holds the potential to save the environment by driving growth and innovation. The logistics industry can be the ideal mediator of this new connection and its countless innovative moving elements, such as arranging the intricate flow of commodities. Think of it as a system that is built on the principles of sustainability, visibility and multidirectional flow.
While all businesses must make the transition to circularity, the scope in the consumer products industry, particularly fashion and consumer electronics, deserves special attention. These businesses are practically ubiquitous in our lives, and the actions that industry stakeholders can take are simple and manageable, and the potential beneficial impact is enormous.
Today, circularity is becoming a key component of the sustainability strategy of many companies across industries. The Ellen McArthur Foundation and Institute of Positive Fashion's numerous initiatives, as well as multi-corporation alliances like the Circular Electronics Partnership, are examples of these efforts. Simply put, while circularity improves product sustainability, it is made more sustainable by solutions that also provide commercial benefits. It is about following the 5 Rs: Reduce, Repair, Resell, Refurbish, and Recycle.
A circular economy encompasses all supply networks and industries. The consumer goods industry (which includes food products) is responsible for over 25% of global GHG emissions, ranking second only to the mobility sector.
Fashion and consumer electronics account for a relatively big amount of GHG emissions and environmental consequences among consumer products. As a result, circularity in these two industries has the potential to have a huge positive impact on the climate, environment and society.
Let us start with –
GHG emissions and other environmental problems are heavily influenced by the fashion and consumer electronics industries. Their carbon footprint alone accounts for 6% of world emissions when taken together. To add to it, around 20% of all clothing manufactured is never worn, and smartphones are often replaced after two to three years only.
For instance, minerals and rare metals account for about 60 to 70% of the weight of an average smartphone. And because these resources are limited, collecting and recycling them are essential. Similarly, the fashion industry is also reliant on nonrenewable resources including synthetic textiles (such as polyester) that are frequently created using fossil fuels. Therefore, if these industries have to shift their course, circularity is critical. It aids in reducing resource consumption at the start of a product's life cycle, extending the product's lifespan and extracting maximum value from the product at the end.
During the creation of a typical fashion or consumer electronics item, up to 80% of emissions are generated. As a result, it's critical to extend the product's lifespan as much as possible. The 5 Rs provide the key points to achieve circularity by lowering the use of virgin materials in manufacturing, refurbishing older products to put them back on the market, repairing products to extend their first lives, reselling products to new owners and recycling goods at the end of their lives into materials for new manufacturing. When compared to generating a new gadget from virgin materials, giving items a second life can reduce emissions by 55 to 75% per unit.
Circular consumer behaviours not only increase the amount of goods that return to the cycle, but they also signal a demand to businesses for producing circular products. Surveys show how consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable products, with more than half of respondents willing to pay more for a sustainable product.
In that light, materials, goods, and packaging must be reinvented, including rapid manufacturing and creative usage of concepts, as well as smart product return and recycling. Supply chains must be redesigned in a convenient, cost-effective and environmentally conscious way, while also ensuring visibility and close collaboration, along with establishing circular customer behaviours.
In order for the fashion and consumer electronics industries to transition from a linear to a circular supply chain, four essential stakeholders must work together. Brands will have to create circularity opportunities through new products and sustainable models, customers will have to actively engage in circular behaviours, governments too will have to establish an atmosphere that fosters these behaviours, and finally logistics players will have to facilitate the new circular flow of commodities. Above all, circularity will only become a reality if all these four stakeholders take responsibility and act now, driving a mutually reinforcing circle.
While the successful move to circularity is undoubtedly a team effort, logistics operators serve as the natural backbone. Circularity transforms the way resources and products travel from a straight line to a regenerative circle, and logistics is all about efficiently managing the movement of things. It is here that logistics will play a more prominent role during the extended lifetime of raw materials and products.
DHL Express, the world's largest logistics supplier, acts as a key player in fashion logistics, serving businesses all along the value chain. We ensure that the complexity of logistics and supply chains, such as inbound, warehousing, and delivery, are looked after and taken care of by our specialists to meet the nature and specifications of our clients, from small internet start-ups to global companies. DHL also understands that smart devices require smart solutions. Our Certified International Specialists are trained to serve a wide spectrum of industries in more than 220 countries and territories around the world.
Our team at DHL provides unrivalled logistics services to our customers, ranging from air freight and express shipments to warehouse and service logistics solutions, as well as industry-leading expertise on emerging subjects such as circular economy solutions. In fact, we are looking forward to working with the circular economy's stakeholders as a facilitator for new physical and data flows inside the supply chain.
If you wish to know in-depth details about circularity sustainability and its potential, read more about it!
Delivering on Circularity - Pathways for Fashion and Consumer Electronics; Download the Whitepaper here