Businesses use all kinds of jargon to prove their authenticity as environmentally conscious brands. Even though some terms are just buzzwords, customers need to know what each one means to make an informed choice about what to buy.
The concept of closed-loop production is a familiar one. Primal communities have been using it to meet their needs with limited resources. They exchanged goods and supplies according to their requirements at the time.
The alarming rate of climate change, on the other hand, has brought the term back into the limelight. So, if you don’t want to be scratching your head when you come across a brand promoting the circular economy and closed-loop production, hang on tight!
This blog post discusses all things related to closed-loop production and why it matters in sustainable production.
So let’s get started!
What Is Closed-Loop Production And Circular Economy?
First things first. Here’s what these fancy terms mean:
Closed-loop production is a way of making things where all of the waste from the manufacturing process is used again. This way, almost no byproducts end up in the trash.
A closely related term, circular economy, refers to a production model that recycles, reuses, repairs, or refurbishes existing products and materials for as long as possible.
Downsides Of Traditional Manufacturing
Did you know?
A garbage truck full of fast-fashion waste dumps in the landfills EVERY SECOND!
Traditional manufacturing methods have long been known for their negative environmental impact. They often rely on a linear production model where raw materials are extracted, processed, manufactured into products, and then disposed of as waste. This approach depletes finite resources and contributes to pollution and climate change.
Let’s take an example of a T-shirt and its supply chain:
1. Resource-Intensive Agriculture
Farming ordinary cotton consumes massive quantities of water. Imagine this: To grow cotton for a single T-shirt, almost 2,700 liters of water are needed. The amount is enough for someone to drink for 900 days!
Next, the fertilisers and pesticides used in the process pollute the soil and waterways.
2. Wasteful Processing
The cotton is then turned into fabric, a process that uses a lot of energy and other resources. The process also emits several greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and uses toxic dyes and chemicals that end up in the oceans.
3. Irresponsible Production
The fabric is cut, sewn, and packaged in garment factories. Each of these procedures uses energy and emits pollutants. Plastic packaging further contributes to overflowing landfills. On top of that, unethical practices such as child labour, unfair wages, exploitation, and slavery are common in garment factories in developing countries.
4. Polluting Logistics
The cotton is transported to processing plants, the fabric is shipped to production factories, and finally, the ready-to-wear T-shirts are hauled to distributors, retailers, and markets. These logistics consume fuel and release greenhouse gases into the environment.
5. Reckless Disposal
A T-shirt’s wasteful supply chain ends when it’s not worn enough and thrown away in a landfill, where it takes a long time to break down because it’s made of so many different kinds of synthetic materials.
In a country as big as America, 2,150 pieces of clothing are thrown away every second!
Benefits Of Closed-Loop Production
As more people learn about the problems with fast fashion, closed-loop production is becoming more and more popular –
and for all the right reasons!
1. Waste Control
Reusing and recycling resources and materials is a sure-shot way to curb extravagant waste production by the fashion industry. By promoting a circular production model, businesses can strive for zero-waste manufacturing.
2. High Efficiency
Closed-loop production processes encourage the use of local materials and have factories nearby. This cuts down on their logistics and makes their supply chain faster and more efficient.
3. Low Costs
Businesses save on buying new materials, shipping, disposal, and extra labour. Closed-loop production improves business revenue over time.
Which Real-World Businesses Are Closing The Loop?
Apple is already using renewable energy at its production facilities and is on track to achieve its goal of producing new gadgets with 100% recycled materials only.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Sierra Nevada, a brewery in the United States, uses composted brewery waste to improve the soil where new barley and hop plants are grown.
A Swiss brand, etéreo curates the most stunning bags using grape leather. The material is manufactured from the byproducts of winemaking.
Challenges Of Closed-Loop Manufacturing (And How You Can Get Past Them)
While closed-loop manufacturing seems like a no-brainer for a sustainable future, a business must overcome a few obstacles and challenges to make it a reality.
Here are some common challenges you may face while closing the loop and some actionable strategies to get past them:
Initial Investment In Technology And Infrastructure
Closed-loop manufacturing requires a higher initial investment in sustainable technology and infrastructure. This may be daunting for many companies. However, one should remember that this investment will serve them in the long run through lower costs and higher efficiency.
- Start small and concentrate on particular products or procedures that have the most significant impact on the environment.
- Find public or private investors who want to support your sustainable project.
- Work with other businesses to split the price and potential risks of implementing new tech.
Cultural And Mindset Shift
Closed-loop production is drastically different from traditional manufacturing chains. Adapting a new method generally requires a significant change in mindset and culture, which is often difficult to achieve.
- Highlight to your stakeholders how closed-loop manufacturing can help them save money and work more efficiently.
- Encourage employee participation and feedback during the implementation process.
- To gain traction and support for larger-scale changes, it is essential to recognize and honor smaller ones.
Resistance from Stakeholders
Closed-loop production may face opposition from stakeholders who value short-term profits over long-term sustainability.
- Ensure everyone involved understands the advantages of closed-loop production and the drawbacks of sticking with the status quo.
- Collaborate with like-minded groups and people to create a powerful movement for sustainability.
- Bring up the benefits of closed-loop manufacturing regarding brand differentiation and enhancement.
Be The Change; Leave No Loops Open!
Closed-loop manufacturing isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a necessary approach for promoting sustainability and protecting our planet. By using the model for a circular economy, we can cut down on waste, save resources, and encourage new ideas. It’s time to shift our businesses and culture toward a more sustainable future.
At SiS, we believe in the power of closed-loop manufacturing and other sustainable initiatives to create a better world.
Let’s transform, collaborate, and educate to make a difference. Together, we can build a world that is truly sustainable for all. Will you join us?
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So all that’s left for you is to shop with peace of mind.
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