3 Companies with Unique Circular Economy Projects

The circular economy is all about generating zero waste, while keeping our valuable limited resources within the economy for as long as possible. While that sounds like a lot of technical work that involves complicated blueprints and diagrams, there are actually many unique and creative ways that a company can contribute to the circular economy. Here are three of these unique circular economy projects.

Suroboyo Bus Line: Turning plastic into currency

‘That’ll be five plastic bottles, please.’

Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, has taken an original approach to tackling their plastic pollution problem. Their solution: you can now pay your bus fare in plastic bottles.

A two-hour bus ride will cost you approximately five plastic bottles, or ten plastic cups. Starting in April, this initiative is an attempt to reach the city’s goal of being plastic waste free by 2020. As Indonesia is estimated to be the second largest contributor to ocean plastic, and as Surabaya generates 155,400 tonnes of plastic waste per day, this is no doubt an ambitious target.

Nonetheless, these steps are sure to help. By giving people an incentive to collect their plastic waste, the city can simultaneously teach their citizens responsible waste management and ensure that their plastics are routed out of the oceans and back into the economy.

The bottles that are collected as payment for the bus fares are auctioned off to recycling companies, where they will be processed and turned into new plastic products. Furthermore, after helping towards the bus line’s operating costs, the surplus money earned at the auction is put towards funding of green spaces around the city. A creative three-in-one, this program keeps the city green and clean, keeps the plastics out of the ocean, and keeps the plastics within the economy.

Children wait in line to trade their plastic bottles for a bus ticket in Surabaya, Indonesia. Source: Reuters

DGTL Festival: Turning glasses into art

DGTL Festival is an artsy techno music festival in Amsterdam whose mission is to become the world’s first circular festival. They are working towards this goal in various ways, like their Circular Foodcourt, where they base their menu not around what festival goers want to eat but around what leftover ingredients are available from local stores.

This year, they are taking this circularity to their art scene. Together with Ace & Tate, an eyewear company, the two circular-driven organizations are turning 15,000 surplus optics lenses into a magnificent art installation that will be on display at the festival from the 19th to the 21st of April.

‘Instead of a take-make-waste process, we try to make it circular and make new products out of waste streams,’ says Marlot Kiveron, Sustainability Manager of Ace & Tate. Rather than disposing of these 15,000 unwanted lenses, why not use them to give the festival a little bling?

Timberland: Turning tires into shoes

‘When the tread wears out the tire lives on, recycled into Timberland shoes.’

Timberland, creator of the world-famous ‘Timbs’ boots, has recently expanded into the tire market. The purpose: making their boots circular.

Partnering with Omni United, a tire manufacturer, they are set to produce their new line of Timberland Tires, which are specifically created with the intention that they will one day be recycled into a brand new pair of Timberland shoes.

Once the tread on the Timberland Tires has worn out, the customer can replace them with new ones at authorized dealers. The retired tires are then recycled into crumb rubber, which is turned into outsoles for a pair of Timberland boots.

Timberland is penetrating the circular economy at an earlier stage than most, by producing tires that are specifically destined to re-enter the economy at their end-of-life. Instead of finding themselves in a landfill, which is where 27 million scrap tires end up, Timberland Tires are given a new life in the form of a pair of trendy Timberland boots.

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