Capgemini research shows that up to 72% of consumers want to adopt circular practices, but organizations are not seeing this as an advantage and are not providing the access and information for them to do so.
Companies must adopt Circular Economy models to meet consumer demand and reduce future supply chain risk. Consumers are now leaning toward companies that adopt circular practices, demanding that companies be held accountable. According to the latest Capgemini Research Institute report Circular economy for a sustainable future: How organizations can empower consumers and transition to a circular economy , more than seven in ten consumers want to adopt circular practices, such as reducing global consumption (54% ), the purchase of more durable products (72%), and the maintenance and repair of products to increase their useful life (70%).
What is the circular economy?
Unlike the linear model in which we take resources from the ground to make products that we use and, when we no longer want them, we throw them away, the Circular Economy it is regenerative and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of limited resources. For consumers, this means buying durable products that are recyclable or made from recycled materials; keep them in use for a long time through efficient maintenance and repair; o guarantee responsible actions at the end of their useful life so that they generate little or no waste. For companies, this includes developing products and business models that eliminate waste through design, reducing the use of raw materials, and planning the return / recovery of products and packaging, among other actions.
Consumer demand for circularity
Driven by awareness and concern about the problems of waste and resource depletion, the desire of consumers to adopt conscious consumption practices is growing. However, almost 50% of consumers believe that organizations are not doing enough to recycle, reuse and reduce waste in all sectors, and 67% expect companies to be responsible when they advertise products and do not encourage consumption. excessive.
As consumer interest in sustainability is translated into action, organizations must increase attention and investment in circular practices within their product design.
Breaking the barriers of circularity: shifting the focus from the post-use phase
Today, consumers are limited by issues of convenience, access, and cost. Three out of five (60%) cite the lack of sufficient information on product labeling (on origin, recyclability, recycled content, etc.) as a reason for not taking positive circular action. 55% say that spending is a barrier to reuse products, and more than half (53%) declare that they do not want to make this commitment. This is a result of the e-commerce boom of the last 10 years, which has fueled the desire and expectations for low-cost opportunities through major retailers offering overnight or even same-day delivery services.
Although there are regulatory efforts, such as the EU initiative on the “right to repair” to extend the useful life of products, companies must also take sides and establish their own mechanisms. Currently, circular approaches of consumers focus primarily on the post-use phase. For example, 58% of consumers say that they separate and remove waste from food after use, but only 41% of consumers acknowledge that they buy food that uses minimal packaging, indicating that there is still an excess of superfluous packaging and polluting plastics in the products that are made available to the consumer. Disposal of polluting waste is a key element of the Circular Economy, but more needs to be done to ensure that no waste is generated in the first place.
“The Circular Economy is the key to sustainable growth. From now on, consumers are going to make greener decisions, only being able to choose between what is offered to them, in such a way that it is essential to have industrial organizations that incorporate an ecological life cycle ” , comments Roshan Gya, Director Capgemini Invent Smart Industry General.“The winners will be those who ensure a comprehensive transformation in 3 areas: minimize the impact of their current products and services; develop the products of tomorrow that will embrace the principles of circularity by design; and reinvent its operations including new sustainable business models. These companies will be the new leaders of tomorrow in their markets, establishing a close relationship of loyalty with consumers. In a sustainable journey, the Circular Economy is an investment of today for the way of doing business in the future ”.
The report identifies some critical actions for companies to implement Circular Economy initiatives:
- Adopt the principles of circular design
- Radically rethink business models
- Rethinking value chains to “close the loop”
- Allow consumers to adopt circular practices
- Establish organizational elements that support the transition towards greater circularity
- Use emerging technologies to drive the Circular Economy strategy
- Collaborate to accelerate progress
The Capgemini Research Institute has surveyed nearly 8,000 consumers around the world to find out their interest and acceptance of circular practices, as well as their expectations of organizations in the consumer products and retail sectors. (including food, household and personal care products, fashion and clothing, furniture, consumer electronics and appliances), and the automotive industry. Capgemini has also conducted in-depth interviews with 20 experts from industry, academia, startups, and think tanks working in the Circular Economy arena.
 Capgemini’s 2020 Sustainability in Consumer Product and Retail report revealed that only 18% of retail and consumer products executives report having invested in Circular Economy initiatives. The automotive sector is more advanced: for example, in the report The automotive industry in the era of sustainability , 52% of automotive companies stated that the most widely deployed sustainability initiative in the sector is to support and promote Circular Economy.