For the last ten years, we’ve successfully advised cutting-edge businesses on how to transform their models from linear to circular. Here we highlight the positive changes, acknowledge the challenges, and shed light on the ever-increasing urgent need for accelerated action. 

Here comes the good, the bad and the ugly truth…

The Circular Good

Circular business models have come a long way.

Back in 2013, circular models were considered cutting-edge, embraced only by the most innovative players. But, skip forward a few years, and they’re going mainstream in many markets, with industries like tech and fashion leading the way. This growing interest positively reflects a changing mindset among consumers and businesses alike. Every well-run business is now exploring circular business model options.

Younger buyers, in particular, have embraced the concept of circularity.

New customer markets, especially younger customers, are embracing the idea of purchasing preloved products…and they’re transforming the market. Buying or wearing preloved items is no longer seen as ‘second-rate’ or ‘nauseating’. In fact, now more than ever, younger buyers are actively seeking out ethical and planet-friendly options. With less of an obsession for ‘owning forever’, options like renting or reselling play a large part in their lives as does being part of a community. Businesses have a huge opportunity here to strengthen brand loyalty through building robust emotional connections with these customers.

Circular competition is hotting up.

Nothing spurs businesses into action like a dose of healthy competition. With the rise in circular options this competitive landscape is expected to further propel the circular economy in the coming years. Get ready to wave goodbye to linear models of the past.

 

The question now is: Can existing businesses adapt quickly enough to survive?

The Circular Bad

Lack of focus on customers’ needs.

To unlock the full potential of circular business models, companies must focus on their customers’ changing needs in greater detail. Understanding and adapting to these needs is crucial for businesses to be able to identify additional value. This seemingly simple, sometimes overlooked factor, has the power to make or break the adoption of circular practices.

Missed commercial opportunities.

Despite the progress made, many companies still view circular business models as a responsibility of their sustainability teams, rather than recognizing the immense commercial potential they offer. A whole-business shift is necessary to fully embrace circularity.

Failing focus on the value of greater circularity.

While resale is an important aspect of circularity, there is an overemphasis on such simple, transactional relationships between brands and customers. In order to maximise the benefits of circular business models, businesses need to now explore more high-value additions like repair services.

And…the ugly truth!

The pace of change HAS to pick up.

The climate crisis demands radical action on consumption of new products. Unfortunately, the rate of change in adopting circular business models is not fast enough. Industries like fashion, for example, must halve their carbon impacts by 2030 to effectively combat environmental challenges. Impactful change must happen now.

Focusing on materials and design is not enough.

Many companies focus first and foremost on circular materials and design without fully considering the circular business case that justifies these changes. Circular practices now need to be seen not just as a materials sustainability issue, but also as a huge commercial advantage when implemented correctly.

Resale is just a beginning, not an end.

Establishing resale options for your brand is just the beginning. True circularity requires a comprehensive approach that considers factors like displacement and customer loyalty. It requires you to figure out if your business model is truly driving down new product consumption.

How are you shaping a more prosperous and sustainable future through circular business models?

So much has been achieved over the last decade and it’s always great to see how far businesses have come – especially our clients! Yet, there is still a long road ahead for many.

We’re committed to guiding your organisation through its circular transformation journey, unlocking the commercial advantages and environmental benefits that circularity offers.

We’re here to help you understand how you can implement the best circular business models effectively into your brand. Without compromise.

Contact us here to discover how our expertise and experience can help you future proof your business.

QSA Partners: Helping you make more money by selling less stuff.

Jennifer Decker/

I enable businesses to reduce their business and product impacts from setting out a sustainability strategy to supporting the delivery of circular business models. Businesses I have supported include High Speed 1 Ltd, Cotton Incorporated, Argent, Heathrow Expansion, Northern Trust Bank, EDF New Nuclear Build, EY, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence.

I specialise on working within an organisation which has included my tenure as sustainability specialist at EDF New Nuclear Build and at WRAP developing their Textiles 2030 agreement and produced their 2030 circular textiles pathway working with the major retailers, reuse & recycling businesses and charities.

Prior to QSA, I was an associate director at Mace Group where I enabled built environment clients to deliver their carbon reduction programmes and sustainable construction strategies by setting measurable KPIs and targets; creating tools to monitor; embed performance standards in procurement and communication.

Previously, I led the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan at WRAP setting the 2020 targets, strategy and implementation for the UK clothing industry.

Kristina Bull /

I led our project with Laudes Foundation and ReLondon on the Circular Fashion Fast Forward project that saw us develop circular models with adidas; FW and Farfetch as well as lay the foundations for Ted Baker’s work in this area.

I am leading the development of a fibre specific recycling programme within Europe which will be launched in early 2022.

I am an apparel durability expert with track record of change implementation at Whistles, ASOS, COS and worked with WRAP and John Lewis to produce a durability and quality guide for brands.

I have advised low carbon, resource efficiency and sustainability strategy development at Heathrow and High Speed 1 Ltd, and continue to lead the support work for HS1 through to their participation at COP26 in November 2021.

Before QSA at WRAP I delivered the market engagement and recruitment drive for the WRAP Halving Waste to Landfill agreement in the built environment sector.

Gerrard Fisher /

I have a strong track record in sustainability with a wide range of clients. My original background is in process and chemical engineering so I’ve been in to process and resource efficiency since graduating a long time ago!

I’ve supported circular business model transformation in companies such as adidas, Argos, ASOS, B&Q (Kingfisher), FARFETCH, FW, Samsung, MuJo Fitness and more: I led a team that created WRAP’s original circular business model project called REBus.

I have extensive experience working with electrical and electronic products, and I worked with many major global brands on improving design for durabiltiy and repairabilitly. Examples of projects I led include:

  • Groundbreaking research into the nature of mercury hazards in flat-panel TVs (leading to industry voluntary labelling)
  • Creation of design guides for retail buyers so they could improve the durability (and reduce warranty costs) of their own-brand products.
  • Delivery of communication campaigns that increased e-waste recycling collections by over 40% in target areas.

Through my past work at WRAP and beyond, I’ve also advised a range of governmental and NGO organisations on resource efficiency, ecodesign and circular economy including Defra, BEIS, Zero Waste Scotland, ReLondon and Oxfordshire County Council. I provide technical advisory and independent expert advice to UKRI, the European Commission, the US Government’s Department of Energy.

I get a kick out of helping businesses understand and meet their customers’ needs better - whether that’s through better business models, better product design or better communication and transparency.

This has also led me to take an interest in privacy and data management - which can be a big barrier to people reusing and recycling some of their old electrical stuff. As a result, I set up a business called Astrid to provide cost-effective privacy advice to small businesses so they can better protect their customer information.

Mark Hodgson /

I specialise in the innovation and proposition development of new customer orientated, commercially driven circular and sharing business models to market. I have a particular experience of working on circular models with sectors that are impacted by the change in lifestyles, consumption, digital mobility, electric infrastructure and NetZero, have on place. Examples range from retail; IKEA, adidas, B&Q, ASOS, FarFetch, developers and OEM’s; Landsec & Samsung, mobility; Riversimple, HS1 & Co Cars and authorities; Oxford County Council and Exeter Velocities/Exeter City Council. Across all of these, I have helped deliver the propositions, services, operations and infrastructure to enable deployment.

As a founder and ex-director of a multi-modal shared e-mobility provider of EV cars, e-bikes and e-cargo bikes, I have first-hand experience of the impact and change these business models can have on people and place, through working with clients, local authorities and housing developers.

I understand what processes and techniques to apply, how to encourage growth and change mindsets, and how to build a customer-focused, commercially viable business model that delivers circular and environmental benefits. My background is business development, technology and markets having worked for international companies to local SMEs. I've worked in a wide range of projects from global business propositions, sales as a service, sharing and circular business models, ‘low carbon’ LEP economic strategies, climate change adaptation, renewable energy, clean tech sector development and public sector partnerships to technical research, international development and project delivery management.

Being a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and geographer at heart I've worked on sustainable development projects and film productions in locations in Africa, Asia and Europe.