COP26 delivered some improvements on climate change targets. It feels like governments are just not capable of delivering the urgent change we need in order to meet the 1.5C target.

In that case, businesses must take a stand in the fight against climate change – and many are developing strategies to do this. It’s unclear whether these strategies are genuinely going to deliver the change we need or just a knee-jerk response to “we need to be seen doing something”. An example of this was the Business of Fashion “Voices” event, back in December 2021, which some might say sounded a bit “blah, blah, blah”

The WRI rightly identified that the elephant in the boardroom is consumption. Most businesses are still locked in a linear business model that rewards boards for driving more consumption of resources and products. This is misguided for two reasons:

  1. It’s lazy
  2. It’s shortsighted

We deserve more than laziness from our business leaders. It’s been too easy for too long to make large volumes of products and just sell them – but the reality is that linear business models are less profitable than circular ones in our experience. Businesses stuck in a linear model are throwing products out on the market and hoping that they’re good enough for a fair number of customers…and in doing this they’re losing sight of what their best customers actually need, and how to meet those needs. (It would be too hard to work that out and adapt to that, right?)

The reason it’s short-sighted is because many business leaders are too distant from the emerging customer segments – these leaders are in a different world to Gen Z and fail to accept (or even recognise) some of the vast differences in outlooks, beliefs and needs.

An example

In our work for the British Fashion Council’s Institute of Positive Fashion, we sought out people who buy and use more clothing than the average customer. Some of their responses were eye-opening and highlighted needs that brands aren’t currently meeting.

This group of “intensive shoppers” is far more inclined to buy and sell used clothing, and to hire it for short-term use too. Even more surprising was the proportion of respondents who admitted they “bought” items, wore them, then returned them to the retailer for a full refund afterwards: over one third of the people we surveyed said they’d done this. More common among younger respondents, this trend to use brands as a free “clothing library” is well understood in the fashion sector.

Yet no-one is acting to address it with a customer-focused proposition. 

Too hard? We don’t think so. Brands are currently writing off these returns and attempting to re-sell them, where they could be charging a use fee to the first customer in an open and more focused offer.

Recently we’ve seen Apple announce it will let customers repair their own products (and provide the guides and parts), and Marks and Spencer in the UK finally launch a hire business model for clothing after many years of considering it. These are big brands for whom change can be challenging – but they’re only adapting to the markets they can see evolving.

If you’re wondering whether your business could do better with a circular business model, the answer is almost certainly “yes!”

Get in touch today if you’d like to find out how to do it.

hello@qsapartners.co.uk 

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.