What Is A Closed Loop Supply Chain?
At The Source Bulk Foods, we have decided that the traditional way we approach supply chains needs to change. We believe that the entire product life cycle needs to be rethought, from how we care for our finite resources, to the creation of products and their end of life uses or disposal. Once this process is repaired, we will then be able to sustain a flourishing economy where we as humans can thrive without damaging our planet.
WHAT IS A TRADITIONAL SUPPLY CHAIN?
The current way that we utilise materials in a traditional supply chain is no longer sustainable for people, businesses or our planet as a whole. We are living in the ‘take-make-waste’ era, which sees us diminishing our world’s finite resources to make products that we use and throw away. Waste that isn’t disposed of correctly can enter the natural world and live on for hundreds of years, whilst damaging beautiful natural habitats and animals along the way. This traditional method is what is called a Linear Economy.
WHAT IS RECYCLING?
Recycling is a term that we all know of. “It’s okay, this plastic bottle is recyclable” is a phrase we have all said or heard at least once. But what really IS recycling? Recycling is where materials are collected before the “waste” stage and are diverted and converted into new products and materials – saving on precious raw materials as well as decreasing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
True recycling is where the material remains high quality no matter how many times it’s recycled. For instance, did you know that glass and some metals like aluminium are infinitely recyclable? That’s why all of the jars and bottles you can find in our stores are glass or metal. So make sure you opt for products made from these materials where possible and dispose of them in the correct way!
Down-cycling is when a new (or ‘virgin’) material must be added to a product for it to be recycled. For instance, materials like paper and plastic must have virgin materials added for them to be recycled and maintain the same quality. Virgin materials are newly created from raw materials, such as wood pulp for paper or crude oil for plastic. Without adding virgin plastic to down-cycled bottles, plastic can only be recycled 2 or 3 times. Down-cycling however, does create products we otherwise wouldn’t have, such as toilet roll and carpets!
WHAT IS CLOSED LOOP?
The idea of designing out waste and pollution has been coined the ‘Closed Loop System’ or ‘Circular Economy’. This model takes the traditional supply chain and moves it far away from “take-make-waste” and brings it into the 21st century. This system far exceeds recycling also! In an ideal closed loop system there is no loss which meansno waste! Instead of materials having an end of life in landfill, this system seeks to utilise all the R’s (not just recycling!). Therefore, throughout the supply chain, materials and products are created with Reuse, Return or Repair in mind.
Reusing products or packaging is a great way to minimise waste and reduce the amount of items we purchase and dispose of in landfill. By saying no to single use products like coffee cups, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, straws and containers, you are helping the planet (and helping your wallet!).
While it’s easy to imagine the waste saving on these common household products, here at The Source, we are on our own journey with a goal to drastically reduce the waste that you as customers don’t see. This started with removing waste from your weekly shop, but we are now pushing this further up the supply chain to minimise our instore packaging waste as much as possible by working with closed loop suppliers.
Now what about Repair? As a society, we are so used to throwing things away as soon as they are damaged or there is a newer model available. Rather than instantly discarding products, there are a range of services we can use to repair our much loved belongings. Companies like Fairphone are championing this approach and have created a sustainable smartphone of the future. The device is designed to be both durable and extremely easy to repair as it has been made out of 7 individual components that can be taken apart and replaced when required. This means you can keep your phone for longer, while still upgrading it with technological innovations – for instance when Fairphone updated their camera, customers were able to just switch out their current older camera for the new one, rather than buy a whole new handset!
And finally, Return. This is a term that is very familiar to The Source family. It is what our amazing teams across our 7 stores witness day in day out, starting with all of you bringing your reused plastic, glass and fabric containers to be reused time and time again. Not a day goes by without us seeing an ingenious way to store our products, from Brazil nuts in bread bags to body wash in wine bottles! We are in constant admiration of our customers for the ideas they bring with them into the store, and open up so many possibilities for the reuse of products that will otherwise end up in the bin.
But this work does not just stop with you. As a company we strive to embody our ethos and that is why we are integrating more closed loop suppliers into our business. We know that if we really want to have a meaningful impact on the future of the planet we must work harder with our suppliers to incorporate more closed loop products into our range. Our mission is to work harder at “saving the waste you don’t see”