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The Circular Economy is becoming part of everyday vernacular. Both on an individual level and a business level, people are recognising that going Circular First is the goal we should all be striving for.


This isn’t a new topic for Cistor. In fact, over four years ago, our CEO Anthony Levy wrote a blog on exactly this. A lot has moved on in terms of organisations embracing circularity, but nowhere near as much as is needed to make enough of an impact. Now, climate scientists are warning that we have just 12 years to start slashing carbon emissions before we reach a true crisis-point.


With the tough year we have all endured, it would be too easy to act introspectively and only focus on ‘the now’. However, it’s incredibly reassuring to see that the global pandemic hasn’t meant that big businesses have taken their foot off the gas when it comes to acting more responsibly, and to making it more accessible for their customers to do the same.


We’ve pulled together our top 5 big brand sustainability wins from 2020, which will hopefully give you some inspiration for 2021:


1. IKEA: This year, IKEA have piloted their first ever second-hand store, in which they look to break the current cycle of ‘take, make and throw away’ and instead encourage their customers to recycle, repair, repurpose and reuse. They’ll use this store to sell revamped furniture that’s been donated or returned to them. This is just the latest step in IKEA’s goal to be completely circular by 2030.


2. Asda: In October 2020, Asda opened the doors to their ‘sustainability store’. Backed by some of the nation’s most popular brands, they’ve included 15 refill stations where customers can bring their own reusable containers to stock up on household favourites. Alongside the refills, they’ve made positive steps to reduce the amount of plastic packaging on their shelves, both of their own-brand products, and on the branded products they stock. If consumers respond as well as Asda hopes, these sustainable shopping solutions could soon be rolled out to your local store.


3. BrewDog: That’s right, the beer you drink can be both great quality and sustainable. BrewDog have set themselves some staggering sustainability targets, and rather impressively, they just keep on hitting them. Their whole enterprise is already carbon negative, which means they actually take twice as much carbon out of our air as they produce. So, as you toast Christmas and the coming of the New Year, you can do so safe in the knowledge that you’re doing so responsibly.


4. Vodafone: E-waste is a huge problem in both the B2B and B2C worlds. The reason? Our planet only has finite resources of the materials that power our devices, and they are depleting fast. Earlier this year, Vodafone’s Great British Tech Appeal saw unused phones being fixed up and sent out to disadvantaged families and charity workers, all with the help of Barnardo’s and the British Red Cross. This meant that devices got a new lease of life for those who need them most.


5. H&M: The fashion industry has faced more scrutiny than most this year. The seemingly unstoppable rise of fast fashion has seen affordable fashion brands take quite a bashing. H&M meanwhile are recognised as one of the brands helping the Ellen MacArthur Foundation try to make fashion circular. This year’s Autumn collection is their most sustainable yet and is focussed on bringing recycled and sustainably sourced materials to the masses. Whilst they do admittedly have an awfully long way to go with their environmental impact in other areas, it’s got to be recognised that they’ve made a start that other similar brands will hopefully follow.


As more and more people switch on to circularity in their day-to-day lives, the groundswell of people wanting to make changes in their professional lives grows. Our personal actions will have an instrumental effect, but if anything, the impact we can make as corporate purchasers is vastly amplified. When it comes to buying and sourcing IT and tech, there are simple ways to do so sustainably:


• Optimise existing technology. By extending the life of your existing hardware, you instantly boost your ROI on expenditure you’ve already made, and you play your part in reducing the demand for brand-new products.


• Build business and financial models that plan to keep technology in use for longer. This means buying smarter in the first place and making purchasing decisions that balance longevity and performance.


• Choose products that are remanufactured or made from recycled materials. We absolutely must break the perception that ‘newness’ automatically equates to products being better. When you properly evaluate your needs, you could find that genuine remanufactured products can be better suited to you.


As we go into 2021 and people and businesses lay out their resolutions and goals for the new year, what could your organisation set as achievable targets for contributing to a Circular Economy?


If finding the balance between IT that’s sustainable, economic and high-performing is a target for you, then we’re the right people to talk to. Start your #CircularFirst journey today by contacting us at

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