How companies turn junk into products (and profits)



The average US consumer creates five kilos of rubbish every day. Over a year that adds up to £ 1,642 per person.

It’s a number that most people want to change.

Much of this junk comes from packaging and plastic – not to mention the waste created by the manufactured goods that people buy every day.

Consumers face a dilemma – they want to be good for the environment but don’t have the time to research every item they buy to make sure it’s made sustainably and ethically. One current survey found that 65% of consumers want to buy from sustainable, purpose-built brands, but only 26% actually do so. A big part of that separation is the time and effort involved in finding the best products.

This is where companies come into play. Consumers rely on companies to make products responsibly, making it easy for them to get the items they need while limiting their environmental impact.

More and more companies are getting creative and turning junk and recycled items into new products.

Making the most of the trash can put items destined for landfill into the hands of avid customers. Because as much as consumers claim to care about the environment, they still want to buy beautiful things. Recycling items and turning trash into new products could be the balance we need between retail and the environment.

One person’s trash can really be someone else’s treasure – but it’s up to brands to recycle items.

Recycling of used goods

The resale and savings industry is a great opportunity for brands and the environment. If everyone were to buy a used item this year instead of buying a new one, that would save 449 million pounds of waste. The resale market as a whole is expected to increase $ 64 billion by 2025. In 2019, the resale market grew 25 times faster than the total retail market. Many brands are taking advantage of the momentum to start their own recycling programs.

Lululemon recently started testing a. began Exchange program Here, customers can return carefully used Lululemon items for a gift card in selected shops. These items are then sold online at a discount through the store’s Like New program. All items are cleaned before resale and items that do not meet Lululemon’s quality standards are recycled.

Nike is also starting a buy-back program for carefully used shoes. The demand for rare Nike shoes is high, and customers will soon be able to hand in their used or defective shoes in selected stores, which will then be cleaned and resold at a discount.

Lululemon and Nike are just the latest in a line of retailers offering incentives to their customers and gently reselling used items. In 2019 Levi’s started a buyback program called Second hand where customers can exchange used jeans and clothing for a gift certificate. The items are then cleaned and resold online. Other stores, including Patagonia and North Face, have been reselling items for years.

Even Ikea jumps on the resale train with the announcement that it will buy back furniture that is no longer needed and sell it at a discount.

Trade-in programs are great for all customers – it motivates customers to trade in their used items and make another purchase, and allows other customers to buy discounted items to help the environment.

Create products from the trash

While some companies gently resell used items, other companies take recycled goods and turn them into completely new products.

Nikes Space hippie Shoes are made entirely from factory waste, from extra material to leftover packaging. The goal of the shoes is to come full circle, back to the materials that originally created them. The Space Hippie collection has the lowest carbon footprint of any Nike shoe ever made.

Rothy’s makes shoes and bags completely recycled plastic and water bottles with a unique 3D printing process that reduces waste. As of 2020, the company has more than 50 million water bottles.

A growing number of companies from all industries manufacture their goods entirely from recycled materials and plastic – Green Toys makes children’s toys from 100% recycled plastic, Dakine does it with backpacks, All Birds makes recycled shoes and even Saalt Period Underwear makes its products made from recycled water bottles. These companies turn materials that would otherwise likely end up in landfills into high quality goods – and make good profits in the process.

Consumers want to make their contribution to environmental protection. Recycling products and materials helps both sides – it reduces production waste for businesses and helps consumers remove items from landfills. A real change in the environment requires this creativity and partnership between customers and brands.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestseller The customer of the future. Be part of the brand new Customer Experience Community here.



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