philo & co, a brand and packaging sustainability consultancy, helps creative agencies and brands transition to the circular economy.
Remember AGDA events pre mid-March when we could all be in a room together? We do, and we were fortunate enough to speak at Design That Gives a F*ck in Sydney at The NSW Art Gallery. Our intent for the evening, provide a call to action and inspire change through the power of creativity and innovation.
“If we would continue to produce and consume in the way the western world is doing now, our ecological footprint would greatly exceed the bio-capacity available per person on the planet” WWF
Currently only 8.6% of global resources are re-used (2020 Circular Gap Report) all while global resource consumption has surpassed 100 billion tons per year. This means the vast majority of natural resources we use are going to waste. We’ve ultimately designed a world of waste increased through the exponential growth of our linear economy.
A linear economy is a system in which we take (resources out of nature)-make (manufacture them into products)-consume (use products)- waste (discard them when we’re done), and given the scale at which we’re using resources, it has a lot to answer for. From biodiversity loss, soil degradation, pollution, deforestation, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, global warming and resource scarcity. All for something to be used, thrown away and thus diminishing its value. The system is at breaking point, as are the natural systems needed to support our very livelihoods.
Now, more than ever, we need to look at waste differently. What if we saw it as a wealth opportunity, a valuable resource that can be used for a secondary, or tertiary purpose? Everything we use has a value, and lasting environmental and social impacts. Especially when we consider industries like fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and the volumes and speed at which resources flow through the economy. In Australia alone, 12% of the packaging resource used is non-recyclable by design (APCO). This may not seem that bad at a glance, but 5.5 million tons of packaging material is placed on the market annually. This is a real wasted opportunity as this packaging’s only destiny is landfill, or worse still, litter on land or in our oceans.
philo & co wants this to become history and play an active role in ridding the world of waste. This is our core purpose that’s evolved over years of working in the creative industry.
“In a world where we’re wasting so many resources, one resource that’s unlimited is innovation, and our capacity to see and think beyond boundaries.” philo & co
This is the sheer beauty of our industry, it's bursting with innovators, creators, strategists, artists, graphic designers, product designers, packaging designers and art-workers. People like you and me who have the capacity to use our intellectual and creative powers to solve problems, and dream up new ways of doing things. Why? Because we know our system is flawed and it requires strategic, creative intervention to change course for the better.
We now know that up to 45% of global GHG emissions come from the production of everyday goods (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). We also know that up to 80% of the environmental impacts of any product or service are defined in early design stages. This shows the intrinsic link between the design of goods and the environmental impacts we see unfolding around us. So, what if we re-think and re-define how we design and produce these goods? The good news is, we can.
The circular economy is a restorative economic movement, and it is here to stay. To (very briefly) sum it up it:
- is a systems level approach that is designed to benefit business, society and the environment
- designs out waste and pollution
- closes the loop on resources and keep products and materials in use for as long as possible
- regenerates natural systems and strives to have a net positive impact
- provides efficiencies, stronger engagement and long-term cost reduction all while reducing risks of
- resource scarcity, environmental impacts, social impacts, earth over use and waste.
If we consider a refill bottle design applied to all bottles in beauty and personal care as well as home cleaning, it is estimated the packaging and transport savings would represent an 80–85% reduction in GHG emissions compared to today’s traditional single-use bottles. So, by embedding circular thinking into organisations, applying circular design strategies and transitioning to circular business models we have a wealth of opportunities available to us, all while preserving resources, phasing out waste and closing the gap to achieve our climate targets and prevent global warming exceeding 1.5degrees.
By 2025, it is estimated there will be 160 million designers and creative decision makers in the word (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). We are part of this power force that can help design a sustainable future, literally all aspects of our economy are up for re-design, now isn’t that a brief to get stuck into? We need to be armed ready to lead. We need to adopt new mindsets, innovate and challenge the status quo.
So how can we do this?
Start somewhere: identify your why, your purpose, and be open to exploring new approaches
Collaborate and communicate: Rethink partnerships, who do you need on board to achieve your goals and what is the best narrative to inspire and evoke change.
Design for the future: re-think your design approach through circular principles
Keep track & grow: we can’t manage what we don’t measure, so keep track of your impacts and progress to identify opportunities to improve.
Let’s not waste this opportunity.
Pippa, the Founder of philo & co, has more than 10 years experience within the creative industry and is committed to building sustainability into the heart of businesses.
philo & co’s mission is to help creative businesses and brands transition to a circular economy. She has a breadth of experience working with global design agencies and leading FMCG brands. She has led sustainable business thinking for the future and circular packaging design.