In this 7-minute video, Mike Barry, the Director of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom, discusses the vital role of consumers in the transition to the circular economy. He notes that we have to find a different way of servicing the needs of consumers, and ultimately encourage the consumers to join businesses in the journey by showing them the benefits of a circular economy.
“Ultimately the consumer is vital to the circular economy, they’re the ones driving the consumption of trillions of individual items around the planet,” Barry says at the opening of the video.
“Consumers will only join us in this journey if they can see the benefits to them, personally,” he adds. “If all we’re talking about is abstract benefits to the planet – less waste, less climate change, less deforestation – of course that matters to them, they care, but we also need to overlay it with the fact that ‘You personally will benefit’ – this’ll be faster, it’ll be cheaper, it’ll be more aspirational. And if you can link those two worlds of better for planet and people, with better for you the individual consumer, you will win and people will adopt circular economy principles with scale and authority.”
Barry further discusses meeting consumer demands and scaling through collaboration. He notes that companies like M&S that have wide supply chain networks can help facilitate closing waste loops by “scanning for opportunity,” helping other businesses make connections with each other, and fostering collaborations between suppliers as well as with companies in other sectors.