Our 'rental' dream and circular starts

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We visited Elmia Subcontractor this month – the trade fair for supplier companies like us in Northern Europe. The trade fair markets itself as being a platform for innovation. And in that spirit Trifilon’s Martin Lidstrand was asked to lead a discussion about circular economies, the idea that materials and energy used in production can be effectively reused in new production cycles. The moderator asked Martin about an intriguing comment from Trifilon’s Jeremiah Dutton when he had suggested in an interview that Trifilon could imagine “renting out” its material in the future, meaning consumer products using our biocomposites would be sent back to us so we could melt down and reuse the material. It might sound like a dream, but really many companies have already started such experiments, not just with packaging. Printing company Canon has run a "take back" program since the 1990's. Danish pump manufacturer Grundfos does it today. In a more nuanced effort, furniture manufacturer Steelcase runs programs that repurposes old furniture which by default would often be ground down to become fill for new furniture. At the materials level, the sorting practices and technologies for recyclers pose the biggest challenge for realizing the “renting out” dream. But as soon as used biocomposites are seen as valuable, it’s guaranteed they’ll be sorted and can be sent back to us for reuse. It’s a speaker topic for Elmia Subcontractor in the near future.

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