Bpost Future Lab: Circular Economy trend watching

The European Union wants to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050. The Flemish government is hosting various Green Deals with the aim of transitioning towards a circular economy. The Dutch government has set itself the goal of being circular by 2050. Legislation is being put into place, think of the ban on single-use plastics. Consumers, too, attach ever greater importance to buying consciously. They do not necessarily opt for new products and are willing to share products with others. A growing number of companies in services & retail are already responding to these developments by organizing their supply chain, business models and production process in a more circular manner. But how do you take the first step as a (logistics) service provider or retailer?
Helen Versluys

Strategic challenge

The Future Lab is an innovation department within bpost. This team of entrepreneurs wants to bring breakthrough innovation to societal challenges. Their question to Möbius: tell us which trends in circular economy are important from a bpost point of view and help us generate ideas on how to build new services and products around the trends identified.

Approach

We tackled the following questions, through desk research and a number of targeted interviews with experts:

  1. What keeps the clients of bpost’s parcel delivery services and solutions awake?

We first mapped the sectors which are important from a circular economy perspective, because of their heavy impact in terms of resource use, waste generation or CO2, because of legislation or voluntary commitments by the sector in question, or because of the attention they receive in the public opinion. Think of construction, plastics, electronics, fashion, furniture, e-commerce in general … Next, we evaluated the relevance of each of these sectors for bpost: are there important customers to be found in this sector? Does bpost have subsidiaries active in this sector? Does the sector offer inspiration in terms of sustainable packaging? For the sectors that scored high on circular economy relevance and significance to bpost, we analyzed in more detail the circular economy challenges and the solutions under development.

  1. What are other logistics service providers up to?

Next, we scanned whether other logistics service providers are taking action on circular economy.

  • We did desk research on the circular economy initiatives of big players like DHL/Deutsche Post, UPS or PostNL.
  • We looked at solutions provided by a number of smaller new players like RePack.
  1. What are the circular economy models worth exploring for bpost?

Thirdly, we identified interesting ‘archetypes’ of circular business models, each of them combining:

  • A strong value proposition towards the customer (in the form of online/offline sales, product-as-a-service or asset sharing),
  • An ambitious circular strategy (reuse, repair, remanufacturing or recycling),
  • An efficient reverse logistics solution (door-to-door or on the go) for getting used goods back.

The circular archetypes were all illustrated with real life examples.

 

Results

  • A sharing session, with the bpost future lab team as well as various account managers, the VP marketing and the sales director at bpost. We offered a general introduction on why circular economy matters and on what it is, explored the business potential of circular economy models for bpost, and facilitated a brainstorm on concrete experiments to be tested by the bpost Future Lab in the months/years to come.
  • A first list of potential circular economy pilot projects to be further developed by the bpost Future Lab team.
  • An online circular economy information board, containing an overview of go-to-organizations and experts, recent reports, funding channels, tools …

Möbius was very open, communicative and professional during the preparation of our workshop. We knew we were getting exactly the kind of information and inspiration we needed. I love that Möbius provided an entire board of links and content as a leave-behind for us to use. We can reference and add to it anytime.

Annie Stewart - Innovation Lead Sustainability | bpost Future Lab
bpost

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