Sustainability about 'cradle to cradle' product life cycles, says Carlsberg

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
27 April 2014

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28 April 2014 | Will Green

Sustainability is about moving from a “cradle to grave” approach to product life cycles to one of “cradle to cradle”, according to Carlsberg.

Simon Hoffmeyer Boas, senior CSR manager at Carlsberg, told a London conference it was important to consider the potential uses for products at the end of their life, which could have equal or more value than their previous incarnation.

“Instead of a life-time warranty on your products, you should have an end-of-life warranty,” he said, highlighting the importance of what happens to the product after it completes its primary use.

Hoffmeyer Boas, speaking at the 2degrees Supply Chain Summit, said his firm had developed the Carlsberg Circular Community, which involved working with suppliers in four stages.

The first step involves assessing and optimising products and materials, with a view to reducing or changing inputs that might affect the biodegradability or re-use potential of a product such as packaging. Secondly, information on these assessments is communicated to the supply chain, leading to the third stage - a change in behaviour. This results in a potential “upcycling model”, where end-of-life goods are turned into new products.

Hoffmeyer Boas said the success of such an initiative was dependent on having the right resources, properly defining the value proposition, and involving “the right external experts”.

“It’s about using inherent mechanisms in today’s business environment and using that for good,” he said. “The fundamentals are having good contracts and the right price. If we can put sustainability on top of it then that’s what we want to do.”

Hoffmeyer Boas said Carlsberg faced a challenge from their core consumer base, which is male and aged 18 to 35. “He doesn’t care that much about sustainability – it’s all about making it relevant,” he said.

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