How to use products and packaging to advance the circular economy

In this episode, Chris Hagler and Mark Weick discuss how product design and manufacturing can advance the circular economy by reducing the impacts of consumer products.

The global production and use of food and consumer goods has a large impact on our environment and is anticipated to experience a tremendous increase. One study estimates that the growth of the global middle class by 2030 will result in consumers adding the equivalent of a second United States to global consumption.

3M is one consumer products business that is pursuing innovative changes to manufacturing and design to advance the circular economy. By thinking holistically about the impacts of manufacturing and product changes, 3M has shown that it is possible to reduce waste while achieving characteristics like enhanced product performance and even elevated end user efficiency.

In this episode of Sustainability Matters, podcast host Chris Hagler is joined by guests Ann Meitz, Vice President of Sustainability and Packaging Innovation at 3M and Mark Weick, Managing Director in EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability Practice, and circular economy services lead. Together they discuss opportunities for circular transformation including product design, material sourcing, reselling byproducts, right-to-repair, and end-of-life management.

Key takeaways include:

  • Effective circularity calls for organizational partnerships with non governmental organizations (NGOs), other businesses, waste management companies, as well as cross-functional collaboration to improve the recycling supply chain. Consider partnerships with organizations increasing consumer awareness, material recyclers, and organizations pursuing advanced recycling for complex materials.
  • Reevaluate byproducts and waste beyond their current value – consider situations where these materials can be alternatives to raw materials that have become expensive or are facing supply chain challenges.
  • Create demand for recycled content materials – this supports the recycling supply chain, and also has marketing advantages supported by increased consumer preferences for these products.

For your convenience, full text transcript of this podcast is also available.


Season 3, Episode 4


38m 5s