BfG News Issue 3 - Editor's Column: The rise of the 3R’s on the marketing agenda

03 Jul 2007|Added Value

For most businesses, and most marketers, the issue of how to tackle climate change is still a difficult challenge to crack. Actually, we believe there’s a very simple place to start – it’s about a change of perspective – which can lead to clear differentiation and an enviable competitive advantage.

Introducing the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Marketers should look closely at their marketing mix to find energy efficiencies that will reduce carbon emissions. First, reduce resources used such as packaging and your product will get a better carbon rating. Next, reuse – the unexplored potential for most brands is how to make a virtue of re-using? The last resort is recycling, which has wide acceptance in the UK, but what are brands doing to make this easier?

Reduce is key. Packaged brands are largely responsible for the 30million tonnes of household waste a year, let alone the energy taken to make it, shape it, pack it and get it to us. Packaging taxes could be levied on manufacturers who waste resources. Despite a recent technical glitch with eco-packaging, global giant Nestle is setting industry standards with their approach to sustainable packaging. But, if it becomes too expensive to have outer packaging purely for standout, marketers will have to re-consider how to brand their products.

Reuse is an interesting area for brands to tap into, especially when you consider the inexorable growth of eBay, whose success is born from making re-use cool again. Consumers now think nostalgically of swapping, giving rise to online services like Freecycle or Cahooting and the opportunity for retailers to sell reconditioned goods alongside new, just as we see in car showrooms.

Recycle initiatives such as the UK government funded “National Recycle Week” campaign in June means that recycling is much more common place today. So, how can brands make it easy for consumers to recycle? Electronic brands like Apple are announcing new recycling initiatives ahead of the WEEE directive  that makes electrical and electronic brands responsible for the cost of collection, treatment and recycling of their equipment – an approach that’s likely to hit other sectors.  But as it takes 20 times more energy to make new aluminium can than it does to recycle an old one, surely the onus is on manufacturers to source recycled raw materials?

Marketers should start to see climate change as a potential for growth rather than an expensive challenge, offering a springboard for innovation across the marketing mix.

Lucy Richardson
CEO Added Value UK

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