Dutch manufacturing company Bruynzeel Storage Systems has a stated ambition to introduce the circular economy throughout its own services, factory and processes by 2020. But such significant change cannot happen overnight. In the meantime, Bruynzeel has been courting partners that could immediately contribute to its vision, capturing the spirit of its desire for sustainable business practices. “While your own systems may take time to implement, you can quickly design a circular economy by linking up with partners who already have well-developed circular systems,” said Daniel Vonken, marketing director for Bruynzeel Storage Systems, who is the driving force behind a number of sustainable projects for Bruynzeel. “This way, working from the outset together in a sustainable way, you can send a signal to your own organisation that a circular economy is both feasible and near.”
DutchSpirit: sustainable suits and business wear
In pursuit of this aim, Bruynzeel came across DutchSpirit, supplier of sustainable suiting and business wear. Dutch celebrities such as TV presenter Helga van Leur and comedian Dolf Jansen have already endorsed the company by becoming ambassadors for the clothing, wearing DutchSpirit products on air and on stage. The company and its products – in particular its leasing model for clothing – were a perfect fit for Bruynzeel.
The concepts of “circular material flows”, “cradle-to-cradle” and “closed loop systems” have been gaining traction in the fashion industry for the past decade, spearheaded by forward-thinking companies such as Fillipa K in Sweden. A circular approach for the fashion industry has a range of different methods and lines of development, including good old-fashioned durable product development – if it lasts longer, it is more sustainable. However, it took the Dutch company DutchSpirit to introduce the idea of leasing a suit as a sustainable clothing model in a business context. DutchSpirit launched its leasing option in April 2013, a new addition to the circular economy. Adopting a concept pioneered by Dutch consultancy and change managers Turntoo, the leasing option ensures that raw materials are reused and the manufacturer or supplier remains responsible for the products.
Customers are users, not owners
Turntoo’s philosophy rests on the understanding that customers only use a product, rather than own it. The products remain the property of the brand or manufacturer. Customers pay a user fee – a lease hire, rental, or licence – rather than buying the product. In this way, manufacturers are encouraged to develop products that can be recycled or broken down into raw materials or reusable parts. DutchSpirit are one of the partners of Turntoo and its leasing concept is fully consistent with Turntoo’s philosophy. So when leasing a suit, the clothing remains the property of DutchSpirit. After two or three years, the suit is returned to DutchSpirit, which provides a responsible way to recycle the materials – either through repurposing or remaking. The leasing model is based on a clear understanding that the world’s physical resources are finite. We are only caretakers on the earth, not owners. It is this model that matched with Bruynzeel’s aims so neatly. “Bruynzeel has demonstrated that an organization can quickly advance in the area of sustainability by operating as a facilitator,” said Erik Toenhake, director of DutchSpirit. “Bruynzeel offers its employees the opportunity to purchase a stylish and sustainable suit within the circular economy.” Eight members of the management team and board at Bruynzeel chose to rent a suit on the leasing model from DutchSpirit. All they had to do before, was present on one of the days organized by Bruynzeel where the measurements were taken within the company . “Taking the step from talking and thinking about sustainability to action is easier than many companies realise. Facilitating the process can already be sufficient to contribute to the circular economy,” argues Toenhake. “I hope that Bruynzeel will inspire other companies to follow this fine example.”
Cooperation is key to a successful circular economy
Igor La Vos, CEO of Bruynzeel Storage Group, has been pleased with Bruynzeel employee’s level of interest in clothing rental. Ranging from the Area Sales Manager for Asia to the Operations Director at the factory in Panningen, a diverse selection of the management group have chosen to buy in to the DutchSpirit model. “Bruynzeel will continue to facilitate this cooperation with DutchSpirit, and we hope many more of our employees will join the scheme. It’s important that we do not see this as a one-off project, but as a long-term partnership.” La Vos continued: “Cooperation is at the heart of a circular economy. We have already experienced the power of cooperation by entering into a long-term partnership with Philips, starting in 2015, which will ensure the lighting in our factory meets our ambitions for the circular economy. ”
Regardless of cooperation and shaping a circular economy, it is equally important that you deliver high quality products. Bruynzeel therefore chose a sustainable suit, but also a high quality suit which all participants agree is the perfect fit.