The Green Corridor: The Circular Journey

The Green Corridor: The Circular Journey

3 conversations Needed for Asset Management in a Sustainable World

by Timothy Foote, Founder of Susymbio

Things degrade and deteriorate over time. The world takes its toll through use and natural degradation on assets: handles break, roofs weather, metal rusts.

Human assets also change over time. Employees mature and move onto different roles and responsibilities. Employees can move out altogether and new ones come in depending on the fortunes of the organisation and desires of the employees.

Conversations with Sustainability at their Heart

With focus on physical assets in particular, here are three conversations that can help guide professionals in working toward a more sustainable world. At the heart of these conversations is the goal of creating a circular journey for assets instead of simply a one-way disposable journey.

  1. Look around for suppliers that have production by-products that you can use as inputs
  2. Maximize the use of assets in your control for optimal benefit
  3. Visualise an “end of product life” plan for when the asset is no longer providing a return

Today I want to touch briefly on the first two by suggesting some past articles from Green Corridor for your further study. For visualizing a products next life or “end of product life”, I will be focussing on packaging.

#1 Your Input Channel

In November 2022 my story To Realize the Circular Economy Dream – Reach Out to Your Community, I used the example of a company that takes bread crusts (a by-product of one industry) and uses it for making beer.

Here is an example where one company’s waste becomes another company’s raw material. It seems like a simple enough concept, but it is very hard to match up the know-how to a possible local supplier when you are doing this for the first time. The advice in November is the same today – talk to the business community outside of your own industry. It can help to create novel reuse ideas and produce a win-win outcome for both parties.

#2 Maximize the Use of Your Own Assets

A very visible example of this is the carbon neutral or near zero facilities emerging in some our cities today. The Red Lion 2 facility of DB Schenker Singapore demonstrates how with current technology a facility for storage and work can also be a power generation facility. Refitting and energy saving solutions abound these days, with some governments and banks providing green loans or straight out subsidies.

In the article My Visit to Energy Observer – A Tour into the Future of Ocean Travel, I wrote how using the sun, the wind and the ocean’s own water was being used to send one research vessel around the world emissions free. Fully using the location and space that the Energy Observer itself took up on the ocean. The energy generating and saving equipment alone was able to propel the ship over the ocean in many different conditions. The technology used holds many insights for the maritime industry.

#3 End of Life Planning

Every physical asset should ideally have a sustainable next life journey. Look at packaging, office furniture, food waste from a conference, paper and promotional product waste from an advertising campaign. What happens after these items are used? What is the optimal next step after its use?

Organisations using packages as a one time disposable resource clearly have no plan for what happens at the end of the packages life. It is a situation where organisations profit (by the sale of goods) and consumers pay vis-a-vis waste management costs, environmental degradation costs and healthcare costs.

Packaging for consumer products is the most customer-facing marketing tool that we have.  It is what displays the brands name and the values that the brand supports. The “recyclable” triangle is looked at more and more sceptically in markets around the world. Singapore for instance only really recycled 6% of the plastic collected in 2022. There are still too many challenges in terms of cleaning and sorting to make recycling truly reach its circular ambition.

Large consumer brands are struggling to put in place plans that truly do not pass the costs of clean-up and environmental degradation to its consumers. Some planning for packing materials’ “end of life” are starting to emerge. Some companies have simply moved away from plastics and instead opted to use biodegradable packaging or they are running their own recycling programs by providing incentives to customers to return their packaging for more focused reuse.

Assets Matter

It can often be said that we live a disposable life, but it is important to acknowledge that nothing really disappears in this world. It only takes on different forms. Assets take up space, they can take up energy and they can even promote your values.

So start the conversations where needed. Have discussions about inputs, maximizing current use, and finally how to best plan a sustainable end of life. When it comes to assets, it’s a conversation that is worth having.

About the Author

Timothy Foote
Director, Transportation & Network APAC at Asendia and Founder of Susymbio

Tim has worked in management positions at multiple MNCs for more than 25 years, gaining expansive expertise in logistical operations. Tim continues to craft delivery solutions for many e-commerce clients at Asendia. Once a regional Head of Go Green at DHL eCommerce, Tim now works for customers to decarbonise their logistics by managing Asendia’s 100% carbon-neutral network.

To further promote a net zero future for the logistics industry, Tim created MOVE GREEN. This is a movement committed to greening the logistics industry during this time of transformation. Please join the companies making a pledge to become net zero by going to Susymbio.com for more details.