Zero Circular Analysis

Backstories of circular business models and products from around the world. 


Brewed with bread - Circular product design 



Toast Ale is a startup based in UK which uses surplus bread as its primary resource.

It was founded in 2015 by Toastmaster Tristram Stuart who is an award-winning author and campaigner on the environmental and social impacts of food production. Toast Ale implements the circular economy model to their operations by using the biological nutrient of surplus bread for beer making purposes. They replace one third of the grain in beer production with excess bread, which they source for free, and effectively reduce the cost of production. This is an example to repurposing within circular economy; meaning, capturing value from a certain type of waste (excess bread) and using it for a second purpose (beer making).  


They replace one third of the grain in beer production with excess bread, which they source for free, and effectively reduce the cost of production.


In order to supply enough fresh bread for their customers, supermarkets tend to overstock bread and bread companies overproduce to fulfill supermarket demand. This is one major source of excess bread; the second one is the heel ends of loaves that are thrown away because consumers do not eat crusts. As a result, 44% of all produced bread in the UK is thrown away and 24 million slices of bread are wasted in homes every day.1 1/3 of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) is being wasted every year and that accounts for 3.3 Gt CO2.2 That’s a huge waste of the land, energy, fuel, and human capital that goes into producing the bread. According to food waste hierarchy, when there is surplus food, feeding the people in need and livestocks are first things to do. If there is still surplus food, it should be sent to composters or anaerobic digesters.

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Normally, first ingredients to brew beer are hot water and malt but Toast Ale uses 65% of malt and 35% of bread rather than using 100% of malt. It is used in brewing because beer preserves the delicious and nutritious calories that bread provides; also it has a much longer shelf life. Other criteria in brewing with bread is to use  plain bread (without nuts, fruits, seeds, veg etc.), crumbed or sliced bread (no mould) that’s delivered in sealed containers. They work with Adelie Foods who create over 3 million products (sandwiches, subs, wraps, toasties etc.) over a week and reduce costs of disposing their surplus unless they donate. Toast Ale's brewery partner cuts the bread and after deciding the brews, they work with local bakeries near to the brewery. The bakery slices the loaves and makes them ready for use. All the beverages produced are targeted to be vegan until the end of 2019.

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Toast Ale contributes to environment through circular economy value extraction principles and approximately 3 million tons of CO2 is prevented in every 3 new beers from being released into the environment.

In UK, 60%of glasses have already recycled and Toast Ale wants to make it 100% for their beer bottles. The recycling system in UK is that glasses are crashed into small pieces (cullet), melted in a 1500 C furnace and turned into liquid state and these glasses divided into gobs which can be pressed new bottles. They have also on-site wind turbines to power the brewery and a bore hole to extract water and source barley from local farms. Spent grain goes to animal feed rather than landfill.

Toast Ale also tries to create positive social impact by donating 100% of its profits to Feedback which is fighting with food waste at a systemic level. Since beer is one of the oldest and most consumed beverages in the world, choosing it is a great way to raise people’s awareness to food waste and change their consumption habit.

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  1. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)'s report

  2. The Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations

  3. Fast Company  




Baby clothing rental service - Circular business model


Danish brand, VIGGA rents baby and maternity clothes with a circular product and business model design. They believe that even if products are designed with sustainability in mind, the way people consume them is not. And their solution to this problem is very simple. They are recollecting their products that customers use, checking for errors, and repackaging to send the same clothes to another baby. VIGGA members have a bag selection of eco-friendly and organic clothes that the company reprocessed. Products are renewed as the child grows. As a result, you can use any product 100 to 150 times instead of 5 to 7 times), with a monthly fee of only $55 for a 16-item bundle.

Vigga: A convenient clothing rental service for parents who need new clothes for babies every month

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In the Vigga factory, there is an independent laundry that has 20,000 items in circulation and access to an industrial washing machine. Each item is washed in eco-label laundry and tagged to be tracked.Returned items are sorted, inspected and if needed repaired, then cloths are sorted into bags for members. Users don’t need to worry about harmful chemicals because VIGGA does not use any .

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VIGGA family gives you the opportunity to save environmental resources, by 90% lower consumption of water (regarding 3000 liters of water to produce a baby jumpsuit= 1 person monthly water consumption), 72% lower cotton consumption, 53% less CO2 emissions (considering 7 kg CO2= 55 km drive a car) and since the clothes circulate in at least 5 families, consumption and carbon footprint decrease up to 80%.


The target consumer of the company is middle-class families and mothers who are looking for value for money and convenience of shopping.

One happy customer, who is glad to use VIGGA’s clothes says that, “I’m very surprised how easy it is, there haven’t been any problems with orders and the new clothes came before we handed in a bag we were using. Every little piece of clothes comes with a story.” 

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Reusable packaging - Circular product design

RePack is a deposit system implementing circular economy for companies who use  e-commerce channel with a reusable and returnable packaging service. Based in Finland, the company’s aim is eliminating packaging waste up to 100% and put an end to  trash. Among their customer portfolio are brands from apparel, accessories, consumer goods, healthcare and cosmetics industries.

RePack materials are made of polyethylene, cardboard and polypropen that is durable, 100 % recoverable, lightweight and recyclable. Packages are available in three adjustable sizes and, since they are very durable, they last for at least 20 deliveries. Even though not all of the packages returned to RePack are in perfect shape it is guaranteed that all returned packages are free of charge.  

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RePack: a deposit packaging system for brands who use online sales channels

At the RePack facility, once the packaging is received from a user it’s being tested and controlled. Damaged ones are cleaned and checked, then recycled or upcycled. RePack works with brands from different regions that supports sustainable lifestyle and hand out discount vouchers to customers of these brands. As new brands become a part of RePack, they immediately take place on the online platform, store and social media channels to expand the online community and have greater reach. B2B customers can get feedback from their end users and post it on the platform to boost their reach. The system enhances customer loyalty as brands have stated that their users who prefer RePack have approximately 30% higher order value and shop online more than average.

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RePack implements circular strategies mostly on the resources level by its choice of recycled raw materials. Studies show that it reduces the carbon footprint by up to 80% and total packaging waste up to 96% compared to disposable packaging,. The total carbon footprint of 1 RePack’s 20 uses is 1, 1 kg CO2. While waste per packaging is 0,118 kg, total waste after 20 uses is 0,110 kg. RePack also collaborates with Orton Foundation that supports development of workforce for people with disabilities. The foundation rehabilitates and coaches their members to help them become a part of the labour market, a portion of RePack operations is done with the members of the Orton community.

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