Published 1 month ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Image: Black + Decker
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Whatever your product category — including those in which recycled content or
recyclable products are rare — circular design can help your brand delight
consumers and meet sustainability goals.
Eliminating waste is a top-tier environmental concern for consumers, whether
they are worried about waste piling up in landfills or
in waterways. That concern influences consumer product preferences. 80 percent
of US Gen Z and Millennial consumers, in fact, want brands to make it easier to
find sustainable products — namely, those that are recyclable or made using
recycled content (Eastman, 2023 Consumer Insights Report).
Many brands are already pushing to meet that demand by setting goals for
recycled content or recyclability; companies realize that circularity is a key
strategy for achieving other high-profile climate and waste goals, too. Stanley
Black & Decker is one such company.
To that end, Eastman and Stanley Black & Decker
to create a new line of power tools with circular attributes. We learned that
closing the gap between a company’s goals and great products is a journey in
four parts. It starts with brand motivation. It involves innovative
materials during product design and extends to when your product have
reached the end of its life. And it doesn’t stop once the product is out the
factory door: The story you tell in the market matters.
Your company’s purpose isn’t simply a statement on your website's “About” page.
Hopefully, it has been a north star for your company’s overall environmental,
social and governance (ESG) strategy. It can also guide you in setting circular
design priorities so you can bring the strategy to life in your products.
Stanley Black & Decker’s purpose, “For Those Who Make the World,” helped
launch its ESG strategy in 2017.
As part of that strategy, the company has commitments to drive sustainable
innovation that delivers Scope 3 emissions
and improvements in packaging recyclability. It realized a circular design
approach offered a practical way to pursue these commitments — specifically with
its BLACK+DECKER brand.
Eastman’s consumer insights team worked with BLACK+DECKER to help meld brand
purpose with a keen awareness of consumer values and sustainability motivators.
We pulled insights from our proprietary, global consumer studies and our
5,000-person-strong US and European consumer panel to provide the BLACK+DECKER
team insight into their audiences’ expectations.
We also partnered on a material cost analysis to help the BLACK+DECKER team
understand financial risks and think through pricing structures for circular
Our work during this phase of the journey motivated internal stakeholders to
support creation of a new product line, BLACK+DECKER
designed with circular product attributes and targeted to young DIYers.
Ongoing Eastman research across product categories demonstrates that consumers
frequently evaluate whether a product is sustainable based on the materials it
is made from (Eastman, 2023 US & European Consumer Community study). This
insight makes material selection — incorporating more recycled content, biobased
content, etc — a prime starting point for circular innovation.
BLACK+DECKER and Eastman technical and product teams worked together closely to
ideate and test different types of circular materials that would deliver the
performance, durability and quality consumers expect.
The teams agreed Eastman Tritan
copolyester was right for the job: 50 percent recycled material, plus the
rigorous performance required for the enclosures of reviva power tools. Tritan
Renew is produced using Eastman’s molecular-recycling
so the recycled content is indistinguishable from virgin plastic in terms of
performance. The environmental impact, however, is distinctly different. This
molecular recycling technology diverts waste plastic from landfills and reduces
use of fossil-based resources. Eastman’s third-party lifecycle analysis also
demonstrates that our molecular-recycling technology results in 29 percent lower
GHG emissions compared to conventional processes.
Using a single type of plastic — in this case, Tritan Renew — aids in making a
product easier to recycle at end of life. The BLACK+DECKER team also realized
that making the new tools recyclable meant making them easy to disassemble. So,
unlike many of the company’s other power tools, the casings for this product
line were designed without elastomer over-molds; and the integral battery has
been designed to be easily removed during the recycling process, to aid in the
recapturing of the critical metals inside.
Designing with recycled content and for recyclability are critical for
circularity — but brands don’t have to stop there. They can help design an
end-of-life pathway for products (and packaging) to get from consumers’ hands
into recycling facilities.
For example, perhaps your brand makes packaging from PET — which is accepted
in curbside recycling. You can also participate in extended producer
(EPR) programs to help increase the recycling system’s efficacy.
For products, your brand can design and implement take-back programs, tap into
existing industry recycling partnerships, or team up directly with a material
recycler such as Eastman.
Stanley Black & Decker continues to explore opportunities to enable consumers to
recycle the various components of end-of-life tools. The company and its brands
have a long history of supporting battery-recycling programs through a
partnership with Call2Recycle — which provides
clear, simple ways for consumers to help keep their old batteries out of
landfills; and end-of-life tool programs with
which can directly accept reviva and other BLACK+DECKER products — including
those with internal lithium-ion
“Circularity” is not yet a part of most consumers’ vocabulary; so, touting
circularity in terms of corporate strategy can fall flat in communications. But
when your brand has translated the abstract concept of circularity into products
that consumers can use and enjoy, the story becomes concrete and meaningful. It
becomes a story consumers want to hear.
Eastman’s consumer insights and marketing communications teams supported
BLACK+DECKER as they crafted the reviva story and promotional strategy. We knew
from our own consumer research that molecular recycling (the technology used to
create Tritan Renew) especially resonates with Gen Z and Millennial
audiences; in fact, nearly 60 percent agree that molecular recycling “helps
solve the plastic waste crisis” (Eastman, 2023 Consumer Insights Report).
Together, our teams developed ways to illustrate the impact of recycled plastics
for each item in the new reviva line; and we brought the story of molecular
recycling to life across various channels.
Published Jan 12, 2024 8am EST / 5am PST / 1pm GMT / 2pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.