9 Circular Economy Companies Keeping The Planet Well-Rounded
What companies use a circular economy?
Nearly all businesses accept returns, but few resell or recycle returned goods (let alone USED returned goods) into new products.
Why is this important?
Because our current linear and omni-directional model of production is tapping far too heavily into our planet’s resources and generating waste faster than we can deal with it.
Circular economy companies ensure fewer virgin materials are used and prevent more products from ending up in landfills or incinerators.
That’s all to say, in a roundabout way, these companies and all their unique circular design examples are setting the stage for the zero waste future our planet desperately needs.
A Roundup Of Our Favorite Companies That Use Circular Economy
Plaine Products makes it super easy to receive all-natural beauty supplies with their bottle collection service, which prevents further production.
Among fashion companies using circular economy practices, Patagonia’s Worn Wear program is the quintessential example of a circular fashion, allowing customers to trade in and purchase second-hand outdoor gear—all of which gets resold or recycled into new garments.
Thousand Fell doesn’t just offer recycled shoes. Circular economy principles are built into their business model, because each purchase comes with a guarantee of $20 back if you send the shoes back to TF at the end of their kickin’ life.
Don’t be a square! Roll onto the bottom of the article to find out how we chose the circular economy brands.
The Full List Of Circular Closed-Loop Brands
- Plaine Products | Visit Store
- Meow Meow Tweet | Visit Store
- Thousand Fell | Visit Store
- Patagonia | Visit Store
- MUD Jeans | Visit Store
- Nyrelle | Visit Store
- Coyuchi | Visit Store
- Hydro Flask | Visit Store
- Fairphone | Visit Store
Beauty Companies Using A Circular Economy
1. Plaine Products
Plaine Products’ Circular Services
Plaine Products is one of the clearest examples of circular economy companies that reduce waste.
They have a vast inventory of natural body wash, shampoo, conditioner, zero waste lotion, hand wash, and other beauty products, each blended and manufactured in Florida via a US-based supply chain without sulfates, parabens, or toxins of any kind.
Where Plaine becomes extraordinary is with its circular business model that helps put an end to plastic waste.
Each vegan, non-GMO, and organic product is shipped in a refillable aluminum bottle and pump.
When you start to run dry, you can order a refill bottle or subscribe for monthly refills. Simply rinse the bottle, switch out the pump, and return it in the custom-fit box it came in.
Plaine includes an enclosed return label and covers shipping for hassle-free bottle collection.
They pre-wash the bottles inside and out, running them through a commercial bottle washer to ensure sanitization.
Plus, Plaine partners with Pratt Industries for their award-winning reusable packaging made entirely out of recycled materials. They get a lot of use out of this reusable packaging, using each box an average of five times before recycling.
About Plaine Products
Plaine has ditched plastic bottles and harmful chemicals for high-quality personal care products with a smaller environmental footprint.
Their vegan beauty products are Leaping Bunny Certified, cruelty-free, and do not contain any palm oil.
As a Certified B Corp, they’re equally transparent about their sustainable materials and circular business model.
Through 1% for the Planet, Plaine has contributed over $530 million to countless organizations across the globe.
2. Meow Meow Tweet
Meow Meow Tweet’s Circular Economy Products
Companies that use a circular economy can learn a thing or two from the Northern California-based brand Meow Meow Tweet.
The natural beauty supplier carries everything you need—eco-friendly deodorant, body wash, cleansers, hydrators, moisturizers, and more.
Through their Refill Program, Meow Meow Tweet’s circular economy solutions mean offering bulk orders for your favorite products. Not only does this save money, but they also accept empty bulk containers.
The empty bulk packaging is sterilized and reused to reduce waste generated from beauty and skincare packaging.
About Meow Meow Tweet
All of Meow Meow Tweet’s products are entirely cruelty-free, certified organic or natural, vegan, and palm-oil-free.
Everything is handcrafted in small batches at their California micro-factory, where they take initiatives like offsetting utilities and reducing waste annually.
The AAPI, LGBTQIA-led company, is a Certified B Corp and the first company to introduce 100% backyard compostable deodorant sticks.
Meow Meow Tweet is certified Plastic Negative and Climate Neutral.
All of their shipping materials are entirely recyclable, and they back countless charities through continuous monthly donations.
Fashion Companies Using A Circular Economy
3. Thousand Fell
Thousand Fell’s Circular Economy Solutions
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the amount of clothing and footwear recycled in 2018 was roughly 1.7 million tons out of 13 million tons of new products generated.
The rest ended up in landfills or incinerators, contributing negatively to carbon emissions.
Circular fashion brands, like Thousand Fell, are working to fight this harmful environmental impact. The brand makes sustainable shoes from recycled materials that are vegan, stain-proof, and water-resistant.
Through a partnership with SuperCircle, they fight for the circular economy movement.
Thousand Fell accepts self-branded items in any condition, whether they be scuffed, stained, or ripped. The items must be cleaned, and upon return, Thousand Fell provides $20 in store credit toward a new pair.
The used clothing arrives at their warehouse where they are sorted by materials and recycling criteria.
Once they receive enough products, the rubber and rPET components are upcycled into new Thousand Fell shoes.
Any food waste components—like the castor beans, coconut husk, sugar cane, and palm leaf fibers that made up the mid and insoles—are industrially composted and the biopolyol foam is donated to construction projects.
About Thousand Fell
Thousand Fell is one of the greatest fashion companies using a circular economy.
Each pair is made in a family-owned factory in Brazil, utilizing as many locally sourced materials as possible. This includes recycled plastic uppers, castor beans, sugar cane, coconut husk, and other raw materials.
Thousand Fell offsets its carbon footprint and water usage by shipping products in organic tote bags and FSC-certified shoe boxes.
Plus, they send refurbished shoes to people in need via Soles4Souls and are a member of 1% for the Planet.
Patagonia’s Circular Economy Company USA
Patagonia is a first-class brand that many companies seek to imitate.
Through Worn Wear, Patagonia allows customers to trade in and purchase second-hand outdoor gear.
Worn Wear is simple—send in your used Patagonia clothing and gear for up to 50% of the resale price in store credit. If they don’t accept the products for resale (i.e. certain older models), Patagonia will still accept them and recycle them to keep them out of landfills, though you won’t receive compensation for these items.
This global fashion retailer doesn’t accept everything, but the large number of items they do take allow outdoor equipment and apparel to be more accessible to the masses—and keeps the outdoors more pristine for us to enjoy!
Patagonia is a circular company that makes waves in sustainable manufacturing and business practices.
They utilize a broad range of eco-friendly materials, like hemp, recycled cotton, ethical wool, and recycled synthetics, to name a few.
Many of Patagonia’s products are bluesign® approved, meaning zero toxic compounds.
They have also test piloted the first-ever certification for organic regenerative agriculture, known as the Regenerative Organic Certified™ program.
As a Certified B Corp and Fair Trade brand, Patagonia is equally transparent and ethical.
Plus, they helped co-found 1% for the Planet and make it easy for anyone to get involved in social initiatives through Patagonia Action Works.
5. MUD Jeans
MUD Jeans’ Circular Design Example
Wondering what to do with old jeans?
The answer doesn’t have to be muddy with MUD Jeans, easily one of the best circular economy companies in the fashion world.
Because unlike many other zero waste fashion brands that operate take-back programs limited to recycling or reselling their own products, MUD Jeans will accept ANY brand of unwanted jeans as long as they are made of at least 96% cotton.
They then turn these into new sustainable jeans, blending the GRS-certified recycled cotton fibers (which currently account for up to 40% per pair) with other sustainable materials like GOTS organic cotton and hemp.
Their circular economy principles even apply to other facets of manufacturing. For instance, the indigo dyes are Cradle2Cradle-certified recycled, and 95% of the water used in the dying and other production steps is also recycled.
This is huge, because conventional cotton that accounts for most denim in the world today is the world’s dirtiest crop and accounts for a large portion of the fashion industry’s chemical and water usage.
About MUD Jeans
Ethical as well as sustainable, this European denim brand is a Certified B Corp and demonstrates top tier transparency of their suppliers and manufacturers.
MUD recycles all submitted textiles in Spain, before the recycled textiles are sent to Yousstex International, a sustainable production company in Tunisia that makes them into new jeans.
They also fully offset the carbon emissions of their shipping, give all employees Earth Day off so that they can volunteer, and diligently track their carbon footprint and impact reduction goals in their Sustainability Report.
Nyrelle’s Circular Brand
Nyrelle makes circular products that can fit around your finger.
The minimalist jewelry brand has a wide array of stunning bracelets, necklaces, rings, and anklets.
However, Nyrelle is more than just glitz and glam—they aim for a more circular economy through their lifetime buyback program.
You can sell your previously loved Nyrelle jewelry at 20% of the purchase price.
They melt down the old metals and upcycle them into new pieces, which allow the majority of Nyrelle’s jewelry to be crafted from 100% recycled gold.
For those that aren’t recycled, Nyrelle utilizes sustainable materials like Fairtrade gold, gold vermeil, ethically sourced gemstones, and Kimberley Process-certified diamonds.
All of their gemstones are traceable and ethically sourced from mines that maintain safe working conditions. Plus, the garnets are mined by female artisanal workers in Tanzania, and you can trace each stone to the woman who mined it.
Whether you buy a ring or a necklace, it will be handcrafted and include a lifetime warranty covering damage caused by everyday use.
Nyrelle invests 10% of the value of any gemstone back into education, training, and supplies for female miners in Tanzania.
Homeware Companies Using A Circular Economy
About Coyuchi’s Companies Using Circular Economy
Companies with a circular economy aren’t limited to apparel and beauty supplies.
They have a vast catalog of bedding, sheets, blankets, organic towels, and dining sets made from certified sustainable fibers—the majority of which are recyclable through their 2nd Home Take Back program, which get recycled into all kinds of new consumer and industrial products.
For those still in good condition, they get extra snuggly with their 2nd Home Renewed collection of pre-loved consumer goods available for resale.
Each product undergoes a six-stage certification process, ensuring it meets Coyuchi’s standards for resale. The items are separated into two categories: restored and reconditioned.
Restored products have been cleaned and mended to return them to a like-new state. Reconditioned items have been cleaned and mended but show a few signs of wear and tear.
Through this program, Coyuchi has taken back nearly 70,000 lbs of fabric since 2017.
Zero percent of their returned fabrics have ended up in landfills, while 83% were renewed and 17% were recycled.
Coyuchi uses materials like 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, GRS-certified recycled cotton, and Argentinian wool.
The cotton comes from the Chetna Coalition, an eco-friendly organic cotton farming co-op that provides fair wages.
They also source from Fair Trade-certified partners, ensuring fair wages, ethical workspace conditions, and dignity.
Coyuchi also provides worker-managed Community Development funds, providing additional fair trade compensation.
The brand recycled 98% of its wastewater and doesn’t use any plastic packaging that isn’t recycled.
8. Hydro Flask
Hydro Flask’s Circular Economy Examples
Besides exceptional, world-renowned water bottles, Hydro Flask is a pioneer company in the circular economy.
See, stainless steel is an easily and infinitely recyclable material, yet stainless steel bottles aren’t recyclable with most curbside recycling programs—meaning most end up in landfills.
Which sort of defeats the point of opting for a plastic-free water bottle.
The Oregon-based circular economy company found a solution, introducing the first-of-its-kind stainless steel bottle Trade-In Program.
All you have to do is register your product, print the shipping label, keep any accessories, and ship the item back for recycling. Hydro Flask provides consumers with a $5 voucher toward their next purchase.
The program is designed to ensure old products are recycled efficiently and adequately, without any hassle.
About Hydro Flask
Hydro Flask is one of the biggest manufacturers of eco-friendly water bottles in the stainless steel industry.
Each bottle is made from BPA and phthalate-free 18/8 stainless steel. They include a powder finish for durability and slip-free sipping.
Although their official website lacks information, it’s been reported that their products are manufactured in China with third-party audits promoting ethical working conditions.
All of the bottles include a lifetime warranty and are shipped in FSC-certified paper packaging.
Additionally, Hydro Flask’s Parks For All program helps build, maintain, restore, and create accessible outdoor spaces. So far, they have supported over 200 non-profits and contributed 3.1 million dollars.
Hydro Flask also partners with the Surfrider Foundation, helping to remove trash from marine ecosystems.
Tech Companies Using A Circular Economy
Fairphone’s Circular Economy Company UK
Did you know closed-loop brands extend into the sustainable technology industry?
Which is critical, because not only are the raw materials used in tech products finite in existence, but extracting them from the earth is environmentally devastating.
Meet Fairphone, the designer of fair, ethical, and sustainable smartphones.
The Dutch manufacturer makes modular, easy-to-repair smartphones built for longevity. They believe in a circular economy for their materials and products.
Fairphone encourages customers to return their old sustainable gadgets in Europe by partnering with organizations like ARGO360 that collect e-waste in African regions.
Through the Reuse and Recycle Program, they promote circularity. They recycled over 17,000 devices in 2020 and helped recover e-waste in regions that lack infrastructure.
This number exceeded their expectations by 4%.
Fairphone aims to be 100% e-waste neutral in the coming years, hoping to recycle every device they ship.
Fairphone has made many strides in the smartphone industry by providing long-term software updates for 5–10 years after a device’s release, which is much longer than industry standards.
They utilize Fair Sourcing Principles and measure the environmental impact of 14 core materials, aiming for sustainable sourcing and ethical business practices.
As the first company to source Fairtrade-certified gold from artisanal mines, they’re showing that the tech industry doesn’t have to be detrimental to the environment or worker’s livelihoods through sustainable innovative ideas.
Each device is packaged in recyclable packaging, and Fairphone’s production partners have SA80000 certifications.
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Why Choose Circular Brands?
You might wonder why you should purchase from circular brands and think returning products or boxes is a hassle.
But every product has an impact.
These have a lasting environmental impact on nearby ecosystems, soil, waterways, and air quality.
Selecting circular businesses that ensure their products have a sustainable end of life helps put an end to these problems.
These companies take time to reduce waste and recycle their products, using them in future designs or as valuable goods, like furniture padding and insulation.
Being intentional with how you spend your dollars and create demand for more circular economy solutions is one huge way you can move the needle toward a greener planet and fight harmful trends in the industry.
How We Chose The Best Circular Economy Companies
Circular economies are the future of consumer goods. It’s a way to get more use out of materials, ensuring fewer resources are used or end up in landfills.
However, it’s critical to find reputable brands and avoid greenwashing.
Here are the criteria we used for selecting these circular businesses.
First, we selected brands creating products out of sustainable materials. This varies from brand to brand, but it can include organic fibers, recycled synthetics, and vegan ingredients.
Better starting materials ensure the product is built with intention and make it easier to recycle at the end of its lifespan.
- Certifications: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycle Standard (GRS), Leaping Bunny, bluesign®, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Cradle2Cradle
Supply chain & labor practices:
It’s not enough for a business to manufacture only sustainable goods. We prioritized brands with ethical business practices, transparent supply chains, and with third-party certifications.
Carbon commitments & green business practices:
This is where these circular economy businesses genuinely come full circle.
The brands on our list have accessible take-back programs that allow customers to send back products for recycling. Many of the brands provide in-store credit toward future purchases, providing even more incentive to recycle.
We looked for companies who upcycle the returned materials into new products or other valuable goods, like padding and insulation. Many of the brands offset their carbon emissions, use renewable energy, and are Climate Neutral Certified.
Plus, we opted for brands using recyclable, recycled, or compostable packaging materials.
Community & charitable giving:
Many of the companies on our list give back in one way or another, often through 1% for the Planet. Supporting environmental and social initiatives is one-way companies can extend their reach in the fight for a greener earth.
Final Thoughts On Circular Businesses
We’ve come full circle!
Circular economy startups are leading the revolution against harmful industry standards. These brands recycle and upcycle their materials into new, valuable goods.
But you can practice circularity in your own life.
Upcycling old fibers and items around your house is a great way to start. If you can, purchase second hand stores, online marketplaces, or from friends.
Do you know someone looking for new products?
Send them this list of circular economy solutions so they can get on the ball with sustainable goods.