In 2013 Resource Futures led a Technology Strategy Board (TSB) funded study to determine the feasibility of implementing a circular economic business model for Phineas Products Limited. The circular economy, as applied to Phineas Products, involves a system in which products are manufactured in the UK from UK-sourced recycled material, designed to be used and re-used in closed loop cycles, and recycled only when the product has reached the end of its usable lifetime. Phineas’ present business model is linear in nature, in that Phineas’ retail shoe hanger product is supplied with the shoe - both being supplied and distributed from Asia. It served as the baseline against which all financial and environmental costs were compared.
Bristol based Phineas Products Ltd., design, manufacture and distribute a range of plastic shoe hangers and bootclips for some of the UK’s largest clothing and shoe retailers and brands. Phineas’ present business model is predominantly linear in nature where products are manufactured from virgin plastics in China, distributed to the UK, used once and then disposed. Phineas wished to enhance their product sustainability, recognising the importance of transitioning to a more resource efficient, circular economic business model.
We worked with Phineas Products and The University of Warwick, to investigate improving the business model for Phineas Products’ main product line - the stackable shoehanger - examining the feasibility of four innovative business model alternatives using the principles of the circular economy, each with a different life-cycle configuration. These included a closed-loop recycling scenario and three product re-use models. After undertaking economic and environmental analyses, we compared the present business model with each of the alternatives using Life Cycle Carbon Assessment (CO2eq), Life Cycle Costing and Sensitivity Analysis to indicate the potential benefits of implementation of each of the options.
Our research identified that reuse systems were associated with significantly less CO2eq per hanger (81% lower) than the baseline model over the product lifecycle. The greatest savings in the reuse models were from the reduced manufacturing burden and raw material production emissions. Smaller gains would also be realised in the product distribution and disposal. The study also found that the reuse models offer the greatest financial savings (40% lower) due to reduced material requirement and reduced distribution costs. Of all the reuse models examined, the model where hangers are manufactured in the UK and sent back to Phineas for quality checking and redistribution provided the best financial performance. We produced a promotional video, summary report and technical report covering the findings of the feasibility study. Phineas will be promoting this work as part of their marketing activity for their new re-shored manufacturing base in Bristol. The data collation for the project helped Phineas to further understand their supply chain costs base, their operational carbon footprint and risks within the business.
The findings of the feasibility study will allow Phineas to make better-informed decisions as to how they develop their long-term business strategy with their clients. The work indicates which of the practicable circular economy business models is most likely to be most efficient and most viable. The company has recently re-shored its manufacturing operation and intends to engage their customers as to which model may be suitable to meet their client requirements.