Working towards a circular economy

The starting point

They say you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and that’s why a partnership was established with environmental consultancy Circularity to explore the impacts of all their waste streams.

Like many manufacturers, APL had previously embraced the traditional linear model, often known as the ‘take-make-waste’ economy. In 2019, a waste audit was conducted by Xtreme Zero Waste, guided by Circularity, to highlight key areas for improvement and set a baseline to work from. Not just for APL, but all Profile Group business units.

This exercise revealed one particularly shocking statistic: the plastic that they used to protect its products would cover 25% of the globe in a year and all of it was going to landfill. Added to that, the materials being used in packaging alone were costing the businesses and fabricators well over $500,000 per year to dispose of.

 

Making change

Replacing damaged products would require more energy and resources, but upon learning of the huge amount of waste being generated, we took instant action and started looking for substitute materials. Knowledge is power, after all and, soon after, we began piloting different initiatives that could make a meaningful impact to waste. Changes included reuse systems for pallet wraps, hardware boxes, coils and cleats as well as alternatives that used natural substrates.

A packaging redesign

One of the most significant projects has been redesigning the packaging of our aluminium, before it travels to our nationwide manufacturer network. 

This has been a considered shift from a linear model, to a more sustainable and innovative circular packaging process. 

Tracking change

To show its progress, Profile Group became the first New Zealand company to use the Circular Transition Indicator (CTI), a global tool created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Circular IQ that allows businesses to measure and validate the circularity of products, packaging, energy and water. By tracking all inflows and outflows in the business, the tool showed all Profile’s packaging systems started at 64% circularity. From here, every business unit has a circularity target and monitors progress towards it.

As a result of this new circular approach, there are now three guiding goals:

We are committed to improving the way we operate and while the primary ambition is to reduce our own impact - and run more efficiently - we also hope to push competitors and suppliers in a similar, circular direction.