Trailblazing brands making the circular economy a reality


October 17, 2023

In his latest blog post, inriver CEO Niels Stenfeldt highlights the brands and manufacturers leading the transition to circularity.

In our latest ebook, The circular product journey: powering a sustainable, data-driven future with the inriver PIM, inriver’s brightest thinkers are joined by our innovative clients to prove that using product data to power a circular product journey is not only possible – but already happening.  

In my previous post, I shared a vision of how product information management (PIM) and product data governance are rapidly expanding the ability for businesses to measure and track product information at every step of a product’s life: from the very initial design and sourcing, to manufacturing practices, product distribution, to the hands of customers—and most importantly—beyond the point of sale. Product information drives brands’ ability to reuse, re-purpose, and re-cycle a product’s components back into the production process. 

Rome was not built in a day, nor is a circular economy built overnight. However, there are achievable steps inriver clients and the most admired brands across the globe are taking to have the right technology and processes in place to track product data in a way that empowers true circular decision-making. I share their stories below to inspire the next wave of business leaders to move towards a circular and sustainable world.  

Are your products ready to go circular?

Read the latest inriver ebook “The Circular Product Journey” to find out.

Proudly sharing the circular progress of inriver customers 

While I encourage you to read more detail about these inspiring brands in our ebook, I share a preview of the progress inriver customers are making in their pursuit of using product information management to drive circular decisions and meet the demands of customers, regulators, and more:  

AkzoNobel, a prominent paint and coatings brand, has emerged as a trailblazer in establishing a robust data infrastructure tailored to meet stringent local regulatory requirements throughout their material sourcing phase. Coop, a retail cooperative that operates grocery stores, uses the inriver PIM solution to provide consumers with valuable insights into the carbon footprint associated with each of their products, aligning with their commitment to environmental transparency.  

Global wind turbine manufacturer Vestas focuses on optimizing the after-sales phase by utilizing PIM to efficiently transport specific materials needed to maintain their machinery. Lighting manufacturer SATCO | NUVO employs PIM to manage regulatory demands, ensuring compliance and product quality. Lastly, Lantmännen emphasizes a data-driven product journey within their circular business model. The brand uses inriver PIM to fulfill its brand promise of sustainability from “field to fork,” as articulated by Håkan Jägbrink. These diverse companies exemplify how inriver’s PIM solution supports circular decision-making by addressing unique sustainability and regulatory challenges in their respective industries. 

Circular moves on a global scale: 7 brands to watch 

I’m encouraged to see how some of the world’s most influential consumer brands are taking steps towards a more circular world. By now you have seen my passion for sustainability, circularity, and the role technology plays in making these concepts a reality. In speaking with customers, partners, policymakers, and other business leaders, I frequently find myself referencing these real-world examples of how brands are rising to the challenge of driving a circular world.  

  1. Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” Program: The outdoor apparel brand collects and analyzes product data to promote clothing reuse and repair. Their “Worn Wear” online platform lets customers buy, sell, and trade used Patagonia products, extending garment lifecycles and reducing waste. 
  1. IKEA’s Furniture Take-Back Program: The furniture giant utilizes product data to identify end-of-life furniture. Through their take-back program, customers can return old furniture for refurbishing, recycling, or resale, reducing the environmental impact of disposal. 
  1. Adidas’s “Futurecraft Loop” Sneakers: The footwear trailblazer introduced “Futurecraft Loop” sneakers, fully recyclable with customer data on worn-out pairs. These sneakers are melted down to create new ones, reducing waste and reliance on virgin materials. 
  1. H&M’s Garment Collecting Initiative: H&M gathers product data to improve design and production based on returns and unsold items. They also offer a garment collection initiative where customers drop off old clothing at stores for recycling, though challenges like smart-tag misuse highlight the need for better data governance. 
  1. Levi’s Water<Less™ Technology: Levi’s uses data to reduce water usage in denim production via Water<Less™ technology, highlighting the importance of considering multiple product attributes, especially with the impending European Union’s Digital Product Passport (DPP) rollout. 
  1. Coca-Cola’s Sustainable Packaging: Coca-Cola employs data to track the environmental impact of packaging. They strive to use more recycled materials in PET plastic bottles, introduce plant-based bottles, and improve recycling infrastructure, in line with potential European DPP requirements. 
  1. Nestlé’s Sustainable Cocoa Sourcing: Nestlé uses data to ensure sustainable cocoa sourcing, working with cocoa farmers to reduce deforestation and improve livelihoods in cocoa-producing communities, emphasizing the multifaceted nature of product attributes. 

It starts with data, intention, and a little courage 

As you’ve seen through the examples in this post, there is no one-size-fits-all or perfect “step one” to build a circular business model that is resilient to the many changes our world faces. What’s important is that we all start somewhere. At inriver, we continually expand and innovate our product to be the technology answer to how product data can inform circular decision-making. The customers I highlighted today have made the conscious choice to invest in sustainable practices, technology, and processes. If you speak with any of these business leaders, they will share that the decision to dive in and pursue a data-driven sustainable strategy requires a small dose of courage. But that’s no reason not to start.  

want to see the inriver PIM in action?

Schedule a personalized, guided demo with an inriver expert today to see how the inriver PIM can get more value from your product information.

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  • Niels Stenfeldt

    Former Chief Executive Officer & Board Member

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