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10+ Brands That Embraced the Circular Economy in 2021 – Triple Pundit



Pledges to use more recycled materials are increasingly falling short as the public grows more concerned about the global waste problem and seek out solutions to lighten their footprints. While solutions still need to scale, a growing number of brands are looking to pave the way toward a circular economy in which nothing becomes waste. From reusable and dissolvable packaging to giving secondhand goods a new life, read on for some of the top circular economy solutions that caught our eyes in 2021.  

Tim Hortons reusable packaging - circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons tests reusable packaging with help from Loop and Tupperware

Tim Hortons gave reusable a try in 2021 with help from the container masters at Tupperware and the reusable packaging platform Loop. In November, the Canadian fast-food giant began testing a reusable packaging option designed by Tupperware at select locations around Toronto.

Guests pay a $3 deposit for the packaging, which is refunded when they return it. “Through this test we’ll start learning how guests respond to a reusables and returnable packaging system — what they like or don’t like — with the aim of refining a system that is seamless and enjoyable for more guests in more cities in the future,”  Paul Yang, senior director of sustainability and packaging for Tim Hortons, said in a statement.

Tim Hortons is among a number of brands testing the water with reusables in partnership with the Loop platform. This circular economy pilot is also a first for Tupperware, which linked up with Loop back in 2020 to provide insight and expertise on reusables. Additional reusable package options created by Tupperware will be available to more of Loop’s brand partners in 2022, the company says

Starbucks Borrow a Cup - circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of Starbucks

McDonald’s and Starbucks trial reusable cup programs 

McDonald’s trialed a reusable cup program in the U.K. last summer, also in partnership with Loop. Customers at six restaurants could order their morning cuppa in a reusable mug for a deposit of one British pound, which they got back when they returned the cup, along with a discount on their next order. 

Meanwhile, after two single-store tests in 2020, Starbucks expanded its Borrow A Cup program to five stores in Seattle from March through May of 2021, in partnership with a Seattle-area service called Ridwell. Like the McDonald’s program, Starbucks customers simply pay a $1 deposit to order with a reusable cup, and they’ll receive points for refunds through the chain’s rewards program when they bring it back. 

Both companies say they’re looking to learn from the pilots as they look to expand reuse programs to more locations in pursuit of a more circular economy for their products and packaging. 

Ikea furniture buyback - circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of Ikea

Ikea scales furniture buyback and resale program across the U.S. 

Ikea’s large-scale furniture buyback program was a smash hit when it launched in 27 countries in 2020, including Germany, Australia, Canada and Japan. In 2021, U.S. consumers got their chance to take part. 

After piloting the program in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, where the company says 100 percent of products brought in were resold, Ikea rolled it out to all of its U.S. retail stores in November of last year. Mirroring the global program, U.S. customers can get store credit for their gently used, unmodified Ikea furniture that is resold in the stores’ as-is section

Loop by Ulta reusable beauty packaging - circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of Loop

Ulta brings reusable beauty packaging to the masses

With more than 1,200 U.S. stores and over 30 million loyalty members, Ulta Beauty is one of the top mainstream retailers for cosmetics, skincare and haircare products. And in 2021, Ulta shoppers got a chance to try some of their favorites in reusable packaging, thanks to the retailer’s partnership with (you guessed it) Loop. 

Starting in March, the Loop x Ulta Beauty online store was regularly updated with new products, with participating brands including Burt’s Bees, Mad Hippie, Melanin Essentials and Oneka. Customers from all 48 contiguous U.S. states could have their choices delivered in reusable packaging and send them back to be refilled.

The pilot wrapped at the end of November with no official word on the next step, but Ulta remains listed as a partner on Loop’s website, so we’ll likely see more from these two in the year ahead.  

Gousto dissolvable packaging circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of Gousto Recipe Box

Leading U.K. meal kit company unveils dissolvable film made from pea protein

Perhaps even better than giving waste a second life, a big part of the circular economy of the future will be innovating to eliminate unnecessary waste altogether. This clever innovation from B Corp meal kit company Gousto is a case in point.

Billed as the “world’s first edible stock sachet,” this innovative design co-created with the sustainable packaging experts at Xampla offers an alternative to those plastic packets around vegetable bouillon cubes. Rather than deal with wasteful and hard-to-open sachets (hello, wrap rage), simply drop these dissolvable, flavorless pea protein capsules in the pot and go on with the recipe. 

Madewell denim recycling - circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of Madewell

Madewell partners with ThredUP to expand denim trade-in and recycling program

Casual brand Madewell has long offered $20 vouchers to customers who recycle their gently-used jeans in store. In 2021, it took the next step toward building a circular economy for denim by partnering with the digital resale shop ThredUP to sell more secondhand Madewell apparel online

The Madewell Forever secondhand shop launched in July with Madewell apparel donated online through ThredUP as well as denim that is collected at Madewell retail locations. The company says giving denim a second life reduces its environmental footprint by up to 82 percent, and it’s out to collect 1 million pairs of denim by 2023. 

The North Face Renewed - circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of The North Face

The North Face eyes the circular economy for “top materials” by 2025

To mark Earth Day in 2021, beloved outdoor brand the North Face upped the ante on the circular economy with a pledge to use recycled, regenerative or renewable sources for 100 percent of its top materials by 2025. The company says it will use three core initiatives — its free repair program, its clothing recycling program Clothes the Loop and its re-commerce platform the North Face Renewed — to keep its products in use longer and source better materials in pursuit of circularity. The brand plans to release its first fully circular apparel line later this year. 

Dove refillable deodorant - circular economy solutions
(Image courtesy of Unilever

Dove is the latest Unilever brand to explore refillable packaging

In pursuit of a more circular economy for packaging, Unilever brand Dove has pledged to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic where possible and use recycled feedstock for plastic material it can’t avoid. Various Unilever brands have also dappled in refillable packaging in recent years, including a partnership with the Loop platform and in-store refill trials in Europe

At the start of 2021, Dove became the most recent brand to jump on board with a refillable stainless-steel deodorant pack that’s both attractive and functional. Dove says the refillable option is only one of 100 projects it’s working on to eliminate non-recycled, single-use plastic across all products. 

Adidas Allbirds collaboration shoe - circular economy design
(Image courtesy of Adidas)

Adidas and Allbirds collaborate on a low-carbon sneaker featuring recycled materials, with other footwear brands bringing their own ideas to the playing field 

Veteran footwear brand Adidas and sustainable upstart Allbirds made waves across the apparel industry in 2021 when they decided to team up to create a low-carbon performance shoe. Less than eight months later, the Futurecraft.Footprint shoe was ready for market

Each pair creates less than 6.5 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, compared to about 30 pounds for the average running shoe, and circular economy concepts have a lot to do with that. Designers considered pattern and manufacturing efficiency to reduce waste during assembly and sourced biodegradable and recycled materials associated with a lower carbon footprint.Among the other footwear and circular economy developments in 2021: Nike revamped popular styles like the Blazer Mid, Air VaporMax and Free Run 5.0 with recycled materials, while luxury label Roscomar looked to plant-based and renewable materials in its most sustainable shoe to date.

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Ahead of election, Macron banks on rosy French economy, new jobs – Financial Post



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PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron will on Monday tout 21 new foreign investment projects in France and a booming economy as proof his economic reforms have been bearing fruit less than three months before a presidential election in which he is expected to run.

During a visit to Alsace in the east, Macron will announce a 300-million-euro ($342 million) industrial project by German chemical giant BASF, one of 21 new projects worth 4 billion euros and 10,000 jobs as part of a drive to attract foreign investors, his office said.

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As the presidential race heats up, his aides are keen to shift the debate away from immigration and law-and-order issues and put the spotlight on the economy, which has been recovering strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the result of all the reforms that were carried out since the start of the mandate,” a presidential aide told reporters.

“Three months before an election, we could have expected investors to be in wait-and-see mode because of the uncertainty of an election. Instead, we see very strong confidence from foreign investors in the president’s economic policy,” he said.

Since 2017, Macron has pushed through a cocktail of supply-side economic reforms meant to boost businesses’ competitiveness, cut taxes on investors and loosen strict labor market rules.

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Critics say he has acted as “president of the rich” who wants to do away with France’s cherished social safety nets and has cut welfare benefits for some of the poorest.

But three months ahead of the April election, indicators show the French economy is booming, with growth expected to have hit 6.7% in 2021 and France having returned closer to pre-pandemic levels than any G7 peer bar the United States.

Macron supporters also received an unexpected boost from economist Paul Krugman on Friday.

“In fact, among major advanced economies, the star performer of the pandemic era, arguably, is … France,” he wrote in his New York Times column ($1 = 0.8761 euros) (Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Dollar finds a footing as traders brace for hawkish Fed



The dollar clung to a late week bounce on Monday as investors braced for January’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting and raised bets it will chart a year ahead holding several rate hikes, while China surprised analysts with a benchmark cut.

Chinese economic growth data, due later on Monday (0200 GMT), a Bank of Japan policy meeting which concludes on Tuesday, British inflation data on Wednesday and Australian jobs figures on Thursday are also in view as traders gauge the global policy outlook.

The dollar was 0.2% higher at 114.45 yen early in the Asia session, about 0.8% above a Friday low. It also edged about 0.1% firmer on the euro to $1.1403.

The moves follow the dollar’s jump on Friday along with U.S. yields and underscore support for the greenback from the hawkish rates outlook, even if momentum for gains has started to wane.

The U.S. dollar index, which declined sharply last week until Friday’s leap, sat at 95.225 in Asia on Monday.

“Friday’s move suggest to me that the interest rate driver for dollar strength is not dead and buried,” said National Australia Bank’s head of foreign exchange strategy Ray Attrill.

He said it may not necessarily return to drive new dollar highs, but added: “We’ve had a hawkish twist out of every Fed meeting since June last year.”

The Fed meets Jan. 25-26 and is not expected to move rates, but there is a growing drumbeat of hawkish comments coming from within and outside the central bank.

Last week, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon remarked that there could be “six or seven” hikes this year and billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman floated on Twitter over the weekend the possibility of an initial 50 basis point hike to tame inflation.

The cash Treasury market was closed for a holiday on Monday but 10-year futures were sold to a two-year low and Fed funds futures also fell, reflecting a strengthening conviction in the market of at least four hikes in 2022.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars, which dropped sharply on Friday, remained under pressure on Monday. The Aussie was last down 0.2% at $0.7200, ending for now a brief foray above resistance around $0.7276. [AUD/]

The kiwi edged 0.2% lower to $0.6791.

In China, bonds rallied and the yuan slipped after the central bank cut borrowing costs for medium-term loans for the first time since April 2020, defying market expectations.

Ten-year government bond futures rose to their highest since June 2020 after the move and the yuan began onshore trade marginally softer at 6.3555 per dollar.

Chinese gross domestic product figures due at 0200 GMT are expected to show annual growth at its slowest in 18 months as a property downturn drags on demand.

Elsewhere a month-long rally for sterling has petered out around its 200-day moving average. It held at $1.3669 on Monday, but analysts say it could resume gains if inflation data makes the case for higher interest rates.

“Interest rate markets are currently pricing an 80% + chance of a 25 bp rate hike by the Bank of England on 3 February,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Joe Capurso.

“A quicker pace of inflation could see pricing move closer to 100%.”


Currency bid prices at 0139 GMT

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change



$1.1402 $1.1417 -0.13% +0.29% +1.1425 +1.1401



114.4500 114.2250 +0.20% -0.50% +114.5050 +114.2800



130.51 130.36 +0.12% +0.15% +130.5500 +130.3200



0.9156 0.9140 +0.17% +0.37% +0.9158 +0.9143



1.3665 1.3685 -0.14% +1.05% +1.3675 +1.3665



1.2549 1.2557 -0.06% -0.74% +1.2555 +1.2539



0.7200 0.7218 -0.24% -0.95% +0.7224 +0.7199



Dollar/Dollar 0.6790 0.6810 -0.28% -0.78% +0.6820 +0.6791



All spots

Tokyo spots

Europe spots


Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ


(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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China’s Economy Slowed Late Last Year on Real Estate Troubles – The New York Times



Economic output climbed 4 percent in the last quarter of 2021, slowing from the previous period that ran July through September. Growth has faltered lately as home buyers and consumers become cautious.

BEIJING — Construction and property sales have slumped. Small businesses have shut because of rising costs and weak sales. Debt-laden local governments are cutting the pay of civil servants.

China’s economy slowed markedly in the final months of last year as government measures to limit real estate speculation hurt other sectors as well. Lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus also dented consumer spending. Stringent regulations on everything from internet businesses to after-school tutoring companies have set off a wave of layoffs.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Monday that economic output from October through December was only 4 percent higher than during the same period a year earlier. That represented a further deceleration from the 4.9 percent growth in the third quarter, July through September.

The world’s demand for consumer electronics, furniture and other home comforts during the pandemic has kept exports strong, preventing China’s growth from stalling. Over all of last year, China’s economic output was 8.1 percent higher than in 2020, the government said. But much of the growth was in the first half of last year.

CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

The snapshot of China’s economy, the main locomotive of global growth in the last few years, adds to expectations that the broader world economic outlook is beginning to dim. Making matters worse, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is now starting to spread in China, leading to more restrictions around the country and raising fears of renewed disruption of supply chains.

The slowing economy poses a dilemma for China’s leaders. The measures they have imposed to address income inequality and rein in companies are part of a long-term plan to protect the economy and national security. But officials are wary of causing short-term economic instability, particularly in a year of unusual political importance.

Next month, China hosts the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which will focus an international spotlight on the country’s performance. In the fall, Xi Jinping, China’s leader, is expected to claim a third five-year term at a Communist Party congress.

With growth in his country slowing, demand slackening and debt still at near-record levels, Mr. Xi could face some of the biggest economic challenges since Deng Xiaoping began lifting the country out of its Maoist straitjacket four decades ago.

“I’m afraid that the operation and development of China’s economy in the next several years may be relatively difficult,” Li Daokui, a prominent economist and Chinese government adviser, said in a speech late last month. “Looking at the five years as a whole, it may be the most difficult period since our reform and opening up 40 years ago.”

China also faces the problem of rapid aging that could create an even greater burden on China’s economy and its labor force. The National Bureau of Statistics also said that China’s birthrate fell sharply last year and is now barely higher than the death rate.

As costs for many raw materials have risen and the pandemic has prompted some consumers to stay home, millions of private businesses have crumbled, most of them small and family owned.

That is a big concern because private companies are the backbone of the Chinese economy, accounting for three-fifths of output and four-fifths of urban employment.

Kang Shiqing invested much of his savings nearly three years ago to open a women’s clothing store in Nanping, a river town in southeastern China’s Fujian Province. But when the pandemic hit a year later, the number of customers dropped drastically and never recovered.

As in many countries, there has been a broad shift in China toward online shopping, which can undercut stores by using less labor and operating from inexpensive warehouses. Mr. Kang was stuck paying high rent for his store despite the pandemic. He finally closed it in June.

“We can hardly survive,” he said.

Another persistent difficulty for small businesses in China is the high cost of borrowing, often at double-digit interest rates from private lenders.

Chinese leaders are aware of the challenges private companies face. The central bank is taking steps to encourage the country’s state-controlled commercial banks to lend more money to small businesses. Premier Li Keqiang has promised further cuts in taxes and fees to help the country’s many struggling small businesses.

On Monday, China’s central bank made a small move to reduce interest rates, which could help reduce slightly the interest costs of the country’s heavily indebted real estate developers. The central bank pushed down by a tenth of a percentage point its interest rate benchmark for some one-year loans, to 2.85 percent.

The building and fitting out of new homes has represented a quarter of China’s economy. Heavy lending and widespread speculation have helped China erect the equivalent of 140 square feet of new housing for every urban resident in the past two decades.

This autumn, the sector faltered. The government wants to limit speculation and deflate a bubble that had made new homes unaffordable for young families.

China Evergrande Group is only the largest and most visible of a lengthening list of real estate developers in China that have run into severe financial difficulty lately. Kaisa Group, China Aoyuan Property Group and Fantasia are among other developers that have struggled to make payments as bond investors become more wary of lending money to China’s real estate sector.

Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

As real estate companies try to conserve cash, they are starting fewer construction projects. And that has been a big problem for the economy. The price of steel reinforcing bars for the concrete in apartment towers, for example, dropped by a quarter in October and November before stabilizing at a much lower level in December.

The decline in home prices in smaller cities has hurt the value of people’s assets, which in turn made them less willing to spend. Even in Shanghai and Beijing, apartment prices are no longer surging.

There have been faint hints of renewed government support for the real estate sector in recent weeks, but no sign of a return to lavish lending by state-controlled banks.

The financial distress of Evergrande “is a signal that money will be pushed from real estate to the stock market,” said Hu Jinghui, an economist who is the former chairman of the China Alliance of Real Estate Agencies, a national trade group. “The policies can be loosened, but there can be no return to the past.”

The slowdown in the housing market has also hurt local governments, which rely on land sales as a key source of revenue.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that government land sales each year have been raising money equal to 7 percent of the country’s annual economic output. But in recent months, developers have curtailed land purchases.

Starved of revenue, some local governments have halted hiring and cut bonuses and benefits for civil servants, prompting widespread complaints on social media.

In Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, a civil servant’s complaint of a 25 percent cut in her pay spread quickly on the internet. The municipal government did not respond to a fax requesting comment. In northern Heilongjiang Province, the city of Hegang announced that it would not hire any more “low-level” workers. City officials deleted the announcement from the government’s website after it drew public attention.

Some governments have also raised fees on businesses to try to make up for the shortfall.

Bazhou, a city in Hebei Province, collected 11 times as much money in fines on small businesses from October through December as it did in the first nine months of last year. Beijing criticized the city for undermining a national effort to reduce the cost of doing business.

Exports are setting records. Families around the world have responded to being stuck at home during the pandemic by spending less on services and more on consumer goods now made mainly in Chinese factories.

Some areas of consumer spending have been fairly robust, notably the luxury sector, with sports cars and jewelry selling well.

CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

Few anticipate that the government will allow a severe economic downturn this year, ahead of the Communist Party congress. Economists expect the government to soften its restrictions on lending and step up government spending.

“The first half of the year will be challenging,” said Zhu Ning, deputy dean of the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance. “But then the second half will see a rebound.”

Li You contributed research.

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