Manufacturers should take advantage of cheap materials to invest in circular economy, say ING

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ING Bank has said there is an opportunity to take advantage of cheap material prices to invest in being prepared for the circular economy.

Looking at metals in particular, its report Metals, a dangerous complacency? suggested that now is the optimal time to invest in new business models before prices rise.

As significant importers of rare earth metals for example, European tech companies need to drive greater resource efficiency throughout the supply chain, leading to a more sustainable economy and reducing the supply risks associated with imported metals.

The report suggested that the biggest steps towards a more sustainable circular economy can be made in the product design phase.

While immediate price incentives are limited, there is gradually accelerating consumer trend for flexibility in products meaning that products should be designed that are componentised and can be easily dismantled for remanufacturing.

Although strategies for materials savings are being introduced, such as recycling, the report noted that recycling isn’t increasing enough to compensate and design for recycling and remanufacturing will become crucial.

ING senior economist and author of the report Jurjen Witteveen said: “Manufacturers should take advantage of the current low price window and invest in strategies to create a more efficient supply chain.

“The design phase is critical –  a culture shift towards creating products that are easily recycled or remanufactured will take us one step closer to a circular economy.”

View the report here