6 R’s Of Sustainability: We know that preserving the planet is everyone’s responsibility, whether consumers or producers of goods and services.
Creating a product or running a business without thinking about environmental issues, in addition to being irresponsible, can be a shot in the foot for anyone who wants to build a good image in the market and grow sustainably.
Therefore, developing a new product must bring concern for the environment throughout its life cycle.
In this sense, since the last century, the “R’s” of sustainability has been part of debates about the planet’s health. It is not known when they appeared, but it is estimated that it was at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as Eco-92, held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, that they were mentioned for the first time.
Initially, 3Rs were proposed (reduce, reuse, and recycle), but other Rs were added to this list over time, as shown below.
The objective of this policy is to analyze the generation of waste to preserve the environment as much as possible. It can be applied to citizens and consumers as well as companies. In the second case, the 6Rs help analyze a product’s entire life cycle: its design, production, distribution, use, disposal, and possible reuse.
Knowing how to manage resources and the waste generated and being environmentally sustainable can represent more savings and value for the brand in society. Recycling alone, for example, already brings several benefits, such as lowering production costs and the generation of direct and indirect jobs in industries, cooperatives, and recycling plants.
What Are The 6Rs Of Sustainability?
The first stage of the 6Rs refers to reducing the consumption of products and natural resources, but also waste. Promoting the reduction can help minimize expenses with waste management and treatment.
In the second stage of the process, it is time to analyze what can be reused or optimized to the maximum before being discarded.
The act of transforming waste into new products and recycling has already been considered a solution to problems related to waste generation. However, the process is energy-intensive and not perfect. Many materials that could be recycled end up going to landfills or are discarded directly into nature. Therefore, before recycling, reducing and reusing everything possible is necessary.
Here, the idea is to design products that are easy to repair but also to repair those that the company already has. Replacing a part is much cheaper than buying a new product.
At this point, it is worth thinking about which products or raw materials can be refused to avoid waste generation, but it is also worth asking how the consumer will react to his creation: Could he deny it? With the growth of conscious consumption, more and more people are rethinking their habits and rejecting unsustainable brands. So be aware of that.
Every business must constantly reinvent itself and rethink more efficient production methods. In this case, it is worth designing products that do the same job more efficiently or even reviewing the packaging so that it is easier to recycle, for example.
How To Apply The 6 R’s In Companies
As we have seen, the 6 R’s policy is a way of assessing the entire life cycle of a good or service, and its adoption by companies will vary according to the size of the business. In general, the big ones have specific departments for this.
Still, the small ones can start by assembling an interdisciplinary team, with representatives from different functions and suppliers, consultants, and some customers.
Among the simple examples of actions that can be taken are the replacement of disposable cups with glass cups or mugs, the use of equipment with better energy efficiency, the use of water discharges with double activation, the rationalization of the use of fuels, the reuse of paper (using both sides or as a draft and notepad) and the separation of garbage.
Companies that handle food can make the most of the stalks, bark, and leaves in different recipes, or they can bet on composting, preventing organic waste from being disposed of in plastic bags.