Circular Blu is a circular economy consulting and action firm that redefines the value of materials through innovative domestic repurposing solutions that create sustainable products and domestic jobs.
Circular Blu seeks to create, promote, and sustain the circular economy. Circular Blu works with the healthcare and business sectors to divert materials from landfill and redefine the value of waste by creating sustainable circular economy products. Due to domestic and international pressures on the recycling industry there is a need to build out a mutually beneficial circular economy infrastructure in the United States. We envision an infrastructure where all stakeholders are engaged in the reclamation, processing and manufacturing of innovative consumer and medical products made from materials once destined for landfill.
Circular Blu and the Circular Economy
As described by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, "A circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times". This concept is at the core of Circular Blu's trajectory.
The circular economy concept is an alternative to the current linear economic model, whereby products are designed with the intention of eliminating waste. We embrace the circular economy as the only economic course that can spare humanity from serious consequences related to resource scarcity, overpopulation, and irreversible environmental degradation.
Circular Blu uses circular economy principles to identify waste streams that have materials of value, and to use those materials to create innovative product lines that are good for humanity. Circular Blu specializes in working with healthcare plastics but also works with companies in any sector to identify circular economy opportunities and provide insight on monetizing the value of their waste.
Follow the links below to learn more about our circular economy consulting, products, and initiatives. Or check out our Learning Center if you are interested in learning about the general concepts related to the circular economy, sustainability and other related topics.
Circular Economy Consulting
Actionable Advice for Progressive Companies
Want to Learn about The Circular Economy?
Circular Economy Initiative: Blue Wrap
How Circular Blu is tackling hospital plastics
Circular Blu was started in 2012 under the name Blu2Green in Worcester, MA. Blu2Green employed people with disabilities to turn clean sterilization wrap into tote bags to be sold to industry leaders, such as Johnson & Johnson and Harvard University. During that time Blu2Green was able to divert over 200,000 lbs. of plastic from landfills.
In 2016 the company was rebranded to Circular Blu and began engaging with different materials in different sectors to expand its impact. Due to growing demand for Circular Blu's sustainable tote bags, the company had to streamline the manufacturing process through strategic partnerships. Although, Circular Blu no longer directly employs people with disabilities, the new model presented an opportunity to continue positively impacting their lives by working with non-profit organizations that promote gainful employment for people with disabilities.
Circular Economy Employment
A circular economy is a equitable economy where talent is not wasted, which is why Circular Blu is dedicated to improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Circular Blu donates a portion of all profits from bag sales of The World's Most Sustainable Tote to Work Without Limits. Work Without Limits is a non profit organization that seeks to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the state of Massachusetts. Circular Blu began working with people with disabilities in 2012 when COO Gavin Bodkin taught a group of talented people to sew and create Circular Blu bags. This experience reinforced the idea that this overlooked population has much to contribute to the circular economy moving forward.
We donate a portion of all bag sales to Work Without Limits, a non-profit dedicated to helping people with disabilities find gainful employment
The Road Ahead
The domestic recycling market is highly volatile due to inconsistency in materials and contamination coupled with a lack of upstream segregation. International policies such as the National Sword policy out of China (enacted Jan. 2018), limits the amount of mixed plastics and other materials able to be exported and processed in China. This has created massive reverberations in the recycling market where there is a lack of outlets for materials being collected. The rise of cheap liquid natural gas being extracted in the United States has made virgin plastics cheaper which puts further pressure on the recycling market in the form of lower prices for recycled plastic resins. All of these forces create an opportunity for innovative businesses like Circular Blu to create circular economy models that keep materials from landfills and domestically produce sustainable products and a culture of sustainable purchasing.
There is a need to build up the repurposing infrastructure in the US to deal with the massive amount of material being produced while landfills are reaching capacity. Where many material recovery facilities once relied on being able to ship contaminated mixed plastics overseas for processing, now there is a need for investment in reprocessing technologies and secondary market creation for those materials.
RelationshipsA sturdy circular economy model needs all stakeholders who engage with a material to be part of the solution for that material to be given a second and third life. Those stakeholders are:
- The producer of the material
- The user of the material
- The logistics partners who transport the material
- The processors who sort, bale, and process the material
- The secondary life product makers
- The consumer of the second life product
Creating relationships with all of the stakeholders allows for open communication and mutually beneficial projects that save money and divert materials from landfills. Making sure the producer of the original product or material is engaged with the circular economy model is very important. Many of these producers are hearing from their clients that they want there to be a sustainable solution for the disposal of the material they purchase. This pressure makes it a strategic imperative of the producer to aid in the creation of second life solutions.
The users of the material are a very important stakeholder because they represent the connection between the producer and the logistics partners. The users put pressure on the producers as well as negotiate with the logistics partners to move the material downstream. In an efficient circular economy model, the users can also be the second life consumer of the reprocessed material in the form of new products.
Logistical partners and processors are the stakeholders experiencing some of the shake ups in the recycling market. They are raising prices and sitting on material because of the macro economic issues occurring around material management. These stakeholders will benefit the most from an injection of capital to revamp the repurposing infrastructure in the United States. When technology progresses to be able to more efficiently process materials and those processed materials have a pre-established secondary life in the form of products, the risk in materials recovery will decrease. Proper financial projections can then be made, which will make costs more predictable.
Secondary life product makers like Circular Blu are the bridge between the processing partners and the consumers. Creating and selling sustainable circular economy products that improve human and environmental health is very important, but that process needs to be paralleled with an effective communication strategy that outlines the importance of these products to the consumer. There needs to be a cultural shift in purchasing where consumers are connected with products on a deeper level, where accountability in the creation of the products can drive the consumer to take pride in their purchase as well as the process.
The Circular Blu Team
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Christopher Bodkin is the Chief Executive Officer for Circular Blu and recipient of GreenBiz 30 under 30 for 2018. Christopher is an expert in the circular economy, healthcare and corporate sustainability. Christopher is also the Data Coordinator for Sector Performance at Practice Greenhealth where he analyses trends on healthcare sustainability.
Co-founder, and Chief Operations Officer
Gavin is a proven leader in the field of sustainability and circular economics. He has researched and presented on circular economy business practices at international conferences and spoken on numerous panels on behalf of Circular Blu. His hands-on research conducted through his MBA included a consulting Fellowship with Biogen, which involved addressing waste reduction strategies for the biotech firm. He has also worked with Johnson and Johnson, Dell, Waste Management, Raytheon, PerkinElmer, and First Solar on their sustainable practices and LCA approaches. This passionate and experienced leader specializes in corporate sustainability and is dedicated to large-scale waste minimization.
Co-founder, and Chief Innovation Officer
Jonathan Flanders is a highly adaptable strategist and creative thinker. His expertise spans multiple disciplines from chemistry to online marketing and even blockchain technology. He graduated from Plymouth State University in 2013 with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Chemistry. He was raised in an off-grid solar house where he learned first-hand about energy consumption awareness and sustainability. He is a father of two and a family man who is determined to help create a world for future generations that he can be proud of. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Kearsarge Food Hub, a non-profit determined to increase local food availability and support local farmers in NH.
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