Many children's things cost a lot of money, but are actually only used temporarily. Afterwards, they are often still in good condition, but only a third of them are recycled. Many starters and designers from the sector would like to take a more circular approach to this, but regularly run up against the barriers of market research, logistics, scaling up production, etc.
The project Waste_full, a circular hub for little munchkins, is an initiative of Mic Mac Minuscule for starters, designers and small businesses who want to bring circular products and services to the market for children and their parents. The aim is to investigate whether and how a marketplace for circular products can be viable.
The project consists of three parts: a digital platform for testing and selling circular products to the market, a physical hub for prototyping and (scale-up) production of circular products, and a knowledge hub for exchanging knowledge and information, with a strong focus on learning-by-trying.
At the start, we first searched for suitable surplus streams with which we could generate ideas for prototypes. Our leftover hackatons, an initiative in which participants try out new design ideas with leftover textiles, wood, cardboard ... were a great success and formed an important link for our project.
In the next phase, we developed a series of prototypes using rapid prototyping, a method that allows us to quickly determine whether a product is viable, technically, financially and in terms of market acceptance. A circular co-sleeper, nappy bags, play boxes ... are some examples of our developed prototypes.
Mic Mac Minuscule BVBA
PartnersMic Mac Minuscule BVBA, Kunnig VZW, Kabinet O, Mathias De Cock, Netwerk Bewust Verbruiken VZW
In September 2020, we launched the digital market platform loopedgoods. be. Thanks to good cooperation with Dutch company VerdraaidGoed, a partner with a similar mission, we were able to extend their digital platform to Belgium.
By focusing on good communication with partners and target group employees, but also externally, e.g. during our leftover hackathons, the launch of loopedgoods.be received a lot of press attention. We reached an estimated 500,000 people.
Via rapid prototyping, we were quickly able to develop a dozen prototypes of products from leftover materials: nappy bags, toy bags, play boxes, a co-sleeper, etc. This has already led to 4,000 pieces in production and 1 FTE in the social economy.
We discovered that the pay-per-use lending formula is an interesting circular business model for our (circularly made) co-sleeper. After all, a baby bed like this, to be mounted on the parents' bed, is an expensive purchase while it is only used temporarily.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
The e-commerce market is highly competitive and places high demands on digital platforms in terms of investment, costs, logistics and knowledge. This makes it almost unfeasible for small initiatives. Achieving a minimum scale is a prerequisite.
Setting up a digital platform proved to be a major challenge. After broadening our scope, both in terms of products and geography, we found a suitable partner with the same mission in the Dutch company VerdraaidGoed. We joined forces and expanded their digital platform in Belgium.
The rapid prototyping method is very suitable for developing circular products and quickly testing whether a product can be viable. In this way, considerable savings are made on (sometimes wasted) effort and investment capital.
In a good partnership, a clear division of roles is essential. Cooperation between partners in the regular and social economy is an additional challenge, especially in the creative part of the circular value chain.
4.000pieces in circular production
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
During the project, we developed a number of building blocks for future growth: the embedding of the digital platform via LoopedGoods, the resulting collaboration between the custom company, the circular designers and the suppliers of surplus streams, the blueprint for logistics, the rapid prototyping method ...
Our future now depends on the extent to which our circular market platform can continue to grow in the highly competitive market, in order to achieve the necessary scale in terms of marketing, production and logistics and to arrive at a healthy balance sheet. Further segmentation of the offer for specific target groups and buying moments is also an essential link.