New Ways of Consuming Feature New Ways of Waste Behavior

The volume and composition of post-consumer and business wastes has changed beyond recognition through the post-war era, and continues to change in response to the growing shift towards online shopping, increasingly sophisticated home delivery options, smart domestic appliances, and even tailored, ready-to-cook meals delivered to the door.

These new ways of consuming, caused by advances in digital technology, will innovate waste behavior and resource management, says a new CIWM Presidential Report.

The report “Digital technology and consumer trends: Future scenarios for waste and resource management“ identifies several strengthening trends, at least in the UK. Consumers are showing a greater predisposition for online shopping. Home delivery of products has grown rapidly, by increasing convenient ‘click & collect‘ and sooner or later expanding into the grocery sector with just-in-time logistics. And the interactive technology of the Internet of things enters the home and will change the buying mode.

Source: CIWM

On the other hand, reverse logistics from consumers may become more important, involving not only electrical goods but also bulky items like carpets and sofas and even food packaging. This could change the way in which residents cooperate with household wastes services delivered by the local authority: Recyclable materials could be given back directly into the product supply chain – potentially without affecting the waste management sector. According to the report, this change in responsibility could force brands and manufacturers to put more attention on resource efficiency and design for recyclability.

The first scenario shows an increasing grocery home delivery market with top-up shopping locally predominates. Retailers give up the double-tracked system of stores and front-of-house staff picking and set on warehouse style back-of-house picking or smaller local stores. In Scenario 2 the “Internet of things ramps up“ by improved online services provided by retailers: Automated orders of goods and services strengthen the delivery efficiency and reduce food waste significantly. The last scenario is called “Servicisation of groceries and packaging“, which means selling an outcome rather than a product. Servicisation is thought for post-Brexit “brave-new-world“ producers that intensivize prevention of waste, forcing take-back systems or even the ownership of packaging and end-of-life products.

The paper ends with three principal conclusions:
■ Consumer behaviors and expectations are on course to change significantly, supported by technological and digital innovations.
■ The next decade and beyond is likely to see a shift in responsibility for, and influence on, wastes and resources towards manufacturers, suppliers and brands.
■ Both of these trends will influence the types and volumes of waste for which the public and private sector waste industry has to plan, change supply chain relationships and present new opportunities to improve resource efficiency.

The time ist right to think this over, says CIWM President Margaret Bates. “The EU, national and local governments are exploring what policy frameworks, technologies, planning structures, services and infrastructure will be needed to recover more value from waste and deliver essential industrial feedstocks for the future as part of a more ‘circular’ materials economy.“

The CIWM Presidential Report on “Digital technology and consumer trends“ can be downloaded under

GR 32017