Groupe SEB is a leading global manufacturer of small domestic appliances headquartered in France. The company has a large portfolio of brands including Tefal, Rowenta, Krups and SEB, as well as multiple local and regional brands.
As part of its producer responsibility obligations under the EU WEEE Directive, Groupe SEB co-established a system for end of life collection and sorting in France, managed by the organisation Eco-systèmes. Groupe SEB committed to increase the recycled content of its products by 20% by 2020. It also decided to specifically look at substantially increasing the recycled content of plastic used in its product in order to de-couple from virgin commodity price risks and volatility.
In order to substantially increase recycled plastic content within products, Groupe SEB turned to strategic partners within the extended producer responsibility value chain managed by Eco-systèmes. Groupe SEB and its partners undertook a number of innovations:
- Groupe SEB re-examined product development and design specification to allow increased use of recycled plastic. Initially piloted within a single product of the Rowenta brand, this has expanded across product lines
- Collaboration between Groupe SEB and supply chain partners to develop a recycled plastic resin meeting commercial and product requirements.
- Collaboration between supply chain partners, with waste management company Veolia eventually acquiring a plastic compounder in order to create a reliable supply of recycled plastic resin.
Within Groupe SEB
- Internal business push to explore cost savings by using recycled plastic, as well as identifying brand benefits.
- Sustainability policies and targets for recycled content use in products.
- Product design tools and guidelines.
- Proactive engagement with suppliers to encourage the development of recycled material alternatives.
- Extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations and associated organisations created an initial value chain which could be leveraged for collaboration and material supply.
- Supply chain partners innovating to develop recycled plastic commodities, motivated by a customer demand pull.
Circular Economy Business Models
- Financial. Circular Sourcing has allowed Groupe SEB to take advantage of significantly lower cost recycled plastic and other materials. On average, recycled material inputs have been 20% cheaper than virgin.
- Brand. Groupe SEB has successfully used recycled content in high-end / premium products, and has positioned this as an innovative differentiator using the ‘Eco Intelligence’ label.
- Environmental. Circular Sourcing has enabled both a carbon impact reduction, as well as improved resource efficiency and waste elimination.
- Social. Groupe SEB’s key partner Eco-systèmes estimates that 7,000 people are employed by the WEEE recycling system it manages. These jobs are supported by investments in new capabilities and infrastructure such as that created by Veolia following collaboration with Groupe SEB.
- Innovation and competitiveness. The collaboration between Groupe SEB and Veolia has enabled the development of new skills, know-how, and technology across both organisations.