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Sustainability has become a business imperative. Consumers, investors, regulators, and employees are all increasingly demanding socially, environmentally, and economically responsible products and services that have been designed, produced, used, and recycled with circularity principles in mind. At SAP, we are convinced that technology will help to turn this challenge into a big opportunity for companies that lead the way. That is why we launched SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises, with dedicated solutions to provide the transparency that is urgently needed to enable a circular economy.

Our consumption of natural resources has devastating effects for humans, wildlife, and the planet. It is more urgent than ever to shift from linear take-make-waste models to a circular economy, where waste and pollution are designed out, products and materials are kept in use for longer, and natural systems can regenerate. A circular economy isn’t just about fixing environmental wrongs; it is about making sustainability profitable and profitability sustainable across industries, sectors, and lives.

The packaging sector is a good example. According to Statista, more than 130 billion parcels were shipped in 2020, and the number is rising. This packaging frustrates retailers and consumers and causes untold environmental damage. The good news is that circular business principles such as designing for reuse and recycling are gaining ground in the industry.

One exemplary company is LimeLoop, which offers retailers everything they need, including reusable packaging, reverse logistics, visibility, and analytics. As a result of its unique approach, LimeLoop has helped divert more than 1 million single-use packages from landfills. Its customers report a 53% increase in customer engagement, 93% savings on resources, including trees, water, and oil, and 41% savings on packaging and inventory.

Rental, repair, and resale models are also gaining ground in the retail industry. Furniture manufacturer and retailer IKEA has launched several resale pilots in the last few years. Lizee, the re-commerce software company, is on a mission to “transform the retail industry from linear to circular” by helping retailers move from selling to renting and reselling. Its clients, which include brands such as Decathlon and adidas, don’t have to start from scratch to build a rental and resale business model. Lizee provides the technology systems that will help them become even more successful in e-commerce and more sustainable at the same time.

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