For Chief Executive Officer, John Winning, this forms a key plank of the company’s broader sustainability strategy. Alongside its net zero ambitions, Winning Group now has firm 2025 targets in place to have to recycle 100% of packaging, divert waste from landfill and stimulate demand for sustainable product choices.
The operations of the national business that operates the Winning Appliances, Spence & Lyda, Rogerseller, Appliances Online and Andoo brands, span the supply chain. Through its technology, retail, distribution, and logistics capabilities, Winning Group not only implements circular practices but is driving broader adoption.
John explains that Winning Group is taking a customer-centric approach to increasing circular economy practices. The business intends to educate customers on how to prolong the life of their appliances and collaborate with suppliers to launch initiatives.
“We are focused on using our reverse logistics strength for good through recycling old appliances, mattresses, and packaging, which we offer to customers free of charge,” John says.
Increasing participation through product stewardship
To maximise the company’s role in the circular economy, John says it’s crucial to remove the barriers that restrict customers from participating. That’s why Winning Group is focused on making it convenient, easy and accessible for consumers.
“Since 2005, we’ve offered free removal and recycling of old products, which is a key reason why people shop with us,” John says. “The initiative has resulted in the company helping customers recycle more than 80,000 tonnes of electronics and appliances to date”.
Winning Group also expanded its recycling program to include mattresses and packaging, launching new initiatives and partnerships.
Since December 2020, Winning Group has collected approximately 2000 mattresses in partnership with social enterprise, Soft Landing. This free, take-back program has directly contributed to creating more than 50 jobs for people experiencing hurdles to employment.
The company also unboxes products when they are delivered, and takes away the packaging to recycle it. According to John, this initiative diverts 75% of customer packaging from landfill, which is “especially significant for the waste stream of expanded polystyrene as this is very difficult to recycle for customers”.
“We also sell appliances that have cosmetic imperfections, are out-of-box or end of the line through our business Home Clearance, reducing the number of products going to the scrap heap," John says.
John strongly believes that convenience is a huge differentiator for Winning Group. The impact on the customer experience is also neatly captured by one customer who said, “To me, a perfect shopping experience. Delivery is timely and well-informed, and the clincher was taking the old appliance away for recycling for free”.
The power of education to change behaviours
John says educating customers and staff to get the most out of their appliances and raising awareness for circular initiatives can encourage new behaviours.
In early 2022, Winning Group launched the 'Maintain Campaign', educating customers on sustainable ways to use their appliances. Approximately three months post-purchase, an email is sent to customers with advice about getting the most out of their appliance, contributing to long-lasting, sustainable habits.
"We are teaching consumers how to look after their appliances, so they last longer, and are looking into opportunities to increase repair and serviceability of appliances," John says.
Winning Group is continuously looking to improve and increase its recycling and recovery of high-value materials from returned appliances. John says it also plans to work more closely with suppliers to increase collaboration “because these challenges are too big for any company to solve alone – we need to work together”.
He expects that with ambitious sustainability targets in place, over the next 10 years, Winning Group will transform the way it operates with, and within, its ecosystem to create a positive impact on people and the planet.
“We acknowledge that we are at the start of a long journey. However, we are committed to continuous improvement and working in partnership with every stakeholder across our supply chain to achieve our goals.”