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How the Circular Economy Can Save Us All

Learn about the differences between the linear and circular economy and how the circular economy will save us from environmental disasters.

HDPR Live # 73: How can the Circular Economy help us? Regardless of our personal feelings about subjects like climate change, I think most people understand that we live on a planet with finite resources, and we have the technological ability to exhaust those resources if we don’t make a concerted effort to be more sustainable.

In this live stream my guest, Kody Skinner, a Technical Sales Representative at HTS Coatings, and I will discuss the differences between the Linear and Circular Economy and will talk about the clear benefits of the Circular Economy.

Kody is a returning guest, check out episode 112 of the podcast to learn about HTS Coatings, and of course, you can visit their website by going to htscoatings.com


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Complete Transcript:

Jamie Irvine:

Hello. My name is Jamie Irvine and you’re watching The Heavy-Duty Parts Report Live. Well, if you’re on Facebook, you don’t know what’s going on. For some reason, we’ve had some technical difficulties and our Facebook feed is not working, but YouTube and LinkedIn is live right now and we will make sure the replay is out on heavydutypartsreport.com a little later. With all of our live broadcasts, we would love to have you to be part of the broadcast. So if you’d like to make a comment, or if you’d like to ask a question, feel free to do so. Also go over to heavydutypartsreport.com and check out the podcasts that we do every week. Our live stream is sponsored by The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. We put out that weekly podcast episode and it is there for you to follow for free, either on the website at heavydutypartsreport.com or wherever you get your podcasts.

So let’s get to today’s conversation. We’re going to talk about the circular economy. We’re going to talk about why it’s important, how it could save us all, and you know, really, regardless of your personal feelings about subjects like climate change, I think most of us understand that we live on a planet with finite resources and we have the technological ability to exhaust those resources for the first time in human history. So if we don’t make a concerted effort to be sustainable, bad things are going to happen. I invited Kody Skinner, who is the Technical Sales Representative at HTS Coatings to join us today because he recently posted on LinkedIn about the value of the circular economy and I wanted to talk to him more. He is a returning guest, Kody, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Kody Skinner:

Thanks for having me, Jamie, how are you, man?

Jamie Irvine:

I’ve been good. I’ve been good. It’s nice to have you back. And I’m looking forward to having this conversation. It should be a good time for sure.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. So I don’t know what happened with our Facebook feed today, but this is the first time ever I’ve had it not go through, so something’s going on, but anyway, let’s get to the conversation. So, okay in that post that you made on LinkedIn, you talk about the circular economy, but first I think we need to understand what the linear economy really is. So can you explain that for us?

Kody Skinner:

And it’s basically what it sounds, and it’s straight. And put it in a nutshell, there’s a couple different ways people can spin it, but it’s basically you make something and you throw it away. And so I kind of treat it like a paper plate maybe is a good analogy. I mean we take it now, that’s coming out and then the other aspect is there’s two sources for the make, right? So you’ve got the renewable resources and the non-renewable resources. So typically in a linear, it’s going to be the non-renewable resources. And so, yeah, kind of like a paper plate, but, yeah, so that’s, and then to dig deeper into it, when we make those things and we take things like out of the ground and we don’t put them back. So you know, we look at it too. Like my dad had a furnace growing up in our old house and that thing will last forever. And so that way, when it was done, the linear economy kind of worked because we got so much use out of it. Unfortunately, I think today’s market where we spend things so fast and that linear we’re throwing away a lot more than probably what we’re using.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. And that’s a good point because in the past, an example in my home is a hot water tank that we just replaced. So that hot water tank went in 25 years ago, and it just now needed to be replaced. The one we replace it with, if we get 10 years out of it, we’ll be considering that pretty lucky. So the linear economy is something that is not sustainable in the long-term. And as I mentioned in the beginning of the episode, the technological ability to strip our planet of its finite resources, it just wasn’t possible up until the industrial revolution. But certainly now that we’re a hundred fifty, a hundred seventy five years into the industrial revolution, we’re at a level where if we don’t make some changes, then we’re going to create some really, really bad situations for humans on the planet. Okay. Let me ask you this, the circular economy, it’s fundamentally different. How is it fundamentally different and how do people who engage in it approach things in a different way?

Kody Skinner:

Well, I think it almost kinda boils down to like quality. And so you’ve got a base product and the fundamental is you may use up part of that product and even recycle it much like linear, but you still hold on to that base. And then you’re able to add to it and put it back in service. And you know, the crazy part is too, I know the automotive and probably the heavy-duty that’s been around for years. I mean, as a kid, you took that starter off the car in your garage and you ran it up to the parts store. And I said, yeah, here’s, here’s the core. You know, they charge you a core for it. And so there’s parts of this that’s been around for a long time. It’s just now has gotten to become such a fun term. And we’re starting to use it more with a lot of things, but fundamentally it’s about keeping less out of the landfills and like those natural resources or the finite resources using up as minimum as possible once we get that product out there.

Jamie Irvine:

And so maybe make things that lasts a long time and make them have of sufficient quality that they could be rebuilt or remanufactured and used over and over again. For my first 10 years of my career in heavy-duty, I worked at a reman facility and that’s what we did. And we were working on equipment that was manufactured in the seventies and early eighties. And this was the late nineties, early two thousands. And it was still in service and parts were being remanufactured over and over and over again. And sure, there were some times we had to use up some new raw materials. Maybe you had to rebuild a piston or something that had corroded and was no longer reusable, but now you’re only making that one piston again, instead of the entire casting, the entire pneumatic valve and all the parts that go into that. So that’s really the circular economy. It’s reusing those resources over and over again to consume less over.

Kody Skinner:

And which is basically the heart and soul that what HTS Coatings does is, you know, we’re taking basically a powder metal pointing on a worn area, affected by corrosion and wear and rebuilding that thing up. And, you know, we do it across the board. And so to kind of get back to what, you know, I feel like a little bit and correct me if I’m going off track here, but we’re almost going to end up getting back to the products being made like our grandparents bought, where they were built to last. I mean, back in the day, heck you had a TV repair, man. You don’t have a TV repairman anymore. I mean, you had guys that would come out and fix things, and now we just boom, in the dumpster. And so in order, like you were saying again at the beginning of the show, in order for us to sustain, we’re probably going to have to get back to that.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. And I think of for example, furniture. There are furniture manufacturers in the U.S. that have been producing high quality furniture and it was like a lifetime purchase. You bought the furniture made of high quality lumber. It was made well. And you know, the idea was I’m going to buy this, it’s going to last my lifetime. And maybe even my kids or grandkids will use it and I ended up with it. And you compare that to all the stuff that we buy from Ikea and overseas, and this stuff has all made a chip board and it falls apart within like 18 months and then you’re back buying it again. And so now you’re consuming all those resources over and over and over again, as opposed to using a reusable or a sustainable resource, like lumber, where can go and plant trees again and grow another forest.

Kody Skinner:

And not to take away from the mining industry or anything like that because we do work in those environments. I think the key is, when we do take it out, it’s pinpointed, now I use that term a lot, it’s pinpointed to where we need it instead of, you know, just throwing it out there to everything that comes out of the market.

Jamie Irvine:

And the big thing to me, I think is it’s all about perspective. So if you can start looking at things in the perspective of a longer timeline. Like if we can look at things beyond even our lifetime and make good decisions today, that will benefit future generations, as opposed to just worrying about next quarter’s profit. Like I’m a capitalist. I know that businesses have to be profitable, but not at all costs.

Kody Skinner:

Yeah. And I’m 100% with you, I think in order for this to work for anybody. I mean, even what we do, I mean, we have customers that have a threshold, out there and even in the heavy industrial that say, okay, if it’s going to take X amount to repair it, I’ve got a spare sitting over here, we’ll just grab that. And so it’s up to people like you and me to figure out how we can benefit everybody involved and come up with economical ways because if nobody at the table is making money, then it just doesn’t work. It’s got make money for everybody.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s right. That’s right. But at the same time, if you look at some of the ways that the reman industry has really expanded, and this goes way beyond just automotive and commercial parts. Right to repair issues and remanufacturing kind of extends all the way into industries that you might not even think of everything from your smartphone to household items that you have around your home, the whole thought process and the way that you approach things is just fundamentally different when you’re looking at. And I think a good thing is that this reman industry has expanded to over a hundred billion dollars a year globally. And so I think that that might even be in North America, but I think that’s a global number I’ll have to go back and listen to when we had the reman association on the podcast and we talked about that, but the point being is that it is expanding and it is contributing a large amount of jobs in our economy. And this is a good thing for everybody.

Kody Skinner:

Yeah, definitely.

Jamie Irvine:

So from your perspective when we look at the way that your company approaches this circular economy how would you say it has changed the way that you do business, like on a day to day operation, just on a day-to-day basis, because I think that when you’re in that environment, I know when I worked at a reman company, we did things differently. I just would kind of like to hear how HTS Coatings approaches day-to-day operation and how being in that circular economy maybe has changed the way you do business.

Kody Skinner:

Yeah. I think the biggest thing is looking for opportunities and I was on a visit the other day and walking through a factory and I saw a conveyor screw, and literally, I think they throw it away and I’m like, hey, wait a minute, we can work on that. And so that’s the biggest thing is knowing what we do and how we can help other people and looking for an opportunity instead of throwing that part away, even though it may be recycled, and then we can help with lead times all that fun stuff too. So I think that’s the biggest one. And, you know, just looking for opportunities to help benefit that, of course you add in all your recycling and trying to go paperless when you can and stuff like that. But like I said, we work in a lot of print mills too. And we work on a lot of those rolls as well. So it all goes hand in hand and just trying to be as environmentally responsible as possible. We try to remember the exact number on it, but I know like the powder and stuff like that, we collect all the waste and we recycle what we can and sift out the bad stuff. Just trying to be as efficient as possible.

Jamie Irvine:

It really has had an impact on every aspect of the business. I was kind of curious, like, how do you personally feel about the circular economy?

Kody Skinner:

I like it. I liked the idea. I’ve always been a big fan of quality. And so when you look at that, that’s like you were talking before, that’s pretty much the base of it. We have that base what we have, and then we add to what we wore off. And so I’ve always struggled with low bid, I’ve never been a fan of that, you get what you pay for. And so that part, and then the fact that I grew up in west Michigan, when I was a kid, it was one of the first cities, the city I grew up in to have curbside recycling. And so from that moment on recycling and that type of stuff has always been important to me. We’ve lived in a couple of different states and you know, you can definitely tell the difference in the states that care about it. So, yeah it’s a natural fit for me to think about. And I’m just a natural helper person. So it all goes hand in hand.

Jamie Irvine:

I look at kind of on the macro and I’m a father, you’re a father. You think about the future of our kids and beyond, and to me, it’s such a, I’m trying to articulate this the right way. So the way I personally look at things, I think in pictures. So when I think about something, I see a visual representation of that in my mind, but I’m also pretty analytical. And so for me, it’s just a math problem. We got a certain amount of resources and we have this one planet to live on for right now. We may be banking on a multi-planet species in the future, but that’s not a guarantee. So we only deal with what we know for sure. We know for sure that planet earth provides a pretty good home for humans. So when I look at that, I just think to myself, look, it’s a math problem. There’s only so many resources on this planet if we don’t use them responsibly, and if we don’t create systems to replenish those as we use them, we’re going to get into a situation where it’s going to be very, very bad for everyone involved, not just humans, but all of the life on this planet.

And so if you really care about that, you have to think about it from the perspective of like, if we don’t make the appropriate changes now then there’s going to be these problems downstream. And we may not live long enough to feel that, but that’s not the legacy that I personally want to leave behind. But at the same time, the pragmatic side of me says yes, but we can’t destroy everything that we built in society to try to achieve these goals. So there’s this balance that has to be struck. And I think that’s why more and more companies should really talk about the circular economy and how they can participate in it. Because the more that we focus on that, the more companies and industries will begin to shift towards this more sustainable approach. And what I have found in much of my experience is that the more you engage in the circular economy, the more profitable you are in the long run. So, I mean like I said, I’m a capitalist. I mean, you have to make money.

So Ashwin just comments here. He says ‘lots of big castings, forging heat treatment and plating shops emit a huge amount of exhaust smoke and gases. From a circular economy point of view, we must regenerate these exhaust smokes to a turbine and power a small department, which may save energy plus commit to cop 26 targets. Just sayin’ . Ashwin thank you so much for your comment. And I agree with you. It’s not just the physical, tangible resources that we touch. Like the products that we’re mining, it’s the emissions, it’s the use of water. It’s the, getting away from one single use plastics, things like that. So it affects every industry and every aspect. And I think that’s what being in the circular economy is all about. It’s thinking about the holistic view and not just being one dimensional in our approach.

Kody Skinner:

Yeah. Appreciate the comment. Yeah. And there’s some, I know I ran across one where, you know, there is the emissions from all that, that it takes to pull that stuff up. So, yeah.

Jamie Irvine:

And Ashwin, you know, just to your point about emissions, this is one of the things I think too with our commercial class eight trucks. So we’ve got all these trucks with diesel engines, but can we convert them to bio diesel? Can we do things that will help reduce how much emissions those vehicles emit so that we can run those vehicles to the ends of their natural use, as opposed to scrapping them early, and then having to exhaust a bunch of natural resources to produce electric vehicles. We have to be able to cross over here, and this is why I’m not, I don’t buy into no diesel and all electric. I mean, there’s some big issues with, with how much it takes to actually produce an electric vehicle into natural resources. So I think we have to explore multi, like as many different power sources as possible because through that competition and innovation, we’re going to come up with the best options.

Kody Skinner:

Well, there’s going to be a place for everything. And I mean, just like your chassis right. I mean the guys are running day cabs, different chassis than the guys that are going over the road. So I think you’re going to find your little nuggets on where the different technology is going to come into play. So that’s a great point.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, let’s leave it on this. It’s my personal opinion that if we don’t move to a fully circular economy, one day, we might not have an economy at all because there won’t be anything left. So it’s really that simple. It’s like we either get to a circular economy and it saves us all, or we stay on this linear journey and it is a one-way trip with one destination.

Kody Skinner:

Yeah.

Jamie Irvine:

All right. Well off our soapbox there. Kody, thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Kody Skinner:

It was a blast. I appreciate you having me again. And I appreciate all the likes on LinkedIn, on my posts and everything, you’ve been a champion for our company and we sure do appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

Oh my pleasure. So if people want to learn more about HTS Coatings, go to HTScodings.com and that way you can learn all about the innovative ways that HTS Coatings helps multiple industries and participates in the circular economy. Kody, we’ll talk to you later. Thanks so much. Thanks again. So we are now at the end of our live today, sorry to our Facebook friends who were unable to watch today. There was some technical difficulty there. Next week we are going to be talking about the Black Friday sale that is going on over at Diesel Laptops. If you are in the repair business of class eight trucks, you would want to check that out. So come and check out all those deals. There’s some savings, huge savings you’re going to be able to enjoy. So we will see you next week.

Jamie Irvine:

And just before we go, I’m just going to drop out our banner here. We had one last comment from Ashwin, so let’s bring him back. Kody, you’re still backstage. Let’s just bring you back on here. Yeah. So Ashwin says, ‘yes, absolutely, we must go into a two-step approach instead of jumping into electric directly. Start with hybrid, which with probably solar panels on top of the cab, which charges the battery during the journey on big U.S. Highways, which may also commit to green targets from Joe Biden’. So Ashwin thank you for being a super guest today. I appreciate that. That’s awesome.

Kody Skinner:

Yeah I mean I used to run out in California and so you’re out there in the sun a lot. I never really thought of that. So that’s a heck of an idea.

Jamie Irvine:

We need a lot of different ideas to be able to find the ones that are actually going to be feasible and work. All right, Kody, thanks so much. Talk to you later. And that brings our broadcast to an end. We’ll talk to you next week. Bye.

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