Mandai Wildlife Group is the steward of the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, a unique wildlife and nature destination in Singapore that is home to world-renowned wildlife parks including Singapore Zoo, River Wonders, Night Safari and Bird Paradise. As an organisation dedicated to the protection of wildlife and their habitats, the Group commits to reducing its impact on the environment in its overall operations and actively engages its guests to adopt sustainable practices in their daily lives.
At the end of 2021, several teams from various departments across the organisation joined Chemistry for a 3-day CIRCO workshop — a circular corporate training programme by the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) — to hone in on a variety of business challenges ranging from food waste to visitor experience. The CIRCO methodology of circular business design helped MWG to improve the sustainability of its retail products, particularly the soft toys sold at the various retail outlets in its wildlife parks.
Guided by the CIRCO track, the retail team came up with 3 How-Might-We statements to anchor their explorations for a solution:
How might we reduce the number of soft toys that end up in landfills?
How might we advocate for recycling/upcycling through an iconic retail store experience?
How might we turn this upcycling effort into an ownable tourism service layer?
Throughout the training, the team explored how these toys could be designed in a circular manner alongside the circular service concepts and visitor experiences surrounding them. MWG’s key objectives were to increase public recycling and upcycling of defective toys while reducing the wastage of the materials used in the production and sales of these toys.
Through the CIRCO methodology, the team found a solution in partnering with Soft Toy Hospital to scale and create awareness of upcycling these toys and formalising it as a circular practice of their retail experience in response to budget constraints and limited access to manufacturing operations. The Soft Toy Hospital offers soft toy restoration, repair and cleaning services underpinned by a commitment to the environment.
Young visitors of MWG parks are encouraged to come back and “heal” their damaged or unwanted toys, giving them a new lease of life. Donation boxes were set up at strategic locations within MWG parks as a permanent feature. Guests and members were informed of the donation drive for pre-loved soft toys. Educational workshops were conducted for members to learn how to repair soft toys, and upcycled toys were put on display to inspire guests and help them envision the potential of upcycling.
From November to December of 2022, the upcycling efforts reached more than 5,000 guests who passed through the single display at the Singapore Zoo’s Kidzworld retail store. With approximately 150,000 soft toys sold and 200,000 produced annually, MWG collected back approximately 1% of units. The team hopes to include the recycling rate through continued efforts and school engagement in 2023.
Following the CIRCO methodology, MWG identified valuable opportunities to drive business in the post-use stage of their soft toys by offering their guests the option to recycle, repair and reuse. They were able to create value for defective or damaged products in their retail operations, when these toys would have otherwise previously been thrown away.
As the CIRCO Hub for Singapore, we at Chemistry leverage our expertise in strategic design to support and guide individuals, teams, and organisations in an accelerated push towards circular business. Visit our website to learn more about our CIRCO Training workshops or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for details on upcoming runs!